By Bob Johns
The world of retail is rapidly moving to become channel agnostic with omni-channel retailing. This can only be accomplished with the proper solutions in place, though. This is why Toshiba created TCxGravity, a transformational POS solution for the omni-channel retailer. “POS needs to become point-of-commerce, more of a portal for full commerce capability, real time, and at the hands of the associates to better serve the consumers,” says Fredrik Carlegren, Business Unit Executive for Toshiba.
Associates need to be able to better provide cross-channel services. “For true omni-channel retailing, POS needs to be a seamless extension of the retailer’s enterprise commerce platform, not a siloed store application requiring extensive back-end integration,” says Carlegren. “For example, no matter how or where a customer makes a purchase, they should be able to return it to the store of their choice in a manner that is easy, accurate and transparent for both consumers and associates.” The associate can look up entire order history, regardless of channel, identify the product, the price paid including discounts, and ensure the return process is timely and accurate.
“From an architecture perspective, this is a browser-based application which makes it nearly completely device agnostic – and that translates into tremendous flexibility,” Carlegren says. TCxGravity can be run on fixed or mobile POS devices including tablets, smartphones or kiosks, enabling associates to interact with a single common application across devices. IT resources are scarce and expensive; this is why TCxGravity is designed to be centrally deployed and managed as a thin-store technology, meaning it does not require the store to have a separate server running in the back office to operate – although this is an option for retailers that require an offline operating mode. The objective is to optimize IT resources to focus on business-critical requirements and allow retailer’s to be much more agile with how they use technology to run their business.
From the customer’s perspective, they want valuable, seamless brand interactions across all touchpoints. “Consumers crave that interactive experience, and making that experience valuable is key,” says Carlegren. “In omni-channel retailing, TCxGravity allows retailers to offer tailored promotions, discounts, or services particular to the individual customer, driving loyalty and recurring business.” The key to this is customer and inventory data. By having a platform designed to work with real-time data enterprise-wide, these promotions can be designed based on browsing history, purchase history (no matter what channel), location, and return history. Using this data, a sports store won’t send a golf promotion to someone who only buys baseball gear and apparel. Now if that same store is closing out its baseball stock to bring in winter sports gear, this customer would probably love to know about the clearance sale. Making content more valuable creates more brand value and creates loyalty, the Holy Grail for all retailers.
Getting the associate out on the floor with the customer boosts the brand experience, but the way they add value to the experience is by having the right systems in place to make the interaction personal and tailored for each customer. With mobility and personalization, retailers have a great opportunity to build a customer for life. “At the end of the day, it comes down to being able to provide the best possible service to each of your customers in a way that is consistent across your brand, and doing so in a differentiated and sustainable way,” Carlegren concludes.