Article | March 26, 2020
Manufacturers are facing a retail armageddon and need to find new ways of driving sales direct or squeezing as much as possible through the ecommerce platforms of their partners. Pivoting to a DTC business is not a quick fix and for many brands, their own ecommerce sites are just not fit for purpose or the budgets are not available to drive the qualified traffic through to purchase. That inevitably leaves a greater focus on driving sales through third party ecommerce sites. The ecommerce penetration rates vary massively from sector to sector and while they have been growing strongly, they have to date made up a relatively small percentage of online sales. Traditional retail still contributes significantly to the bulk of all purchases.
Article | March 26, 2020
CPG companies have been feeling the pain from store brands for close to a decade now. Increased quality, curated offerings and better graphics have all led shoppers to try and in many cases then switch to the store brand offering. The latest salvo in this war is about data. Supermarkets used to rely heavily on data and insights on everything from shelf placement to how to market and promote foods from the likes of their CPG partners as well as Nielsen and IRI, to name just a couple. Then "category captains" were created. Usually staffed from the leading CPG brand and headquartered at the retailer’s location, those CPG companies offered retailers insights and recommendations on how to sell more product across the entire category—not just their own brand. Those positions are being eliminated. The source and quality of data has changed. Grocers are relying on their own proprietary research to decide how and where and at what price to place products—their own brands as well as those from CPG.
Article | March 26, 2020
Next returned to selling clothes online this morning after the fashion retailer put extra safety measures in place to ensure warehouse staff can work safely during the pandemic. However, by 9am the website had closed again, with the high street giant saying it had already received all the orders it could process for the day – but it would return tomorrow. Next had initially closed its online operations in late March amid the coronavirus crisis, in response to criticism from staff who felt unsafe at work.
Article | March 26, 2020
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.