Most sales still take place in the physical store.

Web sales continue to rise and whilst the press focus on the growth of E-commerce, it's worth remembering less than 20% of retail sales take place on the web (and even less when you remove ebay). The majority of retail transactions still take place in the store. Predictions of the death of the High Street are somewhat premature, which is why it is so important that retailers continue to reinvent the physical space.

Years ago, when retailers were building their initial web sites, the focus was on recreating the customer journey based on the physical store. The situation has now turned on its head and because the web has developed so much retailers need to try to recreate the online experience in store. Customer expectations are constantly increasing and it's a challenge for retailers to keep up.

Web Kiosks – the problems

For many retailers a solution is to put their website into the store. There are dozens of examples where retailers have done just that – but not very well. We've seen nice shiny kiosks appear in stores that looks great but, in reality, are no more than large screens bolted to the walls. This kind of web kiosk does little to enhance customer experience – and in some cases can even detract from it.

Most issues with these types of kiosks revolve around payments and, for many customers, paying at a web kiosk can be uncomfortable. When the customer comes to pay for goods the kiosk often delivers a customer not present payment page when the customer is actually physically present. Entering personal details into a screen in an open area with passing shoppers could pose numerous problems.  Exposing your card and address details to the world is never ideal and, in a worst case scenario, someone could film the details being entered and use them for their own shopping trip. Security of payment is a big issue and lack of security leads to lack of customer confidence.

The PCI risks are obvious and the kiosk must be secured, but retailers should not be processing a cardholder not present transaction with the cardholder there. In addition, the cost of providing a cardholder not present payment is higher than a secure payment and the fraud risk is transferred to the retailer - so why do it? It is shocking that some retailers invest so much time, cost and energy into becoming PCI compliant and are then happy to trial new solutions without secure payments.

A Simple Solution

A simple and workable solution is to transform your existing transactional website into a mobile POS with all the benefits a mobile POS brings. Use a mobile device to build baskets with the customer either in the traditional manner by selecting items from the web screen, by using the built in camera on the device or using a Bluetooth scanner to scan items around the store.

Having built the basket, you could then take a secure chip and PIN payment giving customers greater confidence and reducing acquiring costs. With the basket completed, you could then provide a receipt either in electronic format or providing a physical receipt from a belt printer or have the option to print to multiple printers using zone printing technology. PMC's Store Enabler allows retailers to do all of this.

By transforming the retail website into a mobile POS you will allow store staff to provide a much enhanced customer experience. They will be able to assist the customer around the store and help them to build their baskets. It will allow baskets to be built from floor stock items as well as giving the ability  to immediately order items that are either out of stock or not stocked in that store. The customer can then pay securely and take their receipts without having to move to a traditional till point to potentially queue again.

From a retailer's perspective, using mobile technology means static tills can be removed to free up valuable selling space. This is particularly important for retail stores with limited selling space.  Providing access to everything you stock online means customers have access to more products – which could lead to increased sales. Out of stocks no longer become an issue. If you work hard with your store staff to provide excellent customer service there is not only the chance to build bigger baskets but also the opportunity to ensure conversion of customers who would otherwise want to 'think about it'. All of this will lead to a rapid return on investment.

Future Proof

From an implementation point of view Store Enabler is very different to anything else on the market - it is quick and affordable to implement over weeks rather than months.

Store Enabler protects retailers' investments for the future. The majority of solutions on the market are based around a point solution – vendors typically want to deliver a single integration on standard set of products and peripherals, which means if you ever want to change you will have to re-implement and re-integrate.

Store Enabler has been designed to integrate with multiple devices, peripherals and payments providers. The solution focusses on giving the retailer choice and aims to become "everything agnostic".

Importantly, as more products come onto the market and you want to change - you can do so. The solution gives you the opportunity to use multiple device types, from different vendors, in store to address different business issues. For example, for queue busting you are likely to require a different format device than for assisted sales. Store Enabler integration allows you to use different device configurations simultaneously to address all of your in store business requirements.

All in all, Store Enabler gives retailers the chance to exploit new technology using their existing systems, with the ability to keep up with changing trends, products and peripherals.

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