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CBE feature in Sunday Business Post

The Sunday Business Post featured CBE in its ‘Best Business Retail: putting technology to work’ report on the 31/8/14.

sunday-business-postKeeping up with customers
Omni-channel services are a big challenge for Irish retailers as they try and address an explosion of customer touch points that have come a long way from the traditional shopfront and counter. At CBE, one of Europe’s leading innovators in retail technology, the mission is all about helping clients engage with customers in the channel they choose.

“That could be any interface with the customer – web, mobile or even self-service checkout counters – and it could take place in the shopping aisle, online or from an office,” said Seamus McHugh, marketing manager at CBE. “The consumer experience of technology is forcing retail to keep up.”

McHugh expects the self-checkout that has so far only been associated with large multiples to become more commonplace. CBE has been carrying out a significant number of implementations among smaller supermarkets and convenience stores, all anxious to harness the new efficiencies the systems deliver.

“We have carried out studies in Ireland that show it attracts repeat users and a certain demographic that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. You would assume it’s all about big cities and young people, but it’s not,” said McHugh. “We see a bigger adoption in regional outlets and among older people.”

Though it’s still early days in Ireland, in-store satisfaction ratings are very high, according to CBE research, and there’s no doubt that it gives smaller retailers a sense of kudos and the confidence to compete with the larger players.

Another area that CBE is leading on is contactless payment technology. The firm claims to have been the first in Ireland to build contactless technology into EPoS systems, but mass adoption is still some time away. “It’s chicken and egg – we didn’t want to promote it until the banks were ready and they were slow to issue cards and push it,” he said. “Like chip and pin, it will edge into the market and there will be a tipping point.”

A more complex payment method is the digital wallet, where a user’s payment details can be stored on a mobile phone. Lacking the market leadership of Mastercard and Visa that has driven contactless payment, there are different standards that have created a can of worms, according to McHugh, with no one leading from the front. But that hasn’t stopped CBE from already offering a service that integrates with PayPal.

While it’s clear that there is no shortage of new retail technology, are businesses ready to invest? “Some of them haven’t upgraded their systems for a decade,” said McHugh. “The recession has shown them a reason to reinvest, to get more control over the bottom line. They can do that now with more powerful EPoS systems and the advances that have been made.”

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