Posted by: Justine Arthur  |   Comments  No Response

…at the new store opening at Westfield Stratford City…oh and our EPOS in the foreground ;-)

Posted by: Geoffrey Barraclough  |   Comments  No Response

The big theme du jour in retail technology is the convergence of marketing and IT. It’s no secret that the CMO is the CIO’s new best friend and this was spelled out loud and clear at yesterday’s Retail Technology Summit in London.

Aimed at a senior but technical audience, this conference typically features earnest Powerpoint decks crammed with process flow diagrams and enterprise architectures supplemented with top tips on how to make IT “relevant” to the business. Not in 2011. Today, the technologists are talking marketing.

The presentationswere blessed with a variety of titles but pretty much everyone arrived at the same conclusions; that mobile delivers about 10% of web-traffic and so needs to be taken seriously, that mobile makes stores more, not less, relevant to today’s shoppers and that you don’t have to choose between mobile apps and a mobile-optimised website (phew).

These are all marketing questions and it’s clear why IT Directors are asking them. Websites, m-commerce, kiosks and self-checkouts are all software applications used directly by shoppers without the benefit of a user manual. Getting them right is non-trivial and can’t be safely left to marketers when the CIO gets the blame when the customers complain.

But why so little talk about systems, service orientated architecture and cloud computing? Surely a flexible, scalable, robust and… er… agile IT function an essential pre-condition for success? Well, possibly because for many retailers the technology outlook is as uncertain as the economic one. We simply don’t know how shopping behaviour will change and whether real people will be as excited about location based promotions or the ability to check-out on a mobile phone as that nice chap from Google was.

So much, we knew already. To my mind, the conference was long on talk but short on facts and lacked the case studies you’d expect at this level of event. I felt myself drifting in a sea of rather undifferentiated panel debates in which everyone agreed that mobile really was terribly important. That said, a few speakers did stand out.

Top marks to Kiddicare’s CIO, Simon Harrow, for demolishing received wisdom like a JCB on rocket fuel. Another stand out was Caroline Rolfe from Links of London, the only female on the rosta and a marketer to boot, who delighted us with a tale of gnomes, Facebook and a riot in Glasgow. 

 A final mention for Mike McNamara, CIO of Tesco and the man with the biggest desk in UK retail technology. Reversing its policy, the supermarket giant is now in favour of electronic shelf-edge labels (e-ink swung it, he said) and will be resurrecting its RFID project as the readers have got cheaper. Mike also admitted what I had suspected, that the famous “shopping wall” in Korea was an awesome piece of global PR rather than a serious business initiative. You see, CIO’s really are the new marketers.

Posted by: Geoffrey Barraclough  |   Comments  1 Response

We’ve always been a fan of tablet computers and have long thought they could add fantastic value to in-store operations. But when iPads first appeared, we were very sceptical about whether Apple technology was right for our customers.

We have to admit we were wrong. We’ve spent many hours evaluating a range of alternative devices, from HP to Acer. We’re running a pilot at Aurora Fashions and have our clienteling application running on iPads in another major fashion brand. We declare ourselves converted.

Here’s eight reasons why iPads rock in fashion retail!

They help staff serve customers better – staff can photograph customers trying on garments, front and back, so that shoppers can easily see which dress and which colour suits them best, they can look at their own (or a competitor) website and place orders from the fitting room.

They’re great for clienteling – we’ve got a fab iPad clientling application especially designed for fashion but, at a more basic level, we’ve found staff keen to digitise their own “black books.

They help staff and head office communicate better – retailers often email store staff with important information, such as visual merchandising plans. These emails are accessible on the back office PC or at the till. With an iPad, staff can have the right information in their hand, wherever they are in the store. And in colour. We can’t tell you how surprised we are at how many of our customers only have black and white printers in their shops.

Everyone knows how to use one – we don’t underestimate this. People pick up iPads and use them. They don’t ask for the instruction manual or a training course or call the help desk. They just pick them up, turn them on and off they go.

They can double as an EPOS – Store 6, our EPOS software, works great on an iPad and, when the tablet’s not in use, it can dock on top of a cash drawer and double as a fixed till.

They are always on brand – change the wallpaper, add a sleeve and your iPad is immediately reflects your business’s personality.

They don’t run Windows – okay, we all know that there is no Windows device that comes close to the iPad’s usability but we think there’s more than this. Windows = work. Our experience is that people generally only use Windows devices for the purposes they are given them for. In contrast, with iPads people don’t feel constrained by the technology. They experiment, play and come up with use cases nobody had thought of.

They don’t go wrong – it’s early days but we’ve iPad apps deployed at a few retailers and in a number of countries and we’re not getting many service calls. Fingers crossed.

Charleen Benson

Director of Store Consulting

You can find out more about our mobile POS products at:

Posted by: Justine Arthur  |   Comments  No Response

Getting full Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliance remains a headache for many retailers and the cost of non-compliance also seems to be a growing concern.

With many UK retailers struggling to keep their heads above water and others stuck in a seemingly endless sale period, the need to plan and pay for compliance is slipping down the list of priorities.

Now there are also additional pressures as many of the first and some of the second phase Chip and PIN Entry Devices (PEDs) reach end of life.

If PCI DSS is a burden and PED replacement a challenge then combining the two may, on the surface, appear to be a total nonstarter but there may be some merit in taking both challenges head on.

Why, I hear you ask; well not least because not every retail IT team has enough people today to deal with business as usual, so finding two of the team to deal with PCI DSS is a problem before you start.

Then there is the need to continue to keep up to date with the standards and keep on top of the retail estate which is in scope for the PCI DSS.

Defining a cost-effective way to get and retain PCI DSS certification

Over the last couple of years I have been out into the market looking at how to find ways to reduce the PCI DSS burden and over the past six months I have been helping some of our retail customers come to terms with compliance in a number of ways, focussing on cost and ROI as much as ensuring that we find the best solution for their business.

Taking a step back from this process we have some lessons which apply generally to retail and some results which I think will surprise many including:

• Redesigning integration layers to ensure that Point of Sale environments no longer has full Primary Account Number (PAN) stored or used as   a  key to the transaction / customer.

• The same level of information can be derived truncated card data combined with tokenisation or hash values used

• Working with truncated data instead of using full details will satisfy most reporting requirements and analysis

• Moving to a hosted solution may be more cost effective in the short and the long term


And with the anticipated further clarification on emerging technologies (Point to Point Encryption) due in September you may find my new white paper an opener to the ensuing debate that I am sure many retailers are about to reignite within their businesses over the next three to six months.

Kevin Burns is a PCI & Payments Consultant for BT Expedite. For more info on PCI or to download Kevin’s white paper visit our website. You can also contact Kevin online or reach him via 0870 8506880.

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