Maximising Christmas sales in store

As a customer, you can understand the frustration when you quickly pop to the shops on your lunch break to make a last minute Christmas purchase, tackling the hordes of people on the street to then be faced with long queues in store, or even worse, find that the merchandise is out of stock! Before you know it your time is up and it’s back to the office, sometimes empty handed.

So, why is it that after a year of planning that retailers aren’t any better prepared for the Christmas rush, ensuring that they are well stocked and that enough staff are available on the shop floor and on hand to help, armed with the knowledge and capability to cater to your needs?

Retailers need to utilise the customer and transactional data that they receive daily. Capturing and analysing this sales data would enable them to identify key trends in customer shopping habits, such as products in demand, so they can better prepare for the replenishment of goods that fly of the shelves. Special requirements for the sourcing and logistics of products in demand should also be agreed prior to Christmas, so when specific stock is low it can be quickly replenished to avoid customer disappointment.

On the shop floor, sales staff should be armed with mobile devices with access to product information so they can answer customer queries and provide additional information, also with capabilities to interrogate systems to check stock across the retail estate and if need be complete a transaction on the spot to prevent long queues at the till. This is also a great way for staff to interact with customers and upsell complementary merchandise.

It’s impossible to predict the exact future of customer demands and requirements, but ensuring that the shop environment and staff are well prepared for the Christmas rush will certainly result in increased sales, and ultimately a satisfied and repeat customer!

Managing the multi-tenanted pub

Pubs  used to function as a single unit business, typically owned and managed by a local that held the tenancy agreement. With this set up there was never any need to report sales data back to head office. Control of inventory was as simple as submitting an order to the brewery once a week – with the usual locals drinking their favoured tipple, it was easy to predict which drinks needed to be restocked on a regular basis.

Fast forward to the modern day pub, and you have a complicated network of multi-tenanted sites, all of which need to report transactional data back to head office to calculate the success of each tavern, with not only drink sales and replenishment to consider but in many cases food and supplies for a restaurant too.

On top of this, consumer expectations have risen, with top notch customer service expected, along with value added services such as free WiFi – long gone are the days when a mere fruit machine and pool table are acceptable entertainment for the night.

It’s certainly time that these multi-faceted businesses catch up with the times, along with their hotelier counterparts, and look to automate the transfer of critical business data with a business network that can handle the transaction of private data (payments transactions), as well as deliver a public network capable of delivering free WiFi, digital music and gaming (via the internet). Leaving the tenants free to concentrate on what’s important – the core business!

Personalise the customer service with captivating technology in store

Customer service in store will always be the defining factor when it comes to customers choosing to shop in store as opposed to online, but how can retailers take this a step further than the shop assistant asking if they can be of service, delivering a truly unforgettable experience?

Other than consumers loyal to particular brands, the delivery of this season’s new stock simply isn’t enough to encourage new customers in store anymore.

The way that people shop is evolving and the store’s role with it; in the era of the smart phone, the store is emerging as an interactive hub. Retailers must change with customers’ buying habits and enable them to interact with via their smart phone.

Coast, Oasis and Warehouse have recently installed WiFi networks to support their iPad MPoS system roll-out. The iPads all entirely different roles, from transactional MPoS for speed of service and queue busting, to improved customer information and wall mounted iPads in the changing rooms for interactive marketing – displaying image and video content on seasonal ranges, specific products and special offers.

Customers in store can also use the WiFi to access the internet on their own personal devices, although the Coast, Oasis and Warehouse networks are restricted to the retailer’s iPads for security purposes.

To support these types of new and emerging technology innovation, companies need robust and reliable network communications, ideally, delivered on only one network for visibility of critical business data.

The devices themselves need to be secure and used effectively for mobile PoS, online connection in store, stock checks and to display visual content, all of which contribute to improving the customer experience.

Preparing for the next generation of tech savvy consumers

If we consider the rate at which technology had developed over the past five years, with virtual changing rooms, visual screens integrated into shop walls, self-service kiosks and iPad points of sale (PoS) just to name a few, are the leisure and hospitality sectors ready for this next generation of consumer facing technology and the tech savvy consumer?

The answer to this question is no! In particular, the hospitality industry is overly cautious about their purse strings, but in a competitive and evolving environment it’s imperative that businesses look to invest in more customer service driven technology to thrive and survive.

It’s common for the head office to expect easy access to on-site data in real time, but with several disparate networks managing the transfer of on-site data and critical services, such as payments, sales reporting, free WiFi, CCTV, music and gaming – all relying on the broadband network to function – it’s more often than not that something as simple as transferring sales data becomes a challenge.

Other issues that come with this type of set up, is that it’s costly, unreliable and highly complicated. The bandwidth is often restricted by the many networks that run off the broadband, causing long delays in services, resulting in poor customer experience.

More of an issue is that a clunky network hinders the implementation of new technologies, such as contactless payments, mobile PoS (iPads) and digital music which are fast becoming the norm across industries.

American franchisees and London restaurants are currently trialling iPads integrated into the table, giving customers the option to make their own orders and settle the bill.

If businesses are to prepare themselves for being able to introduce these types of technologies, which are essential to the long term success, they need to consider a robust network that is capable of managing all of the above services as well as new emerging customer facing technologies.

When considering a network it’s important to ask the following questions:

Do your customers continually expect more and more IT and data provision?
Does your network have a number of VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) to support?
Does this cause you problems and waste valuable time and IT resources?
Do you have to look at IT support staff costs or possibly new staff members?
Do your internet facing circuits cause you pain with speed and reliability problems?
Would you like to have a fully managed MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) network but think it too expensive?

If you have answered YES to three or more of these questions and would like to find out more please visit: