3 Ways AI and Chatbots Will Transform Retail in 2019

ABINASH TRIPATHY | January 30, 2019

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The idea that automation is going to be a key driver of transformation in the retail industry in 2019 isn’t a prediction, it’s a certainty.From FedEx automating its sorting and distribution facilities, to Amazon Go putting pressure on retailers to reinvent the shopping experience by, as the New York Times reported, “testing robots that help keep shelves stocked, apps that let shoppers ring up items with a smartphone, and high-tech systems [that] completely automate the checkout process,” automation will be a fact of life that retailers simply can’t afford to ignore any longer.Particularly when it comes to customer service.

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Getting smart about payment terminals

Article | April 15, 2021

For many years, payment terminals have been a vital tool for businesses that complete their customer transactions in-store. The familiar hand-held devices have reliably taken card payments and offered simple additional services like mobile phone top-ups, cashback or electronic tipping solutions. However, with recent technical innovation, boosted by the urgency surrounding Covid-19, the humble payment terminal is shedding its hard exterior - no longer is it, as some would argue, simply a commoditised, hardware-based necessity. As many within the payments space have predicted, the payment terminal is truly becoming a digital enabler and vital pivot point of modernisation for any business that accepts electronic transactions. The Android Operating System leads the way Today, payment terminals come in many forms. Though the traditional, handheld counter-top devices remain, many businesses now use off-the-shelf smartphones or tablets enabled with SPOC and CPOC technology. Regardless of their physical form, truly modern payment terminals share a commonality – enhanced functionality which allows businesses to update and adapt quickly to changing performance, environments, and customer needs. The Android operating system has been at the centre of a latest wave of innovation, facilitating the rise of mobile payment devices - pushed hard by the likes of Visa - and supporting the budding versatilities presented by Open Banking and PSD2 initiatives. Combined, this new choice and flexibility has the potential to deliver significant advantages to businesses deploying Android point-of-sale (POS) solutions. These include integrated EPOS, strong authentication, and an array of alternative payment methods such as bank-to-bank payments, QR codes and even crypto currencies. It’s about more than being just Covid-ready Getting the timing right to make adjustments and improvements is now a focus for businesses across the UK as we start to emerge from Covid-19 restrictions and resume face-to-face interactions. The conventional payment terminal can play a central part in engineering the essential adjustments needed to create a Covid-safe environment – the new £100 contactless limit being the most obvious example. However, functionality provided by the latest payment terminals allows businesses to do more than just make their premises Covid-ready. For more commercial gains, payment terminals running on the Android OS allow for this same POS functionality but combine it with other essential business systems such as stock management, visual itemisation, and centralised booking systems. As well as providing greater visibility of a business’ health and finances, more information also means friction points such as wait times and queues in store can be better managed. More data about customer behaviour also makes the in-store experience more customisable, for example, businesses can use this data to identify their busiest periods, explore seasonal changes or test new product lines and structure their staff planning and stock levels accordingly. Coupled with more vital operational efficiencies, payment terminals can allow for a speed and flexibility of payments that can directly enhance the bottom line. As the pace in retail environments ramps up to match that of the pre-Covid days, meeting new customer expectations and new environmental changes will be critical in staying relevant. An ability to accept the latest types and methods of payment could actually play a part in helping a business survive through difficult economic times. Bolstering cash flow will also take on added importance as businesses rebuild. Payment terminals powered by better internet connections mean transactions are already faster, but internet speed alone is not enough. Today, terminals can be updated in ways that allow merchants to process those transactions faster still and get funds deposited into bank accounts in batches throughout the day, often completing within the hour. Payment terminals and Big Data With data becoming the bedrock of all modern businesses, it is the Android operating system’s ability to generate such an impressive wealth of data that adds to its compelling proposition. The value of Big Data and analytics to filter large volumes of information and uncover actionable insights is well known to the business world. Useable information can help leaders learn about their customers, make better decisions and, ultimately, produce more revenue. Customer data, for example, makes it possible for a business to learn about the buying behaviours of an individual customer or of defined customer segments. When a business knows the time of day (or night) their customers shop and what type of purchases they make, it becomes easier to plan when inventories are stocked and with what items. Android payment terminals can provide data in a way that offers easy visibility of key trends and which specific hours of the day produce the most sales, allowing businesses to investigate possible reasons and react accordingly. Such knowledge can then be used for a variety of purposes including the ability to upsell to future customers with greater success and the tactical arrangement of items in store. Crucially now, it will also enable businesses to maintain a Covid-safe environment by planning ahead for in-store activity and capacity limits. With hundreds of applications already available to download from the app store, it’s important that SMEs are able to use this scale of choice to their advantage rather than become overwhelmed or distracted by it. Indeed, by taking the time to explore the apps available, smaller businesses can find the tools which allow them to level the playing field by bringing their operational efficiencies in line with larger brands and by leveraging the solutions that allow them to compete on customer service.

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Is It Too Early To Buy Retail Stocks?

Article | April 15, 2021

The coronavirus outbreak has been particularly lethal for the retail sector. The industry has been dealing with a variety of problems from store shutdowns to declines in tourism to a drop in demand for products considered non-essential. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF has fallen 25% this month, compared with a 14% decline for the S&P 500 Index. Before answering that question, we should take a look at the status of the current pandemic and its impact on the economy. Cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, have reached more than 600,000 worldwide. The U.S. now has the largest number of confirmed cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, U.S. jobless claims surged to more than 3 million for the week ending March 21 a new record due to disruption from the outbreak, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Former Amazon exec on the state of retail e-commerce

Article | April 15, 2021

The e-commerce retail environment is only getting more competitive thanks to digital and increasing mobile retail innovations. And while Amazon reins supreme, and often cited as the one to beat in e-commerce, the mega omnichannel player's marketplace can be a prime opportunity for online retailers big and small, brand name or no name. To get insight on what retailers should be doing and not doing in e-commerce to attract customers and drive business we reached out to James Thomson, who headed up Amazon Services for years and runs a summit/education conference for large Amazon sellers. He's also a partner in Buy Box Experts, an agency supporting brands that sell online.

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eCommerce losses to online payment fraud to exceed $25bn annually by 2024

Article | April 15, 2021

Ecommerce merchants are set to lose in excess of $25bn to online payment fraud by 2024, from just of $17 billion in 2020, despite the ongoing implementation of SCA (Secure Customer Authentication) in Europe. The new study from Juniper Research, Online Payment Fraud: Emerging Threats, Segment Analysis & Market Forecasts 2020-2024, finds that the popularity of eCommerce and increased card-present security with the introduction of EMV, have made eCommerce payments a compelling target for fraudsters. The research highlighted that eCommerce merchants outside Europe must adopt similar measures to SCA, including two-factor authentication, or they will suffer from increasing levels of sophisticated fraud. Payment gateways will be vital to ensure that these security requirements are implemented at scale.

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Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD) is a leading integrated retailer focused on seamlessly connecting the digital and physical shopping experiences to serve our members - wherever, whenever and however they want to shop.

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