Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 2014 Innovative Solution Awards


By Lisa Terry
Posted Date: 8/5/2014
Solving a problem. Driving innovation. Delivering ROI. Creating something unique and cool. Accomplishing just one of these is great. Doing all four at the same time is downright difficult. But that’s just what the winners of the annual Innovative Solutions Awards—a collaboration between VSR Magazine and the Retail Solutions Providers Association—have accomplished. Our judges—writers, editors and industry leaders—considered a boatload of entries from vendors, consultants, solution providers and end users, ultimately selecting six as winners of the 2014 Innovative Solution Awards.

VSR Magazine and the RSPA would like to congratulate the recipients of this year’s awards, which were presented at the RSPA’s RetailNOW Convention and Expo during the show’s awards banquet on August 5 in Orlando.

Payment Processing

By iDriveThru

If the best things come to those who wait, it stands to reason they can come while waiting to pay at the Dunkin Donuts drive-through—from an eight-year-old.

That was the genesis of iDriveThru, conceived by Eli Grinvald’s daughter while getting breakfast at DD while on vacation. Why can’t the RFID toll tag be used to pay for their meal, Grinvald wondered, and why don’t they know who we are and what we want by now?

He soon discovered the RFID toll tag would really be the best way to recognize customers and transact payment. The northeast’s EZPass toll system doesn’t lend itself to commercial transactions, but the tag does, and there are 110 million parking or toll tags out there. He and three partners founded iDriveThru
(idrivethru.com) and designed a system that overcomes the problems that doomed previous toll tag payment systems.

Where the solution really delivers value is in places where you stop, order, fumble for a wallet and pay, like quick service, parking, car washes, pharmacies and amusement parks.

Consumers opt in by linking a payment card to the device ID on their existing transponder (EZ-Pass, Sun­Pass, etc.). An RFID reader above the ordering intercom reads the toll tag and a customer-facing monitor welcomes the user by name, displays reward points and notifies the cashier. Complete POS integration, using Datacaps NETePayintegrated payments software, allows for an intuitive ordering process, then the consumer is invited to pay with iDriveThru. The cashier taps a button on the POS and the transaction is complete. NETePay communicates with iDriveThru servers to obtain the user’s tokenized card data and forwards it to the merchant’s payment processor.

Speed is critical in quick service and long lines drive consumers away. iDriveThru solves this by removing payment, building customer loyalty and retention and delivering in-depth customer analytics. A five-unit Wendy’s franchise in Staten Island is an early adopter.

The solution is flexible to switch payment mechanisms and to expand to solve more merchant problems, says Grinvald. “We’re all about integration, adding value and enhancing experience and merchant revenue.”

Customer Engagement Technology
OPI Consumer Price Scanner
By Optical Phusion

Laws can definitely drive markets, for example, the item pricing law in Massachusetts that says for every 5,000 square feet, retailers need to offer a price checker with printing capability. But Optical Phusion (opticalphusion.com) wanted to deliver much more value than simple price checkers.

OPI did extensive research on retailers’ needs and discovered that they preferred to invest in a solution that not only complies with the law, but offers a return on investment. So OPI developed and beta tested solutions until they arrived at a flexible kiosk design that not only allows consumers to scan UPC to view and/or print item prices via a Motorola scanner, but can also be configured to check inventory at any of the retailer’s stores, interact with loyalty programs and print custom coupons based on past purchases via a Zebra printer mechanism. Consumers can also summon a store attendant from a kiosk.

Extensive research led to a highly refined final configuration, such as encasing the printer to prevent customers from pulling labels before printing was complete.

They also developed a “Video 6” option to work in tandem with the OPI price checker. Video 6 is a video content management tool application that features a management console that enables store managers to customize a promotional message by department or location within the store to alert customers to outstanding deals. Video 6 is also a real-time management tool for the distribution and version control of HD videos to the reseller’s OPI price checkers and electronic signage. In addition, Video 6 enables a tablet to perform multiple functions such as promotional videos, price checking, gift registry and loyalty functions on the same device.

OPI price scanner is installed in several major name brand supermarket and smaller chains, well beyond Massachusetts.

“This has helped us attract new customers not based in Massachusetts,” says Scott Arnold, president of OPI. “We’ve been able to land three to four national accounts and broaden our geography.” Clients can expand their relationship with Video 6 and install a RFID portal reader solution to identify loyalty customers via RFID card as they arrive in store.

POS Solution
Solution for Salon Centric
By Essential Systems Solutions

Salon trade shows are big business for L’Oreal’s Salon Centric professional haircare products division, as much as $1 million for a three-day show. But a cash register system with separate credit card processing, set up and torn down for every event, was leading to entry errors, long training times, weeklong delays in sales reporting and inventory management based on shipment, not sales. Set-up and breakdown was time-consuming for Essential Systems Solutions (esspos.com), entailing complex cable management.

Salon Centric asked for a mobile tablet solution, but a test showed it was unworkable due to high cash volume and the need to use costly on-site Wi-Fi. L’Oreal wanted a small footprint and integration with a back office SAP system to get better visibility into sales and inventory.

ESS POS delivered and then some. Its solution uses Par EverServ 500 terminals with PixelPoint POS, Honeywell barcode scanner and APG 1416 cash drawer that integrate into a neat, 13” by 13” Touch Dynamic all-in-one printer base with Epson TM-T70 printer. ESS POS also designed a wooden shipping container that securely houses 16 terminals staged and ready to go, without the need for time-consuming shrink wrap.

L’Oreal Salon Centric purchased 50 terminals and licenses, and contracts ESS POS for set-up, support and tear down at 18 annual events. Now payment processing is reduced from 25 seconds to three, sales are up 50%, inventory data is available instantly, lines move faster and integrated processing lowered fees. Training is much faster, and Salon Centric can easily bundle products and create new UPCs to drive sales. The system also enables commissions, so the professional salesforce now has reason to drive traffic to shows, says Jason Thompson, president of ESS.

The solution is delivering better performance and is easier to use, says Michael Tash, VP of ESS POS. “The client is extremely happy.” That’s great, because Salon Centric also has 450 stores whose staff also work the shows, creating demand and opportunity for the solution in those stores. It has also opened up a new market opportunity in trade show POS solutions; ESS POS has already added a BBQ festival.

Software Application
By StopLift Checkout Vision Systems

POS-video integration has made identifying and analyzing fraudulent transactions a lot easier. But its Achilles heel is sweethearting, because there is no data for something that was never scanned.

As he worked on an MBA field study on preventing retail shrinkage, Malay Kundu learned that most of the $10 billion in shrinkage is internal and happens at checkout, and as a result many retailers use video surveillance there. “I had that aha moment,” says Kundu, founder and CEO.

Knowing retailers are cost-conscious, with tight margins, he and his development team formed StopLift Checkout Vision Systems (stoplift.com) and designed a solution that uses already installed POS and over-checkout CCTV equipment—analog or IP. Using real video from retailers’ checkouts, they developed ScanItAll, a solution that uses computer vision technology to interpret cashier and customer body motions at checkout. The system analyzes pixels in real time to identify fraudulent behavior, such as failing to scan or covering a barcode, as well as items remaining anywhere in the cart.

The solution includes a secure Web 2.0 interface to view and analyze actionable incidents detected by StopLift. By combining state-of-the-art web video streaming technology with video-to-transaction log synchronization, the ScanItAll web application allows an advanced, intuitive and easy-to-use access to actionable incidents on any of the major web browsers without the need to install additional software.

Retailers can be alerted the first time a fraudulent incident occurs, significantly reducing shrinkage, deterring future theft, and boosting profitability. Retailers often use it to improve training or start building a case, Kundu says.

The SaaS-based system runs on an in-store server running video analytics, and uses existing POS and cameras. “Resellers can resell our hardware or build their own servers: We’re about the software,” says Kundu. ScanItAll is already installed in stores across the globe, where it reduces inventory shrinkage by 10% to 15%, and returns on investment in six to nine months. StopLift is working on a mobile checkout version.

The most recent enhancement is a self-checkout version, the Self Checkout Accelerator, which uses similar technology to improve the self-checkout experience by identifying legitimate behavior that would otherwise cause a system disruption, such as a purse on the scale.

One Step Retail Solutions POS with Genius Customer Engagement Platform
By One Step Retail Solutions and Merchant Warehouse

“Gaze into your crystal ball and tell me what new payment paradigms will win so I know what to buy.” That’s a request heard every day by POS solution providers, including One Step Retail Solutions (onestepretail.com). Keeping merchants up to date on PCI requirements and card association mandates is tough when you know the latest solution may soon need to be upgraded or replaced yet again.

One Step, which serves SMBs of five to 100 stores, approached POS software developer Retail Pro International to find a solution. That ultimately led to Merchant Warehouse and its Genius Customer Engagement Platform: a flexible, user-friendly, hardware-agnostic software platform to accommodate current and future payment paradigms so customers can pay how they want. It also shields POS from sensitive card data through tokenization and offers loyalty and marketing capabilities.

Options include traditional, chip and PIN, mobile wallets or other mobile payment technologies, including NFC, EMV and QR/2D bar codes, as well as integration with retailer loyalty and reward programs. Payment hardware companies now offer products with all of these options; Genius replaces the OS on that hardware and is remote-upgradeable. “It’s like an app store, where you click on an app and add it to your phone,” says Scott Kreisberg, CEO/founder of One Step Retail Solutions. “The usability is something everyone understands.”

After a six-month integration and testing process between Retail Pro and Merchant Warehouse, One Step provided a pilot customer for testing and customer feedback.

Genius is “a great asset for us,” says Kreisberg. For retailers, he says, flexible payment options help SMBs level the playing field with larger chains. That capability is a selling point, and One Step now offers it in LightSpeed and Teamwork Retail POS applications too. But in addition, “the people who have bought it are finding the user interface easy to handle, so they’re not having to call us with a bunch of questions,” Kreisberg says. “It also helps us with PCI compliance by lowering the risk of exposure. We’re number two in line for lawsuits after the manufacturer. We’re really confident in that aspect.”

Mobile Solution
By FoodTec Solutions

Managing food delivery services has long been a seat-of-your-pants operation; even years of experience could be thwarted by kitchen or traffic delays. Previous attempts to solve the problem with dedicated mobile devices and data plans were too costly. As smartphones and cheap data became pervasive, FoodTec Solutions (foodtecsolutions.com) saw the chance to develop a highly impactful solution for current and future customers.

The result was DeliveryIQ, an integrated native Apple and Android solution that tracks food orders and drivers while providing management and consumers with real­time updates, order status and driver location information. The solution leverages GPS sensors, phone-based and in-house mapping capabilities and ping messaging to FoodTec’s cloud to maintain communication among drivers’ phones and the restaurant. DeliveryIQ integrates with POS and kitchen systems.

Using this data, kitchen orders can sync with current demand and delivery promises. Dispatchers or drivers themselves can make intelligent decisions about timing and grouping orders. Drivers can communicate en route with customers—who can track the driver’s progress—and upon arrival, hand the phone to the customer for coupon redemption, payment and gratuity. Order-takers can confidently deliver accurate delivery times to customers at the time or order and via delivery confirmations, increasing customer satisfaction and driver tips. Owners know exactly where their drivers are, increasing their sense of safety and control.

“Restaurants gain the ability to deliver more orders in less time, and do so with fewer drivers,” says Andrew Bounas, president of FoodTec. “Costs are reduced and customer satisfaction increases.”

Early adopters have seen their number of deliveries increase more than 20% with the same number of drivers, fees to drivers increase more than 20%, tips to drivers rise by 10% or more, and average minutes per delivery drop from 24.43 minutes to 21.87 minutes.

DeliveryIQ is the first FoodTec product that can be integrated with other POS systems, opening up a larger market opportunity. That’s particularly attractive as more restaurants add delivery services. “We estimate 20% of restaurants in the country will do delivery in the next couple of years,” says Alan Hayman of Hayman Consulting Group, who is working with FoodTec on marketing and development. VSR

To view the original article visit: http://vsr.edgl.com/magazine/August-2014/The-2014-Innovative-Solution-Awards94322

Friday, August 22, 2014

8 Reasons to Do A Pop-Up Shop

  • by Humayun Khan
  • Posted in Physical Retail
  • June 13, 2014
  • Pop-up shops are the Snapchat of retail; Most of their magic comes from their temporary and "get-it-while-it-lasts" nature.

    In fact, according to Specialty Retail, pop-ups are expected to be a $8 billion a year industry, and has everyone from Warby Parker to popular boy band One Direction trying to get in on the action.
    Not only can the location of a pop-up vary but brands use them for a wide array of purposes, from creating an unforgettable and branded experience for consumers that generate buzz and brand awareness, to quickly testing and experimenting in what used to be costly retail waters. In essence, pop-ups are transforming the way we shop.

    Over the last few months, we've been busy creating resources to help merchants who might have only sold exclusively online to consider thinking about pop-ups shops as another sales channel. From picking and negotiating the perfect location, designing the store interior and displays, to marketing and evaluating your success, we hope to provide everything you'll need to get started.

    Regardless of whether you're considering your first pop-up or have a few under your belt, here are eight reasons why every ecommerce merchant should give pop-up shops a chance.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Nordstrom Sees Sales Boost From Mobile POS Devices

    Kelly Clay Contributor 

    Long lines are one of the worst nightmares for retailers – especially those with consumers about to make purchases worth hundreds of dollars. For these customers, standing in line for several minutes provides the opportunity to think about the purchase they are about to make. This time can allow customers to think about the necessity of the purchase and the cost, and given too much time to over-analyze the potential purchase, a customer standing in line can easily decide to set aside part of the potential purchase and pay less for fewer items – or even walk away entirely.

    Retailers like Apple and Home Depot recognized the need to eradicate this wait several years ago, providing employees with mobile POS devices that enable them check out customers from anywhere within the store if the customer is paying with a debit or credit card. Employees at Apple’s retail stores have been armed with iOS devices for several years, enabling consumers to easily make purchases without waiting in line. In early 2011, Home Depot introduced their “First Phone” to allow customers to check out from anywhere within the store, also without having to wait in line.
    Now, Nordstrom, the Seattle-based fashion and beauty retailer offering apparel, shoes, makeup and other beauty products, is rolling out mobile point-of-sale (POS) devices throughout their full-line stores, as well as in some of their Nordstrom Rack stores. These mobile POS devices, which is a modified iPod Touch with a merchandise scanner and credit card slider, allow employees to check out customers from anywhere in the store. The app on the device also provides Nordstrom’s sales staff access to the company’s entire inventory, which is useful when helping customers check if an alternative size or color is available elsewhere, without needing a register to look up that information.

    Nordstrom has deployed over 6,000 of these devices throughout their 117 full-line stores, and at some Nordstrom locations, there are more mobile POS devices than regular registers. Colin Johnson, a spokesperson for Nordstrom, says that these devices are part of a larger plan for Nordstrom to help “provide a more technology enabled store experience.” He notes that in 2005, Nordstrom began offering the option to ship merchandise directly to customers, and in 2009 the company integrated inventory with its online store. In 2010, Nordstrom then introduced WiFi into stores to “make it easier for customers to stay connected in the stores by using their mobile devices to shop and to compare and learn more about merchandise.”

    With WiFi, Nordstrom laid a foundation for these new mobile POS devices, which Nordstrom finished initially rolling out in mid-2011 and are primarily being used in B.P. (the trendy young women’s section) and shoes, which is a conglomerate of smaller departments catering towards specific demographics. Other departments using these devices include men’s. At the flagship Nordstrom store in downtown Seattle, most sales associates in these departments can be found armed with a mobile point-of-sale device and using them to checkout customers paying with plastic. When a Nordstrom customer checks out with a mobile POS, they can sign for their purchase and enter an email address for a paperless receipt. For most Nordstrom customers, checking out with a mobile POS is an incredibly intuitive and almost shockingly simple experience.
    Johnson explains that the goal of using the mobile POS for Nordstrom is really to “take care of customer anywhere in the store. We don’t have to take you to the cash register, and instead, can do that right there with you on dressing room or when you’re trying on shoes – and then you’re on your way.” He adds, “that kind of ability to increase speed and convenience is increasingly important.”

    Increasingly important for not just the customer’s convenience, but for Nordstrom’s sales. According to the company’s 2012 March Sales Report, “Preliminary quarter-to-date total retail sales of $1.73 billion increased 15.3 percent compared with total retail sales of $1.50 billion for the same period in fiscal 2011.” Additionally, according to the 2011 Nordstrom Annual Report, “both the average selling price and the number of items sold increased in 2011 compared with 2010.”

    Is it a coincidence that the average number of items sold and the average selling price both increased after implementing mobile point-of-sale devices? While Johnson explains that the new mobile POS at Nordstrom is designed to provide a “faster and more convenient experience for customers and reduce the time it takes time for customers to check out,” he adds that “anything that can help that is beneficial.”

    This efficiency undoubtedly reduces the potential amount of time customers have to think about their purchases before they reach the register. Though consumers may enjoy the convenience these new mobile POS devices offer, both Nordstrom’s 2012 March Sales Report and 2011 sales figures allude to the real benefit of these new mobile point-of-sale devices.

    To view the original article visit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2012/04/06/nordstrom-sees-15-3-increase-in-retail-sales-following-introduction-of-mobile-pos-devices/

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    How Did You Hear About Us?

    You have undoubtedly heard that question a multitude of times. "How did you hear about us?" is one of the most important questions a retailer can ask at point of sale and can lead to thousands upon thousands of future sales.
    Your retail management software should support your marketing efforts in every way possible and include a feature for tracking and analyzing where customers have come in from; word of mouth, newspaper ads, mailers, Yelp, a blogger, etc. 

    If your Point of Sale or Retail Management System is not EMPOWERING you as a retailer, give us a call at 800-266-1328

    One Step Retail Solutions has helped thousands of retailers nationwide achieve their retail goals through top of the line retail technology. With a consultative and personal approach, One Step is a top resource for point of sale / retail management systems available on the market. Having been in business for over 27 years we have evolved relationships with specialists industry-wide and strive to bring educational resources to our retailers and other retail friends.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Visual Expert Amy Meadows Shares Tips and Thoughts on Making YOUR Shop Windows Matter

    Marshall Field's State Street


    It’s been said that the “eyes are the windows of the soul.” For smart retailers, the windows of your stores are the eyes into your soul. In your windows, you show off what you consider to be your shop’s main draw, your shop’s personality and individuality, and the merchandise that defines your role in the retail community.

    For designer, visual-merchandise consultant, and entrepreneur Amy Meadows, windows are the heart and soul of her business. Working as a go-to guru for well-known department stores and top-of-the-line organizations, Meadows founded Windows Matter (www.windowsmatter.com). Her purpose is to provide a “variety of services, but most specifically to meet the needs of independent businesses and business districts. My programs include assessments, coaching, makeovers and more.”
    Meadows sat down with Smart Retailer to chat about the ins and outs of making your storefront speak clearly and precisely about your business’s purpose.

    SR: What are some of the lessons you impart to your seminar attendees? Do you have some rules or principles they should put into practice:

    AM: I emphasize the need to be clean, consistent, and creative. By “clean,” I mean both in terms of visual clutter and housekeeping. Honestly, make that glass sparkle. It makes a world of difference. For “consistent,” do your signs, your website, and your marketing collateral correspond in terms of font, color, and aesthetics? Sit down and think, “Do my displays and props complement my store’s brands?” For “creative,” I don’t mean “artistry” as much as I mean problem solving. Retailers have to be bright, think fast, and be quick to improvise.
    Marshall Field's State Street
    SR: A lot of retailers are losing business or at least foot traffic to people who browse on the Web. Is there any way to use the cyber world to a retailer’s display advantage?

    AM: Yes, inspiration can come from anywhere, and the Web is a helpful tool in that regard. Maintain a Pinterest board, keep an idea file, be open to what you see around you in life and online. Stay inspired!
    Marshall Field's State Street Window
    SR: What are some of the most common mistakes you see shop owners make with their spaces and displaying?

    AM: I think many try to tell too many stories in their displays. I stress “edit, edit, and edit.” Then edit some more!
    Macy's State Street Store
    SR: If a retailer doesn’t have the money to hire a designer or doesn’t have the cash to redo a store right now, what are some quick tips to make their displays pop?

    AM: This is a simple one. Stand across the street. What do you see? What does your customer see? If objectivity is too difficult, find a buddy who will give you feedback. If nothing more, spend time cleaning, lighting, and addressing details.
    Marshall Field's State Street
    SR: How crucial is it for retailers to have a clever or eye-catching, well-delineated display?

    AM: This is a critical component to your shop’s ultimate success. When all is said and done, your storefront still remains your best advertisement.

    To view the original article please visit: Smart Retailer

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Back-to-School Shopping Sprees are a Thing of the Past

     Back-to-school shopping sprees are a thing of the past
    Back-to-school shopping is no longer a frenzied one-day spending spree. Families are spending more, but they are doing so over a longer period of time as they search for the best deals.

    Families are expected to spend $670 on average on back-to-school shopping, up 5% from last year, according to data out Thursday from the National Retail Federation. That includes spending on school supplies, clothes and electronics.

    But analysts and parents say the slow economic recovery, plus access to near-constant online deals, means back-to-school shopping is no longer a big event.

    Instead, parents like Tracy Seebold, 48, are shopping strategically — buying online and picking up additional in-store items when necessary. Seebold, who lives in Mifflinburg, Penn., with her children aged 10 and 14, has already purchased a few school items, including new shoes. She says she started now so that she could spread her purchases out over the next couple of months.

    REVIEWED.COM: The children's lunchbox even adults will love

    "We had done a big spree up until a couple years ago, but that's fallen to the wayside," Seebold says. "I love going back-to-school shopping, but it's just not possible this year."

    Seebold, who plans to spend no more than $300 during the official back-to-school season, is limiting her purchases to necessities like notebooks and "first-day" outfits in hopes there will be better deals after school starts.

    Many shoppers are likely spreading out their shopping, says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics Advisors. He says the back-to-school season is no longer limited to a single day of shopping in the middle of July or August.

    But just because consumers aren't crowding stores in the weeks leading up to school,that doesn't mean they're not spending more . Rather, Naroff says, consumers with approaches like Seebold's may actually end up spending more over time.

    "It may not be the big push that retailers really expect, but it doesn't mean (consumers) aren't spending," Naroff says.

    Combined spending for back-to-school is expected to reach almost $75 billion — up 3% from last year,

    And it's not just parents seeking out discounts, notes Laura Champine, a retail analyst with Canaccord Genuity.

    "Even kids are price sensitive now ... and are looking for a combination of good prices and good quality and good style," Champine says.

    Brad Wilson of BradsDeals.com says the best way to save on back-to-school shopping is to avoid the school store and bricks-and-mortar stores in general because in-store merchandising efforts are designed to get consumers to buy more. Mark LoCastro, spokesman for DealNews, says if consumers can hold out on their back-to-school shopping until Labor Day sales, they can save even more.
    Some of best deals Wilson recommends: ​

    · Classroom supplies: Walmart and Staples are likely to have the best deals, but Walgreens can also have big discounts, especially at the end of July and early August. Wilson says shopping at these stores online can also save time and money. Staples currently has a coupon for $5 off in-store purchases of $25 or more.

    · Backpacks: Kohl's is offering up to 40% off on backpacks and an additional 15% with the coupon available on BradsDeals.com

    · Technology: Students can receive a $100 gift card from Apple when they buy a Mac or a $50 gift card when they buy an iPad or iPhone if they shop online. (The Apple Education Online Store is one of the only places to offer discounts to people with .edu email addresses.) Otherwise, Wilson says technology re-sellers like Amazon and Best Buy can help save up to $200 on Apple products.
    LoCastro says the best time to purchase laptops is in August, which is when 62% of all 2013 laptop deals occurred.

    Camie Donohue lives in Minnetonka, Minn., and has two elementary school-aged children. Like Seebold, she says she's limiting her budget and skipping the back-to-school shopping spree. Fortunately for Donohue, her children's school makes the classroom portion of the supply list easy with a prepackaged box available for purchase — a trend Wilson says is becoming popular among parents and schools, though he says families could save 30% to 40% by doing their own shopping online.

    "If I went through every single item (in the box) and price compared, I could probably save a couple dollars," Donohue says. "But that's time I'd rather spend comparing the price of snow boots than pencils."

    To view the original article visit: USA TODAY