Google Cloud unveils retail updates, expands Lowe’s and Wayfair partnerships

cloudcomputing | January 14, 2020

Google Cloud has announced it is expanding its retail acceleration program (RAP) among other initiatives designed to scale up retailers’ cloud projects. The moves were announced at NRF 2020, the biggest event in the retail space, with Google doubling down on its message to accelerate retailers’ digital growth and customer experience pinned together with its data expertise. Alongside RAP, which is Google’s overarching term for services which help retailers optimise their websites as well as drive greater footfall, other tools were announced in various stages of availability. Google Cloud Search for Retail, in the pilot stage, aims to utilise the company’s AI and machine learning tools to provide higher quality product search results for websites and applications, while Google Cloud 1:1 Engagement for Retail, just launched, is a best practice guide to building out models and products in data analytics platform BigQuery.

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John Crombie, Executive Managing Director, Retail Services, Canada, talks about the growing trend of mixed-used developments.


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POS SOLUTIONS

SoundHound Announces First-of-its-Kind Voice AI Ordering Service for Restaurants and POS Integration With Square

SoundHound | May 23, 2022

SoundHound AI, Inc. (“SoundHound”) (Nasdaq: SOUN), a global leader in voice artificial intelligence, announced a first-of-its-kind service that will allow restaurants to automate the phone ordering process. SoundHound and Square, the globally trusted software, payments and hardware company, are partnering to integrate SoundHound's conversational AI phone ordering automation with Square’s point-of-sale (POS) systems.When a customer calls into a restaurant to place an order, the SoundHound for Restaurants™ voice assistant immediately answers the call, takes the caller’s order, accepts modifications, and sends a confirmation to complete the payment. Callers can ask for what they want through a natural language interface powered by SoundHound's advanced conversational AI technology. Seamless integration and a simple four-step setup make SoundHound for Restaurants ideal for restaurant owners looking for cost-effective ways to handle the recent trends of increasing consumer demand for take-out orders and the impact of labor shortages. SoundHound’s voice assistant answers every call—even during peak hours—eliminating the busy signal, taking multiple orders simultaneously, and seamlessly processing the order and payment through Square’s POS system. "At Square, we are seeing sellers leverage the latest technology to meet customer demand regardless of size or complexity,Our partnership with SoundHound allows us to offer innovative and cost-effective solutions to restaurants working with small profit margins and facing multiple challenges—including the high cost of rapid labor turnover and shortages. This integration provides our sellers with the tools they need to offer a consistently high-level of customer service." -Bryan Solar, Head of Restaurants, Square. To get started, restaurant owners simply connect their Square POS to SoundHound for Restaurants, sync to the menu they want the voice assistant to use, and input the phone number for the system to answer. After that, SoundHound’s voice assistant acts just like a front of house staff member—answering the phone and taking orders. "We spoke with many restaurant operators to develop SoundHound for Restaurants and received overwhelming feedback about the need for automated solutions that help restaurants process more orders and meet growing consumer demands more efficiently, Our partnership with Square has given us the opportunity to bring the power of conversational AI technology to businesses that would otherwise not be able to access the convenience and efficiencies of a voice-enabled solution.” -James Hom, SoundHound Co-Founder and VP of Products SoundHound and Square will be exhibiting the new service at the National Restaurant Show to take place May 21-24, 2022, at Chicago’s McCormick Place. As part of the unveiling of the service, SoundHound plans to offer restaurants that sign up by June 30, 2022, free subscription fees through the end of the year. To sign up, please visit: soundhound.com/restaurants About SoundHound SoundHound (Nasdaq: SOUN), a leading innovator of conversational intelligence, offers an independent voice AI platform that enables businesses across industries to deliver best-in-class conversational experiences to their customers. Built on proprietary Speech-to-Meaning® and Deep Meaning Understanding® technologies, SoundHound’s advanced voice AI platform provides exceptional speed and accuracy and enables humans to interact with products and services like they interact with each other—by speaking naturally. SoundHound is trusted by companies around the globe, including Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Pandora, Qualcomm, Netflix, Deutsche Telekom, Snap, VIZIO, KIA, and Stellantis. www.soundhound.com

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POS HARDWARE

VERSABANK TO ACQUIRE OCC-CHARTERED NATIONAL US BANK, PROVIDING PLATFORM FOR GROWTH IN THE UNITED STATES

VersaBank | June 14, 2022

VersaBank ("VersaBank" or the "Bank") (TSX: VBNK) (NASDAQ: VBNK), a leader in digital banking and cyber security solutions, today announced that, through its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, VersaHoldings US Corp., it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Minnesota-based Stearns Bank Holdingford, N.A. ("SBH"), a privately held, wholly owned subsidiary of Stearns Financial Services Inc. ("SFSI") based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, for an estimated US$13.5million (CA$17.4 million) (subject to adjustment at closing). SBH is a fully operational national bank, OCC (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency)-chartered Bank, focused on small business lending, which is expected to add approximately US$60 million in total assets to VersaBank, subject to any adjustments at closing. Upon closing, SBH will be renamed VersaBank USA National Association. SFSI and its other subsidiaries (Stearns Bank N.A. ($2.2 billion in assets) and Stearns Bank Upsala, N.A. ($75 million in assets)) will continue to operate as usual. ABOUT STEARNS FINANCIAL SERVICES INC. Stearns Financial Services Inc. (SFSI) is a well-capitalized, $2.4 billion independent financial holding company based in St. Cloud, MN. It is the holding company for Stearns Bank N.A. and Stearns Bank Upsala, N.A. Recognized as one of the nation's top-performing banks by both American Banker and Independent Banker magazines, Stearns Bank specializes in nationwide construction finance, small business lending, and equipment financing. Driven by a passion to help others achieve their greatest ambitions, Stearns Bank gets the job done! For more information, visit StearnsBank.com. ABOUT VERSABANK VersaBank is a Canadian Schedule I chartered bank with a difference. VersaBank became the world's first fully digital financial institution when it adopted its highly efficient business-to-business model using its proprietary state-of-the-art financial technology to profitably address underserved segments of the Canadian banking market in the pursuit of superior net interest margins while mitigating risk. VersaBank obtains all of its deposits and provides the majority of its loans and leases electronically, with innovative deposit and lending solutions for financial intermediaries that allow them to excel in their core businesses. In addition, leveraging its internally developed IT security software and capabilities, VersaBank established wholly owned, Washington, DC-based subsidiary, DRT Cyber Inc. to pursue significant large-market opportunities in cyber security and develop innovative solutions to address the rapidly growing volume of cyber threats challenging financial institutions, multi-national corporations and government entities on a daily basis.

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POS SOLUTIONS

Promenade Launches Point of Sale Management Solution for Florists Across America

Promenade | July 18, 2022

Promenade Group today announced a streamlined, integrated business management platform for florists with the availability of BloomNation powered by Promenade POS. Complementing the acclaimed capabilities of the BloomNation e-commerce storefront solution, Promenade POS eliminates the complication of running online and in-store sales separately. Operating as a single platform, BloomNation powered by Promenade POS allows florists to run their flower shop with a complete set of management solutions for ordering, delivery, invoicing, proposals, and more. Originally called BloomNation, Promenade Group has spent 12 years working with local florists and understanding what shop owners need to successfully run a business. Promenade POS was built from the ground up specifically for florists – the complete platform provides the tools to manage online and in-store orders, build relationships with customers, run the back-office business, and generate repeat business. "Florists are creative artists, focused on designing beautiful arrangements that touch people's hearts and celebrate every day and special occasions, Promenade is committed to providing solutions that simplify and streamline business management tasks with a tightly integrated POS and e-commerce storefront allowing florists to focus on what they do best." -Farbod Shoraka, co-founder and CEO of Promenade. The Promenade POS solution allows florists to better manage inventory, response time, and fulfillment process with one place to store, organize, find, and process both e-commerce and in-store orders. The POS system is designed to improve efficiency and simplify back-office operations for florists. Additionally, it provides a solution to quickly respond to changing market dynamics with a cloud-based solution managed and continually updated by Promenade. Promenade's tightly integrated POS solution and online storefront put the power and time back in the hands of florists and allows them to do what they do best – impress and delight customers with creativity and service. Promenade POS and the e-commerce storefront enables florists to: Take orders anywhere, anytime, and on any device — in-store, online, or in the back office Accept any debit/credit card (Visa, MC, Amex, Discover), or accept contactless/NFC, magstripe or chip cards with the Promenade POS in-store card reader Easily manage house accounts and bill monthly or on-demand Organize and send detailed invoices to clients—with online payment options Build branded, customized proposals for large events and weddings, and follow up with an invoice Manage customer data within a sophisticated, built-in CRM system Provide data security and privacy with Stripe integration and private cloud deployment About Promenade Group- Promenade started as BloomNation in 2010 with a clear vision of empowering local businesses with the technology, knowledge, and support to attract and retain customers with a best-in-class experience. The Promenade e-commerce platform offers an intuitive online sales and shopping experience for thousands of neighborhood businesses across the country. From flowers to food to liquor, Promenade empowers small business owners with the tools they need to reach new customers, grow online sales, and easily manage both online and in-store orders.

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POS HARDWARE

Square Unveils Suite of New Integrated Restaurant Solutions to Help Increase Profitability and Improve Server and Customer Experience

Square | May 20, 2022

Square announced a suite of new software and hardware restaurant solutions. Built on the company’s experience in serving hundreds of thousands of restaurants over more than a decade, these new solutions help restaurants of all types and sizes, particularly full-service restaurants (FSRs), improve their bottom line and increase the efficiency of their operations. Square launched Square for Restaurants mobile POS, which gives servers the power of Square for Restaurants, an all-in-one restaurant POS, in their apron pocket - enabling them to quickly and seamlessly take orders and payments tableside or in line. Restaurants using the Square for Restaurants mobile POS beta program have been able to turn more tables and grow their sales even when they were short on staff. Square for Restaurants mobile POS runs on two handheld devices: Square Terminal and the forthcoming Restaurant Mobile POS kit, and as a launch promotion, restaurants will be able to use the software for $0 per location until early next year and just $50 after the promotional period ends. “We're seeing a lot of additional efficiency in our operations with Square for Restaurants mobile POS because our staff are spending more time on the floor rather than out of reach putting in orders, With the layout of our restaurant, Square for Restaurants mobile POS is saving a lot of physical steps, which has increased staff satisfaction and alleviated some of the stress on their positions. Alcohol sales also rose by 22% and we have seen voids due to out of stock items decline by 57%.” -Frankie DiCarlantonio, owner Scaffidi Restaurant Group. Square also announced Square Stand Mount, a versatile iPad point-of-sale that can be easily affixed to any wall or countertop right out of the box, or used as a kiosk. Coming soon, Square Stand Mount will allow restaurants to optimize space by mounting their POS to their ideal surface and helps waitstaff make checkout more efficient with integrated payments built in. Further, the company announced updates to the broader Square for Restaurants POS system, including: Coursing, a feature that helps restaurants manage the flow of orders to and from the kitchen, is now available on Square Register, Square for Restaurants mobile POS, and Square KDS. Now significantly more powerful, Coursing enables servers to send items as additions to courses already sent to the kitchen. At the same time, prep stations and expeditors will soon be able to flip between viewing everything fired, held, or completed, improving ticket readability, reducing errors, and providing diners an exceptional hospitality experience. Square KDS will soon enable restaurants to route tickets from a specific POS to a specific KDS, giving restaurants more flexibility in how they organize their kitchens to better support growing delivery and pickup orders. Along with other recent KDS feature launches such as seating and kitchen-facing names, restaurants can now use KDS as a full digital replacement for messy and expensive kitchen printers. Square’s powerful ecosystem offers first- and third-party integrations to seamlessly and efficiently power every element of a restaurant’s business operations, from delivery orders to team management. With Square Loyalty, sellers can schedule one-off or recurring promotions to drive more business on slower days. Square Payroll can help restaurants attract and retain staff in a challenging hiring market, with popular employee features such as On-Demand Pay, which enables W-2 employees to access up to 50% of their earned income before the pay period ends. Square will soon be introducing its first reservation & table management system integration with OpenTable, which will allow restaurants the ability to connect the data from their POS with the data from their OpenTable reservations system, unlocking better, more personalized customer experiences. Restaurants can now use SoundHound to take voice orders automatically without having to dedicate their limited staff to answering the phone, and this summer will be able to power their own delivery services (and maintain higher margins) via new integrations with Cartwheel and Vromo. “Square is dedicated to building the most robust ecosystem of products and services for restaurants of all types and sizes - from multi-location FSRs to QSRs, bars, breweries, and everywhere in between, No two restaurants are exactly alike and one solution doesn’t always fit all. That’s why we’re constantly working to grow and improve our suite of first-party products and partner integrations to enable restaurants around the globe to thrive in 2022 and beyond.” -Bryan Solar, Head of Restaurants at Square. Restaurant operators attending the National Restaurant Association Show from May 21-24 can visit Square’s booth #6057 for a preview of Square’s new and existing restaurants product suite. Attendees who meet with our Sales team and sign up with Square at the NRA Show will receive 3 months of Square SaaS software and may qualify for additional discounts on hardware and from Square partners. Square is also launching a new referral program available for a limited amount of time - offering exclusive perks to both the referrer and the referred as well as custom promotions for the Illinois Restaurant Association members - our latest partner.

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Spotlight

John Crombie, Executive Managing Director, Retail Services, Canada, talks about the growing trend of mixed-used developments.

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