Tag: restaurant management erp

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Streamline ordering and communication with a connected Kitchen Display System (KDS)

Since LS One 2020 was released in July, the LS One team has been developing extra functionality to enhance the system. They have put special focus on extending the capabilities for restaurants and food service businesses. Trident is LS Retail Central Platinum Partner, offering ERP for Retail & Hospitality.

The Kitchen Display System (KDS) is a digital order viewer that replaces paper tickets and printers in a restaurant kitchen. A KDS has become an essential component in a modern kitchen, as it helps organize and streamline work:

  • No more stained, hard-to-read paper tickets: all orders are displayed on screens, clear and tidy.
  • No need for servers to waste time running from the front to the kitchen and back: all communication between kitchen and front (orders, items, their preparation status) goes through your POS system.
  • Items and orders are automatically routed and displayed at the proper food preparation stations.
  • Items are shown on the screens by production order, so kitchen staff can start and complete preparation timely.
  • Kitchen staff can bump dishes to different stations, or mark orders and items as ready.
  • The Kitchen Display System and the POS are connected via a two-way communication system. Front-of-house staff can see the status of orders at the POS, and make sure all dishes are delivered to the guests at the right time.
  • You can add screens and set up specific automations to follow your kitchen’s flow.

In the past, to connect a KDS to LS One you needed to do your own integration. From this version of LS One onwards, you can use your LS One POS system with the LS Retail Kitchen Display System. The systems are connected out of the box, no extra work needed.

Picture this:

Your server takes the order at the POS. When they send the order to the kitchen, the items are automatically routed to the KDS in the correct kitchen station (for example, the grill station versus the sauté or dessert station), and displayed in the right order of production.

When a guest asks “When is my dish coming?” front-of-house staff can check at the POS the status of the order, and update the table. Easy, quick, and professional.

Sell groups of items easily with assembly items

It’s now easier than ever before to sell multiple items at once – for example, as a gift basket. In LS One you can now create “assembly items” by combining different items into one. The options are endless:

  • Set up deals (or meal deals, if you run a restaurant or café)
  • Create hampers and gift baskets
  • Make bills of materials
  • Set up recipes, managing the ingredients as separate items
  • Assemble supply kits

Do you run a chain, and want to differentiate your offering across locations?

You can vary the list of component items between locations, and easily substitute products or ingredients as needed. For example, your holiday hamper can include Gouda cheese, instead of brie, in some of your store locations.

You can set a special price for the final item, or add up the prices of the items that compose it – your choice. If you want, you can also display the list of components on the POS receipt, on the printed receipt, and on kitchen orders – or you can hide it.

The integration to SAP Business One ERP just keeps on getting better

Since we introduced the out-of-the-box integration between LS One and ERP SAP Business One, more and more businesses have moved from other POS solutions to LS One. Using their valuable feedback, we have been working on the integration to make it even more immediate and seamless.

  • You can now add a U.S. tax setup when you create a customer on the POS
  • The login service layer is more intuitive and quicker
  • We have added tax synchronization for specific localizations
  • You can now easily connect to different versions of SAP Business One HANA

More enhancements to come as the LS One team keeps on ironing out the wrinkles.

Endlessly enhancing LS One

We are continuously working on improving LS One in terms of functionality, speed and simplicity. Some highlights from this release:

  • You can now add the company’s country information
  • Discount calculations are way faster than before
  • We have redesigned the “send to station” and “menu type selection” dialogs (restaurant-specific functionality)
  • The kitchen printing/send to station functionality is now fast and seamless (restaurant-specific).

You can find more enhancements and fixes in the release notes. And as usual, more improvements are ahead as the team keeps on working to make LS One the best POS in the industry.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or any query for us, get in touch! or write at info@tridentinfo.com

 

 

Retail ERP Software

How to reduce queues in your retail store and keep customers safe

Consumers hate standing in line at the store. This is nothing new. Nine out of ten UK shoppers interviewed by Box Technologies and Intel revealed they avoided stores with long queues. When Amazon opened its cashier-less, checkout-less store Amazon Go, many hailed it as a much-needed revolution exactly because it eliminated the need to queue to check out.

Since Covid-19 hit, long lines have gone from being simply a nuisance and a waste of time to a potential hazard.

As a retailer, how can you reduce the risk of lines forming without going the Amazon Go route? Here are six ideas.

1. Bring the register to the customer with mobile POS

Today, the most advanced retail software solutions enable you to run the Point of Sale (POS) on mobile devices like tablet computers or smartphones. Your staff can look up information, scan items, close transactions, accept payments and print receipts anywhere the customers are, both inside and outside the store premises. No need for customers to line up at the register and wait for their turn. Another advantage of mobile POS is that you can easily add more devices when needed, without having to devote space to extra registers. [Download our whitepaper “No more strings” to find out more benefits of adding mobile Point of Sale to your in-store experience]

2. Add special stations for complex processes

Simple sales are usually fast to handle, so a line of customers simply buying items usually flows rapidly. On the other hand, more complex processes like returns, custom orders or loyalty program signups can take longer, and slow down the line significantly. Since simple sales usually outnumber complex ones, you can reduce the average waiting time having a special service station for shoppers who need extra help, for example those needing refunds, exchanges, special orders and more.

3. Experiment with virtual queues

With a virtual queue machine, customers can take a number and secure a place in a queue without actually having to stand in line, close to each other. Although these kind of machines are common in service centers like post offices and banks, they are not as widespread in retail stores, especially at the register. My local electronics store, for example, uses virtual queuing for customers looking for assistance, but relies on traditional lines at the register. Are they missing an opportunity? An added reason to try out virtual queues is that they give customers the time to wander around the store while waiting – a great opportunity for them to see   extra items they might want to add to their cart.

4. Set up one-to-one appointments

Not all retail store visits need to be unplanned walk-ins. If a consultation or special attention is required, more retailers are encouraging people to book a time beforehand, so they can be given the time and attention they need. Jewelry chains Watches of Switzerland and Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb started booking one-to-one appointments with customers as soon as they reopened their stores after the temporary pandemic closures. Craig Bolton, executive director of The Watches of Switzerland Group, says that his company set up 13,000 one-to-one virtual and in-store appointments in the last two weeks of July alone. Although this format may not fit retailers in all industries, reservations can help organize the flux of incoming visitors and ensure that you have the time and space you need for your customers.

5. Add “scan and go” tech

The latest revolution in Point of Sale technology sees the POS move into the consumer’s hands. Scan and go mobile apps allow consumers to self-serve in the shop, using either their personal mobile device or a provided handset to scan items and pay. The process is different from traditional mobile POS, not just because customers take care of the scanning themselves but also because items are scanned as they are added to the cart. Although for now Scan and Go technology is most common in grocery stores, there is no reason why retailers in other sectors shouldn’t take advantage of it. In a fashion, health, electronics or DIY store, customers would benefit from the ability to add items to the basket at their convenience while limiting human-to-human contact.

Scan and go apps have other benefits, too. When they scan aa barcode , customers can see all the product details, including information like nutrition, components or ingredients and care instructions– a great way for shoppers to get all the extra information they need to make a buying decision without having to touch the product.

6. Empower your staff with intuitive, reliable tech

Is outdated, slow technology one of the causes of long lines in your store? One of our customers told us a horror story of their old POS breaking down during the Christmas Eve rush. “It was a nightmare: one of our cash registers locked up, causing all of the systems in our main store to go down. Lines wrapped around the store because we had to process all transactions manually by writing everything down. We easily lost $20,000 that day, and who knows the long term effects it had on repeat business.” His conclusion? “The most important criterion when choosing a system is reliability.” Take a hard look at your technology: is it still serving your customers adequately? When selecting new software, look for systems that ensure short transaction times.

 

Long queues used to be a luxury problem for a retailer; not anymore. Do you need help finding the right technology to give customers a safe, pleasant experience in your stores? Do not hesitate to contact us.

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8 tips to build a successful restaurant experience in times of crisis and beyond

Digital transformation is no longer a choice. That’s the key message from the experts who spoke at “How to build a successful restaurant experience in Covid times,” an online event organized by LS Retail and Microsoft. The panel included industry experts from Microsoft and LS Retail as well as Leon DeWet, a CIO with decades of experiences in the F&B industry. The group discussed how restaurants can build competences and resilience to maintain customer loyalty and thrive, now and through the next crisis. This blog is mainly for Restaurant management software & tips for Successful restaurant  experience

Restaurant Management Software

Here are 8 tips from the experts to help you approach this digital transformation, so that you can ride the next wave of change instead of being crushed by it.

1. Rethink every step of the journey

Yesterday, you had to deliver convenience and hospitality; today, you must also guarantee customer and employee safety.

Many restaurants have added quick fixes, such as covering payment devices in plastic, so they can easily be sanitized. “How often does the reader on the contactless device not work, now that it’s covered in plastic?,” Minicola asked attendees, adding “And how often do restaurants ask me to touch the screen anyway to provide a tip?”

The boom of contactless payments, home delivery, drive-thru and curbside is not temporary. Restaurants must step back, rethink the whole journey, and implement solutions that are effective and designed to last long-term.

Two examples that were mentioned of additions that will bring a benefit now and tomorrow:

  • Menus that can be accessed via a QR code are useful now – paper menus are hard to sanitize – and will provide a value later on, as they enable restaurants to make quick menu changes without wasting time or printing costs.
  • Software to manage tables and seating plans can help you easily redesign your floor plan, with safely distanced tables and clear tracking of who is seating where and when for contact tracing purposes. In the future, table management software can help you optimize seating space, track the status of each table (who is waiting to order, who has been served) and easily accommodate last-minute guests, all the while keeping your service flawless.

2. Focus on mobility

Mobility should be a priority in any digitization project. Running your Point of Sale on mobile devices helps you manage the flow of guests and staff inside the restaurant premises. Your server can take an order from a group sitting on the terrace, and then go to another table, take their card payment and see them out. Service is faster and more convenient for your guests, who can stay seated throughout. At the same time, you reduce the risk of contagion by reducing needless walking around and queuing at the till, and by letting servers using a personal device instead of sharing a standard till.

And if your POS offers a two-way connection to the display systems in the kitchen, you get a whole set of extra benefits. “With our restaurant software, when you punch in an order at the POS, the order is sent automatically to a digital display at the correct kitchen station. Your front-of-house staff is spared all the needless back and forth from the table to the kitchen and to the register. The result is less risk of contact, and less time wasted,” said Eric Miller, Regional Director at LS Retail. But this is just scratching the surface. Mobile POS, especially when part of an interconnected technology platform, also enables more precise communication between front of house and kitchen, reduces the risk of production mistakes, and helps speed up table turns. Michael Mento, Surface specialist at Microsoft, described how eagerly restaurants have adopted the Surface tablet devices, which also come with accessories specifically designed for use on the restaurant floor.

BLOG IN_ Restaurant in times of crisis 2-

3. Build your experiences on a strong technology platform

Customers demand consistent experiences, and these can only be achieved through a unified approach to technology.

Unified software solutions are increasingly replacing traditional fragmented IT setups. The benefits are well known:

  • Managers geta 360-degree view of the organisation, with all business and customer data accessible in one place.
  • Decision making is faster, as managers can get actionable reports, accounts and statistics exactly when they need them.
  • Implementation and management costs are lower, as you don’t need to integrate separate systems and to maintain these integrations.
  • You can transmit information quickly across the company, from the dishes on today’s menu to recipes, prices and nutritional content. So everyone can always perform at the top of their abilities.

And if you run your unified software in the cloud, you can grab opportunities as they arise. As the pandemic hit, companies that run their software in the cloud, and who were not burdened by traditional on-prem infrastructure, investments and timelines, have been able to add innovative technology and transform their business models faster. “For many restaurants, the ability to add systems for pickup, delivery, and curbside made the difference between success and closing up doors,” Miller pointed out.

Leon DeWet, former CIO at F&B enterprises Cracker Barrel and O’Charley’s, reminded business to consider how well the selected software and hardware work together. “If one works, but the other one doesn’t deliver, the project fails,” he noted. “Look for a solution that is proven for software and hardware working together.” Mento, from the Microsoft Surface team, echoed DeWet’s words.

4. Track changes in customer behavior

With people working from home and stuck in lockdowns, restaurants have seen tremendous changes. They have lost old customers, gained new ones, and seen regulars approach them at different times, with new needs. These are changes businesses must pay attention to. “You need to capture this data, or you have no way to build your strategy on driving loyalty now and into the future,” said Minicola. “You cannot establish and foster loyalty without data,” she added.

Access to data that is both reliable and timely is necessary for action. You need to clearly see what is happening to react, and prevent issues and waste. “During the pandemic, many restaurants have had problems sourcing specific ingredients,” said Miller. “With our software, you can do predictive cost analysis, and experiment varying prices, menus and recipes. The system helps you find the sweet spot with optimum benefits. You can then use this knowledge to build resilience into your supply chain in preparation for similar events down the road.” Having clear visibility of your available stock across your locations also enables you to optimize stock usage, for example moving the content of your freezers from a location in a mall that is seeing no foot traffic to one that is still doing good business.

Restaurant Management Software

5. Change your metrics

The world has changed, and how you define success needs to change, too. DeWet believes that too many restaurants are stuck to old KPIs, and took table turns as an example. “How fast you can turn a table is only important if you have guests to fill that table. Don’t be blinded by what has historically been deemed key metrics within the organization. Understand what’s happening in your business now before you decide which metrics to focus on,” he advised.

Change your metrics, and be ready to tweak them again and again. “You can’t use current behavior as an indicator of how customers will deal with you in the future,” Minicola pointed out.

6. Use intelligent tools to predict the future

DeWet, who describes himself as a true fan of intelligent analytics, believes that too many restaurant businesses don’t use their analytical capabilities to their full potential.

“Most organizations are still too focused on just using analytics reactively. They look at the historical data to try and understand what has happened. But it’s with predictive analytics that you get the true value of your intelligence,” said DeWet. Predictive analytics look at disparate large data and find those correlations that can help you foresee changes in trends, so you can understand where the business may be going. For example, if you see that average miles driven begins to drop, you can use AI-powered tools to investigate what typically happens when that situation occurs. This helps you predict when you can expect it, and prepare for it.

DeWet also described the benefits of using a business intelligence platform that can pull in big data. “Marrying your internal data with external data about your environment you can get a much clearer picture of how guest behavior might change. In some areas of your business, a small change in your behavior or in your processes can drive huge benefits,” he said.

7. Don’t forget the human factor

Even though social distancing has changed the entire experience of dining in, guests still want to get a social, warm, personalized experience from their restaurant visit. Employee empowerment – allowing your staff to create the atmosphere of hospitality that drives people back – remains essential to breed loyalty.

“We all strive for loyalty – but it all starts with personal connections,” said Minicola. “If you want to connect with me, you have to talk to me. And that’s how you collect my data, get to know me better, and can then send me offers that drive me back through your doors.”

Carefully select your staff members, and take care of them. “When your staff are well cared for, your customers will be well cared for, too,” said Minicola.

Restaurant Management Software

8. Think long term

An effective digital transformation is built on long-term thinking. “Who would have though, just a year ago, that curbside delivery would be a thing for restaurants like it is for Walmart?” Minicola asked. DeWet advised restaurant CIOs that “We need to change our mindset, and realize that an investment in technology is no different from an investment in the latest air conditioning, or fry system. In both cases, you are investing in a key infrastructure that will enable to do business on an ongoing basis. You can’t wait until the demand is there before you make that investment. You need to be ready ahead of time,” he concluded.

There will be no “going back to normal” after Covid-19. Consumer demand will keep on shifting in different directions, and restaurants must be ready to constantly transform. “There’s a value in being prepared for the future. Even if a technology may not drive clear returns today, if it puts you in a position to be able to respond to changes, then it’s worth it,” DeWet said.

Digital transformation is become an imperative, but restaurants don’t have to do it all on their own. “No one expects you to understand it all. That’s why you have partners,” Minicola said. If you need help in getting your digital transformation going, contact us.

Retail ERP Software

Why organizational change projects fail and how to prevent implementation disaster

New IT installations often fail. At least that’s the widespread belief surrounding organizational change initiatives today.

One frequently cited study from the 1993 book Reengineering the Corporation goes as far as saying that as many as 70% of the organizations that undertake a reengineering effort do not achieve the dramatic results they intended. A more recent McKinsey survey of more than 1,500 executives who had undertaken a significant change effort in the past five years found that only 38% of respondents said “the transformation was ‘completely’ or ‘mostly’ successful at improving performance.

After two decades of hearing about high failure rates related to change, it’s unsurprising that business leaders are wary of organizational change projects. Organizational psychologist Nick Tasler explained that these negative biases can create a toxic self-fulfilling prophecy.

“When a change project falls a day behind schedule, if leaders and employees believe that successful change is an unlikely outcome, they will regard this momentary setback as the dead canary in the coalmine of their change initiative. (Never mind the fact that three other initiatives are still on time or ahead of schedule),” he wrote in an article for Harvard Business Review. “Suddenly, employees disengage en masse and then the change engine begins to sputter in both perception and reality.”

Yes, change is hard, and complex IT implementation projects, particularly ERP installations, can be particularly challenging. But it doesn’t mean they are doomed to failure.

So where do you start? How can you choose the right technology for your retail business, and ensure that the implementation project runs as smoothly as possible and you get the most from your investment?

Here are some of the main causes for failure in any organizational change initiative, and how can you prevent them from happening:

Mistake #1: Failure to plan

Issue: An outdated legacy system is impacting business performance, and it needs replacing quickly. In their rush to get the project going, business management jump straight into the implementation without taking the time to develop a well thought-out organizational change management plan.

Solution: Don’t be tempted to cut corners in your planning. Analyze your business, decide what should be prioritized, and understand all the different ways the project will impact your routines at every stage of the process. “Companies should start by analyzing their current and future requirements and processes,” says Gunnar Ingimundarson, Chief Consulting Officer at LS Retail. “How many software solutions are they currently using, and what are they used for? Map out the disparate solutions in the stack, alongside their dependencies and interconnections. The next step is to figure out where they can draw the biggest – or quickest – benefits. Is your POS system not generating the information you need on stock levels and product visibility? Or, are there integrations that repeatedly cause problems or break down? Do you experience missing data? Identify the area(s) where a new system would bring immediate value in terms of savings or returns. That’s where you should start, and that should determine your priorities.”

Once the priorities are set, break the project down into manageable chunks, from pilot phase to initial implementation to company-wide rollout. Consider when it’s most appropriate to start each phase of the installation so you won’t place unnecessary strain on your business during busy times.

Mistake #2: Key stakeholders aren’t onboard, or have unrealistic expectations

Issue: Management want the new technology in place quickly and only focus on the end goals. They get frustrated by how long the project is taking and threaten to pull the plug. Or they wonder why the new software isn’t being adopted widely and successfully when they failed to communicate the changes to everybody in the business and get company-wide buy in.

Solution: All stakeholders need to be committed to the project’s success right from the beginning, and to clearly understand the project’s scope and goals. “Internal resistance can kill even the best implementation project,” says Eric Miller, Regional Director for the Americas at LS Retail, building on his 13 years of experience in software implementations. “Get the buy-in from all stakeholders from the start, and make sure that the goals, objectives and expected end results of the project are clear and communicated from you to the stakeholders, and from the stakeholders to all the customer parties involved. It never pays off to sell a dream you can’t deliver on.”

Bring together personnel from different departments to understand their requirements and what outcomes they hope to achieve from the implementation. Similarly, they need to understand how much time should be devoted to a project like this and ensure project teams are given sufficient time to carry out the work. Set realistic timeframes from the start, and ensure everyone knows exactly what’s required of them.

Mistake #3: Unforeseen changes throw the project off track

Issue: Even the best prepared projects encounter hurdles along the way, but if unforeseen issues arise and major milestones are missed, it can be tempting to throw in the towel and deem the entire project a failure.

Solution: Know that when you’re dealing with a large-scale IT implementation, it’s hard to plan for every eventuality. Be willing to adapt and take a different approach if it ultimately means the project will be a success. “What was deemed to be the best approach initially may need to change – this might even happen after the pilot is completed. I have seen companies that went through multiple pilots before finding the right balance. It’s a learning process, and it’s never over,” says Miller.

It’s worth learning everything you can from the pilot implementation. Instead of rushing on to roll out store #2, take a moment to see how the system is working and to identify any issues that you couldn’t have planned for in your testing environment. Success comes to those who take a considered approach.

Mistake #4: Picking the wrong technology partner

Issue: It may be tempting to go for the cheapest technology provider, but cheapest upfront may not necessarily deliver the long-term business value you hoped for. You quickly realize they can’t help you achieve your outcomes, because they lack drive, or even expertise.

Solution: Before you enter a work relationship, ask yourself who your long-term partner should be and what knowledge they should have in order to support you throughout the project. Are they familiar with the retail industry, its requirements and workings? Do they fully understand your business needs? Can they come up with ideas and solutions when a challenge arises? Once the pilot and system roll out are complete, will they provide the ongoing support that you’ll need?

It’s important to choose an IT partner that has deep knowledge of the industries you operate within. Their technology has to relate directly to your business needs and they need to appreciate the unique intricacies of what you need to be able to do. Consider how they tackle problems as they arise, and if they can foresee challenges and risks that you may not have considered. Your technology provider should be a long-term partner, someone you are confident working with and that you trust to take the right decision for your success. Trident is one of Best ERP Implementation partner in India, UAE & South Africa, you can contact us for any type of ERP Implementation, Support, Training, Resource, etc.

Mistake #5: A focus on short term wins rather than the bigger picture

Issue: The upfront costs of the project are high and management struggle to see the overall business value. They’re concerned about how quickly they’ll achieve a return on investment. They begin to think that it may be cheaper and easier to simply fix their legacy system and keep it ticking over for a few more years.

Solution: While it’s important to focus on the immediate benefits the new solution will bring to your business, it’s just as critical to consider the longer-term impacts too. You may be looking for your solution to quickly boost productivity, deliver business efficiencies and achieve a fast return on investment, but consider other far-reaching benefits it can bring too. How will it positively change the way your employees work? That is, how many work hours will you save by automating tasks that are currently done by hand? How will it enable your business to scale and grow? What other functionality will you be able to add, which will impact the bottom line? “When calculating the software solution’s return on investment, it pays off to keep your perspective open,” Eric Miller suggests. “You can’t really put a price on a platform that will help you streamline the business, cut needless manual processes, and that can scale with your needs and adapt to changing consumer requirements.”

Do you need expert help to make your next organizational change project a success? Get in touch: our team of  can help you get the most from your technology.

Blog Reference : LS Retail Blogs

Retail ERP Software

6 tips to help you win at omni-channel

Even if retailers have been talking about investing in omni-channel for over a decade, many still lack basic omni-channel capabilities. For example, only 5 percent of retailers can successfully give consumers the ability to start and finish a sale in their preferred channel, Luxury Daily reports. But consumers aren’t waiting for retailers to get their act together. In the past year, almost 9 out of 10 (88%) shoppers have researched and selected options online before heading out to a store, the Ecommerce Foundation reports. And when in-store, Google reports, 50% of them turned to the internet: to research products they’ll then discuss with the sales staff, to remind themselves of what to buy, to see product specs, and more.

Retailers have no time to waste. They need to be where their customers are, with answers to their questions, smooth and simple shopping journeys, and timely information and support.

In your journey on improving your omni-channel strategy, here are seven points on which you should concentrate your efforts:

1. Be consistent with your branding

There’s nothing worse for an omni-channel brand than to offer a disconnected experience across the different channels.

Successful brands are consistent in both brand image (think color scheme, corporate story, style, products, voice) and quality of service (customer support, return policies, personalization, product suggestions) in-store, on their website, on the loyalty app and on social media.

International coffee company Nespresso is a great example of cohesive visual branding. The graphic design and color palette are kept consistent throughout the channels, and they function as a common thread that guides every step of the customer journey, from e-commerce website, to mobile app, to the confirmation e-mail customers receive after placing an order — all the way to the package that arrives to the customer’s doors.

If your offline presence is hip, youthful and colorful, but your app is dull and offers few options to interact with products; if you emphasize customer service, but then don’t respond timely (or don’t reply at all!) to customer queries on Twitter; if customers receive different information depending on which representative they contact – you will confuse and lose customers.

2. Unify the sales channels

Customers want to be able to see on your website whether the latest smartphone model is available in gold in a specific store. They want to go on your e-commerce, and add to their cart that art deco lamp they saw in your shop while they were on holiday. They want to send back at their convenience the too-tight shoes they bought in one of your store locations.

These are all common requests – and yet, too many retailers can’t fulfil them. That’s because many of them are still using separate best-of-breed, badly-integrated solutions. “Many retailers have pieced together disparate systems and processes to try and create a holistic shopping environment, but it really doesn’t provide what the customer is looking for,” says Kathleen Fischer, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. The result is

  • Inability to see what products are available in real time – or where they are located;
  • Inability to accept returns across channels;
  • Risk of selling items that are not in stock;
  • Inability to offer highly in-demand services like click & collect, ordering from store, or online inventory search.

The only way you can fulfil these demands is by implementing technology that gives you centralized visibility and control over your stock, locations and sales. A unified commerce platform like LS Central gives you the visibility you need to know how many items are still available and where they are located exactly, and lets you easily accept exchanges and returns across your whole retail network.

3. Be honest and clear

Research shows that seventy percent of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart before finalizing their purchase. The most common cause? Unclear or excessive shipping costs, which often become apparent too late in the buying process.

Successful retailers display their sales conditions in clear and visible format on their website. Take, for example, sportswear and outdoors retailer Transa. When you browse the product selection, the key sales conditions (delivery time, shipping costs, return conditions) are stated clearly next to each item. Buyers know the conditions of the sale before they have added an item to their cart, so they can make an informed decision early in the shopping journey.

To decrease the chance of shopping cart abandonment, create a relationship of trust with your customers, and be upfront about shipping prices and timesshipment restrictions and special conditions. You don’t want to tell a customer that their country is not eligible for delivery when they are ready to check out a full cart of products.

4. Let customers check product availability

According to Forrester research, 71 percent of customers expect to be able to see available inventory online. Leading retailers are taking note, and even taking it one step further: on its e-commerce website, IKEA lists where each item is available alongside the quantity left in stock in each store.

Even if you don’t want to go to such lengths, your product listing should at least:

  • Be complete and updated. Customers should be able to see in which location the product they want is available, in their preferred variant. If you use a unified commerce system, you can maintain information in one database, and then distribute it to the e-commerce, POS and back office. This way, both staff and customers can access the same real-time data, and if the inventory changes, for example if an item is sold, this is instantly reflected on all touchpoints.
  • Include detailed product information. When shopping for items online, customers don’t have the touch-and-feel element. Make up for it by including the item materials (or ingredients), any special care warnings, warranty information, and special return policies. If you stock similar products, you should ensure that you give enough information so consumers can make an informed choice. Better yet, include a comparison table.
  • Feature clear, high-quality pictures. According to research by Field Agent, 83% of consumers believe product images are very important when selecting and purchasing a product. If you can, consider including videos: according to a survey by Wyzowl, 80% of people say that product videos give them more confidence when purchasing a product online. From showing details of the item, to tutorials to how-tos, there are a few options you can choose. Go for the format that will better resonate with your audience and provide them with the information they need to close the sale.
  • Include product reviews. According to research by the National Retail Federation, 96% of shoppers read reviews on the retailers’ site, and a quarter of them say that reviews are the most influential factor in buying decisions, mattering more than price comparisons or advice from friends.

5. Put customer needs at the heart of your strategy

You can’t afford to wait for consumers to come to you. People spend most of their waking life with a computer in their hands: identify moments of opportunity in the customer journey, and make sure you are there at the right time.

Take, for example, American pharmacy and health care company CVS/Health. The company debuted a customer app that was designed to solve a common problem: manage complex medication schedules. On the app, customers can set up reminders to take medicines. The reminders can even be loaded onto an Apple watch. When they enter a CVS/Health pharmacy, a notification lets app users know if their medications are ready for pickup. This success of the app is due to it being designed to give consumers a useful service – not merely sell more.

Help consumers. Solve their problems. They will pay you back with their trust and business.

6. Use the data you collect

Every day, you collect an incredible wealth of data on you customers: what pages they visit on your e-commerce, what they add to the cart (and eventually buy, or leave behind), what items sell better where, which products are often returned, what’s most popular with your top customers, and more. Successful omni-channel retailers capture this data and turn it into action.

Take for example videogames chain GameStop International. GameStop runs a successful loyalty program with over 50 million members. By analyzing the customer data collected through the program, GameStop:

  • Discovered that rewards don’t influence customer engagement. Instead, what makes the program valuable for customers are personalized communications and offers.
  • Created hyper-targeted emails (which, for example, suggest to users what new games they could get by trading in their old ones, based on purchase history). This increased the open rate from 15% to 35%.
  • Diversified their offering to include collectibles, a business that has become very valuable for the brand.
  • As a result, expanded and diversified their customer base.

To achieve these insights and act on them, retailers need the data – but although necessary, data is not sufficient. Many retailers are still using systems made up of separate, integrated software solutions. This results in information silos, and data that is fragmented and hard to access. As a result, most companies have a lot of data, but only able to analyze a small part of it – barely 12%, according to Forrester research. The solution is a unified commerce system, a single platform that captures all of your consumers’ shopping behaviors, interests and purchase history. When data from all your channels is collected in one place, it is much simpler to link it and create a complete, 360-degree view of your customers.

Forward-thinking retailers are aligning messages, objectives, information and design across platforms – and ensuring that everything works together. As a result, they are redesigning the shopping journey as a seamless, all-encompassing experience.

Would you like to get there too, but don’t know where to begin? Contact us. Our experts will be happy to introduce you to the possibilities that unified retail tech opens.

Blog Reference: LS Retail Blog Forum

Restaurant Management ERP

How the self-service trend is transforming restaurants

Modern consumer places a huge value on convenience. A recent report by the National Retail Federation found that 97% of consumers have backed out of a purchase just because it was inconvenient for them. And in quick service restaurants, figures show that lengthy queues can be off-putting: almost three out of four guests say they would leave if there were seven people in line. More than nine out of ten said they would go elsewhere if there were more than 10 people queuing before them.

Taking the example of supermarkets, which have successfully alleviated queues with self-service checkouts, fast food brands are now adopting touch-screen self-service kiosks. And as more report the positive impact of these kiosks, adoption is rapidly taking off.

The rise of self-service kiosks

McDonald’s now has self-service kiosks in all 14,000 of its US restaurants. When it began rolling them out in 2017, it said its intention was to enhance the customer experience by speeding up ordering time, reducing human error and allowing for easier order customizations.

Almost three years on, McDonald’s is living proof of the success of self-service kiosks. During its 2019 Q2 earnings call, CEO Steve Easterbrook said the chain is seeing impressive incremental sales rises from its use of kiosks.

“As we convert the restaurants, we’re getting an incremental sales lift from that, some of which will come through growing and increasing use of the self-order kiosks where we generate higher average checks,” he said.

Interestingly, not only are self-service kiosks delivering on consumer desire for ultimate convenience, they’re altering behavior too. As the use of the technology grows, self-ordering has been demonstrated to boost sales by increasing the average order size per customer, while at the same time lowering costs in the restaurant by improving efficiency.

There are some compelling statistics to illustrate the impact. When the Dodgers Stadium concession stands in the US tried out new self-service kiosks, the average order size increased by 20%. Similarly, Subway noted that kiosks encourage more consumers to purchase add-ons and generally spend more.

The traditional experience

Lee heads to his local Easy Burger for lunch. He isn’t a regular customer so he doesn’t know the menu well. It’s a busy Friday afternoon in the restaurant and as he joins the queue he starts scanning the menu board behind the counter to see what he would like. When he gets to the front, he still isn’t quite sure what he wants and spends a few more moments deciding. By this point he’s a bit flustered. He doesn’t want to hold up the queue, so he quickly orders the standard burger meal with no cheese and large fries. It’s noisy in the kitchen, and the server asks Lee to repeat his order. She presses the buttons on the cash register to input Lee’s choice, and politely waits for him to decide which drink he’d like before finalizing the order and taking his payment. This all takes place in the midst of noises coming from the kitchen, voices of customers waiting, and general pressure from people standing in line waiting for their turn. It’s clear to see that there are several opportunities for mistakes, delays and general frustration from both the customer and the cashier.

The self-service experience

What would the same scenario look like with a self-service kiosk? Again, Lee heads to Easy Burger to pick up his lunch. It’s busy, but Lee heads to a self-service kiosk, where he doesn’t have to queue to place his order.

Lee hasn’t actually used one of these kiosks before, but because it looks just like a large version of his mobile phone and all the menu items are clearly labelled, he has no qualms about trying out the technology. With nobody standing behind him putting pressure on him to quickly place his order, Lee feels he can take the time he needs to choose his lunch. He scrolls through the menu and takes in the appealing pictures of food, drinks, and add-on items. He ends up trying out a new meal deal and customizes his burger (no pickles, extra onions and mushrooms), adding the curly fries with cheese – they look too good not to try them. It’s a pleasant, stress free experience.

After selecting the items, Lee taps his credit card on the contactless card reader and heads to the counter to wait for his order. He can clearly see his order on the screen above him, so he know there are five orders before his – a bit of a wait, but not too much, before it’s ready. A few minutes later, his number is called out. He picks up his food and heads straight to a clean, empty table. That’s another added bonus. With fewer employees required at the counter, they can spend more time in the kitchen, speeding up food preparation, and on the floor, making sure the restaurant stays clean and tidy.

Embracing the trend with LS Central

Restaurants are embracing the trend in different ways. Some are buying self-service kiosks running systems and interfaces separate from what is used across the rest of restaurant. This decision entails a lot of extra work, as these systems will have to be integrated with the IT setup, and then updated and maintained individually over time.

Thankfully, there is another option. If you selected a unified restaurant management solution like LS Central, you enable customers to order and check out for themselves using the exact same POS system that cashiers use at the manned tills. This wouldn’t be possible with many other restaurant management systems because they are too complicated, and can’t be used effectively without previous training.

Not LS Central.

There are more benefits, too. You can easily amend and customize the looks of the kiosk to suit your needs. Just as you would customize the POS, you can change interface and menu options to suit your branding, and apply the changes across all your locations – no headache of setting up the brand look for each individual kiosks.

Simple menu customization also means you have the freedom to A/B test ways to present the menu to see what works best and yields the greatest results. When you get smart about how you showcase your menu, you can capitalize on more upsell and cross-sell opportunities and promote the higher margin menu items. Perhaps you choose to highlight your latest meal deals on the top level of the screen or maybe you collapse certain menu choices at different times of the day to speed up the ordering process.

Digitalized self-ordering also helps you to manage your inventory proactively. So, if you find that beef burgers are running low, but you have plenty of chicken burgers available, you can quickly change the menu on the machines to highlight mouth-watering chicken burgers on the first-level menu instead. Or perhaps your smoothie machine breaks down: instead of striking a line across the item, you can temporarily remove those items from the menu and highlight alternatives such as milkshakes and ice creams.

Making a difference in the kitchen

This streamlined, user friendly experience transfers into the kitchen too. Orders are automatically sent to the kitchen display system (KDS) and presented clearly to your kitchen staff. The system can further help improve efficiency by routing orders to the proper food preparation stations, organizing items so they are prepared in the right order and ready at the same time, and alerting staff when orders have been in the queue too long. At the same time, front-of-house staff (and customers) can see the exact status of each order and pick them up as soon as they are ready.

Setting your restaurant business up for long-term success

Despite the current success of kiosks, many restaurateurs wonder whether this is just the flavor of the month. Will kiosks still be popular with consumers another year or two down the line? While we can’t predict the future, we can see that the big brands have been cautious. A quick service restaurant expert and Forbes contributor wrote an article in 2010 called “Quick-service restaurant kiosks: What’s taking so long?” One reason why we’re seeing wider adoption now is because the technology is proving its success.

As kiosk usage rises, customers will increasingly expect to find self-ordering options in fast food outlets. Research shows that customers are more likely to visit restaurants with self-service kiosks and a growing number prefer this option to interacting with a cashier behind the counter.

As more diners seek ultimate convenience, faster ordering and more payment options, self-service kiosks are proving the best solution to meet their demand and enhance the transaction journey from start to finish.

 

blog Reference: https://www.lsretail.com/blog/how-the-self-service-trend-is-transforming-restaurants

Retail ERP Software

How AI and AR can help retailers stay in business in moments of crisis

Store closures and social distancing have caused a rise in demand for virtual tools and technologies that bring the shopping experience into consumers’ homes. Beauty brands, which were among the first to try out AI and AR to enhance the consumer experience, are increasingly using the technology to suggest products based on people’s preferences and unique characteristics, including skin tone and face shape, as well as to help customers virtually try on products before committing to a purchase. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the technology had already proved its worth. Figures from Perfect Corp, which develops virtual makeup technology, show that virtual try-on technology generated 2.5 times higher e-commerce conversions for brands and decreased return rates by more than 8%. Trident is offering Cloud Based Retail ERP Software to manager retail operations effectively

As the technology develops and becomes more sophisticated, consumers are progressively trusting in AI to help them make purchase decisions.

“Consumers trust AI to curate a choice of products, services and experiences that reduce complexity and make life more fulfilling,” writes Andrew Cosgrove, Global Consumer Knowledge Leader & Lead Analyst at EY. “AI knows its “owner” so well that it suggests new and unexpected product ideas or experiences they love.”

Digital suddenly finds itself one of the main commerce channels for retailers. We expect AI and AR are here to stay, as more consumers become aware of their virtues when it comes to convenience, and as these technologies can help retailers to continue trading regardless of what happens in the real world.

Here are four ways to make AI and AR work for your business:

1. Bring the in-store shopping experience to your customers’ homes

AI and AR take online shopping to a whole new level by making it possible for consumers to choose from selected products picked out just for them, try out new experiences and test products in ways they wouldn’t have been able to previously – all from the comfort of their homes.

Early pioneers of AI- and AR-powered online shopping include opticians, who realized that consumers still want the option to try on glasses and see what styles suit them before committing to a purchase. Virtual fitting technology has made this possible, with some retailers further elevating the experience using AI to automatically suggest the perfect frame to suit your face.

Indeed, AI lends itself to verticals where consumers may find themselves bogged down in complex choices. Instead of having to scroll through hundreds and hundreds of beauty products, for example, new services such as My Beauty Matches use AI-powered algorithms, and using the consumer’s previous searches, purchases, and known preferences, they suggest items from large databases (in this case, there are over 400,000 products) that couldn’t be easily browsed by the consumer.

Advances in machine learning help brands to identify consumer styles and preferences to gain a granular level of customer understanding, so they can optimize each customer’s individual journey.

“In one of the worlds we modeled, consumers valued time much more than money,” Andrew Cosgrove, Global Consumer Knowledge Leader & Lead Analyst at EY, said. “Their personalized AI learned about their unique preferences and used those insights to buy most of the things they needed. This allowed them to spend their time shopping only with brands that reflected their values and purpose.”

2. Find the right items across infinite aisles of products

The most successful AI and AR experiences today tend to be delivered by retailers that have large item assortments and the ability for consumers to personalize their choices. Home goods and furniture retailers are a clear use case, with many using the technology to help customers choose products that will fit beautifully into their homes and match their existing décor.

Online furniture retailer Wayfair is known for using AI to target customers with personalized recommendations. The company’s search algorithm extracts the customer’s style preferences from their search history to present a selection of furniture that is likely to appeal. Another service allows customers to take a photo of a furniture piece they like and match it to a similar item in the Wayfair inventory, which holds millions of products.

AR then takes this a step further by giving consumers the ability to virtually see how products will look in situ before committing to a purchase. Returns on investment have been demonstrated with increased conversion and reduced returns.

AI is proving its worth in fashion too, helping customers choose clothing that will fit them best by analyzing previous purchases and suggesting sizing based on their profile. Iconic jeans brand Levi’s uses an AI-based chatbot to help customers find the perfect pair of jeans. It asks consumers their preferences when it comes to fit, rise, amount of stretch and wash, and asks what size they are in another brand to determine the best size in Levi’s and suggest the right pair.

And in beauty, brands are using the technology to offer services such as instant foundation shade matching and advanced skincare analysis, as well as matching consumers with products and looks that will suit their complexion, style and occasion.

3. Anticipate consumer demands

One of the major benefits that retailers can draw from AI and AR experiences is the amount of data they can collect about their consumers along the way. This data, if collected appropriately, can be used to improve the accuracy of stock and inventory requirements forecasts throughout the year.

“As consumers browse, test features and make purchases, they are providing retailers with an entirely new set of data points,” writes Hamaad Chippa on Retail TouchPoints.

Retailers can then use this information to rethink product assortments for a better shopping experience, or to develop highly targeted marketing campaigns that lead to greater conversion rates. For example, a customer who just bought a whole load of supplies from a pet store for their new kitten is likely to want to sign up for home deliveries of cat food.

AI can also help retailers target consumers with promotions that are more likely to lead to purchases based on past browsing and purchase history.  “Whether that is 10% off online, 15% in-store or free shipping, customers automatically receive the promotions that are most likely to make them convert,” writes Imtiaz Mohammady on Forbes.

4. Optimize inventory, both present and future

Retailers are increasingly using AI to gain a better picture of what stock they hold currently and what they will need in future. Although many are used to interrogating their data to anticipate demand and make accurate forecasts, AI is taking the game to new heights by helping them to better prepare for unexpected events and predict and prevent potential supply chain disruptions. Advanced forecasting and replenishment tools can help react to changes, recalculate new quantities to reorder for stores and warehouses, and adjust the supply systems to keep up with demand.

Supermarkets in particular are turning to AI models to help keep store shelves stocked. Companies such as Walmart have been trialing robots that scan aisles for missing products. And in its Walmart Neighborhood Market store in Levittown, New York, the company is exploring the possibilities of AI and using real-time information to help store associates know more precisely when to restock products, so that items are available on shelves when they’re needed.

“Customers can be confident about products being there, about the freshness of produce and meat,” Mike Hanrahan, CEO of Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab, said in a press release. “Those are the types of things that AI can really help with.”

Technology to overcome challenges

Retailers need to be able to offer rich and convenient customer experiences, and both AI and AR are very quickly opening up new possibilities that could transform retail, making it more adaptable to diverse situations.

In the not too distant future, AI and AR could help to make retail experiences even more personalized, unique, collaborative and social. Without moving from their sofa, customers may be automatically sent a selection of outfits and beauty products curated just for them in anticipation of an upcoming family party. They will simply scroll through the selection, try everything on virtually, mark down what they want to purchase, and wait for everything to arrive well in time for the big event – no hassle, ultimate convenience.   Contact us for Retail ERP Software demo or write us at info@tridentinfo.com