The Sunday Business Post did a feature on ICT in Retail in their 7th May publication and featured an interview with Oliver Sheridan, CBE’s Director of Retail. The piece can be viewed below and a full transcript is also outlined below.
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While the obvious changes in retail revolve around visible features like self-checkouts and contactless payments – especially with services like Apple Pay and Android Pay now available in Ireland – many more innovations have been happening behind the scenes.
Retailers in the country are becoming more efficient and smarter, and by gathering data and integrating technology into their solutions, they can enhance their efficiency and customer loyalty.
One company that’s been helping retailers in Ireland and the UK is CBE which specialises in retail software solutions. Its Director of Retail Oliver Sheridan says some of the biggest changes has been in the area of analytics which allows for innovations like dynamic pricing – which lets you change prices of goods depending on time or demographics.
“There are a lot of algorithms and analytics that can help them make important decisions and KPI (Key Performance Indicators) reports on the system,” said Sheridan. “[Things like] reports on products incorrectly set up or below margin… we can give them those reports instantly and on-the-go through a notification app”.
“For example, if your shop hasn’t opened before half-seven in the morning, you’re alerted in real-time because a lot of shop owners aren’t there 24/7 and they need to know this wherever they are”.
While the services CBE offers bring many benefits, Sheridan also advises that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Any new feature or service introduced has to fit in with the needs of the retailer, not the other way around.
“The key thing is no one solution fits every retailer, or no one innovation serves them all,” he said. “You’re trying to adapt the technology that they have to the process they want rather than the other way around”.
“A lot of it depends on their needs, whether they want to increase their margins, get better price control, or make better and leaner decisions. The key thing is that they get something that tangibly improves their business”.
Since its services are now software-based, it means CBE’s devices are future-proofed as all updates are automatically sent to their clients via their online portal. The company does four releases per year so every customer has up-to-date software running in their stores.
The other area that such analytics and data can help with is understanding the customer. Not only can you get a breakdown of the type of demographics that visit, and the type of products regularly purchased, but you can take it a step further and introduce loyalty systems, promoting specific goods based on that customers’ needs.
The goal isn’t to create one massive change but lots of smaller changes that add up. One example Sheridan offered is by integrating contactless payment systems; a shop can save 14 minutes of transaction time over 250 transactions. In a busy retail environment, that can make a major difference.
However, Sheridan cautions those retailers not embracing or actively adapting to change will find it tough to survive, and should look at what areas they need to improve in first before introducing new technology.
“It’s something I try to relay to retailers and it’s along the lines of change,” he said. “In a lot of businesses, there are people doing the same thing they did 7 or 8 years ago… and the big thing with some retailers is they see technology as an unnecessary cost instead of embracing it”.
“[If they] see what other people are doing regards processes, how they handle deliveries and price change, they would see time saving and bottom line savings [in their shops]”.
Sheridan concludes, “Technology is there to help retailers and their customers. Stores that have embraced new initiatives such as self-checkout have seen huge improvements in customer satisfaction, reduced queues at peak periods, increased customer numbers and, significantly, it has provided a healthier bottom line.”