When Cloud technology clears the path

Retail Insights
In this year’s first issue of CitiXsys Retail Insights 2015, we’ve taken up why the Cloud is the way to go for retailers. Especially for large-scale enterprise retailers, cloud-based applications may as well be the only solution which would enable them to be as flexible, adaptable and infrastructure-minimalist as they aspire to be.

The cover story outlines why and how cloud applications can help retailers to cut down IT infrastructure flab. Also, it Retail Insightstalks about the advantages of integration of every operation and process of an enterprise retail into a single, consolidated suite. And finally, the main value of Cloud in Retail: Mobile POS.

Taking the Mobile POS angle further, another article speaks further on how smartphones, tablets and iPads equipped Cloud-connected retail applications can empower store assistants and traditional POS to a whole new level of performance.

We also take a look at how a retail store might function when it is powered by a Cloud-based Retail Suite and Mobile POS. it would turn normal retail operations on its head, increasing efficiency and decreasing investment by several factors.

This issue takes a whole new look at how retail operations would change, when integrated with new technology, especially Cloud Applications.

The CitiXsys Team wishes our readers a fruitful and fulfilling year ahead.

Mobile POS Coming to Forefront

Mobile POS Coming to Forefront

Globally retail stores are beefing up their sales capabilities ditching the old-fashioned point of sale machines and having salespeople — and even shoppers themselves — ring up sales on smartphones and tablet computers.

Barneys New York, a luxury retailer, this year plans to use iPads or iPod Touch devices for credit and debit card purchases in seven of its nearly two dozen regular-price stores.

Mobile point-of-sale devices are no longer just a tool for specialty retailers or smaller merchants to accept card payments. Increasingly, large U.S. retailers are equipping associates with smartphones and tablets that let them accept customer payments from the sales floor.

Technology has consistently been a major driver in retail but mobile POS devices are transforming the retail industry in aNRF-Blog-images-copy-2 way that few technologies have done before. “Retailers which have eschewed cumbersome cash wraps in favor of a mobilized checkout are already reaping increased savings, sales and customer satisfaction,” said the report, written by Yankee Group analyst Jordan McKee.

Industry experts are of the opinion that year 2014 marked the transformation of Point of sale terminals as they became increasingly mobile and the trend would take Big Box retailers by storm in the coming year

The need of the hour is to look for ways to better understand customers and deliver the right products to the right channel at the right time at the right price. Customer’s reach to more product information along with a myriad of product choices has shifted power to the consumer while resulting in higher customer expectations.

Mobile POS technology helps retailers enhance their customer’s shopping experience, while reducing the costs of providing that enhanced experience. While operational efficiency remains important, retailers are leveraging mobile POS technology to close sales instantly, optimize demand side processes, attract and retain more customers and drive future growth.

To create marketplace advantages in the future, retailers already know their customers intimately, including their needs, wants, preferences, and values and are restructuring their business processes and in-store technologies to ensure customer expectations are fully satisfied.

Mobile POS has a positive impact on revenue as it doesn’t add complexity to the existing retail environment and considerably empowers the store associates.

The new POS technology that extends to mobile devices as applications, employee hand-held, new payment devices, numerous displays and customer facing systems can help fuel loyalty and sales technological com, making the job of a Store Associate more effective without adding technological complexity.

We always hear the old say that “People buy from people” and this is essentially true in context to the retail sector. If your forward workforce is happy and motivated and as a result the interaction with customers is a positive one. For any retail business, this positive experience really does go a long way to reinforcing a positive brand reputation.

Content Management in iVend eCommerce

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Success of an eCommerce platform largely depends on its aesthetics, ease of use and most importantly the content management module. Content is closely tied to all of the processes such as display, order management, inventory, promotions etc. and so content management plays a fundamental role in Internet-based commerce.

The ability to easily update, add to and manage an eCommerce online store is a necessity for a successful and profitableeCommerce_Blog_200x200website. Content management system in iVend eCommerce allows users to not only manage products and orders, but customers, promotions, newsletters and much more. An integrated content management system puts a retailer in direct control of his eCommerce content. Intuitive functionality and modules in iVend eCommerce empowers Retailers’ without extensive programming experience to easily update and modify their portal without unintentionally affecting the overall design of a site. The portal comes with a mobile responsive skin and with the right customization from designers and developers, a user can maintain his webstore without ever writing a line of code.

iVend eCommerce allows administrators to make changes in real time, as a result, retailers have robust B2B or B2C capabilities, with personalization, and content-driven site much more quickly. iVend eCommerce has a content manager that includes the functionality for scheduling content and multi-level administrative privileges for different users, allowing retailer to customize the system based product release calendar and staff roles. User-friendly formatting, with clear fields for Meta summaries and titles in iVend eCommerce, makes it easier to optimize content for search engines.

With options for multilingual sites available, content manager in iVend eCommerce aids in reaching an international audience. iVend eCommerce has a Responsive design making it simple to create sites that users can view on any device irrespective of the screen size they view it on. Content manager in iVend eCommerce systems increases your ability to reach your full customer base with integrated Shipping and Payments.

For more features of iVend eCommerce Content manager and more log on to www.iVend.com or write to us at info@citixsys.com

Perk up Loyalty to drive sales

Perk up Loyalty to drive sales

Loyalty programs are known to increase both the value of customer relationships and revenue for businesses. A recent study by AC Nielsen shows that 60% of consumers consider loyalty programs an important factor in their buying decisions. And customers spend 46% more with brands that deploy loyalty programs on average.

But what makes loyalty programs tick, and how should a retailer choose the program’s value back to the bottom line?

A successful loyalty program is built around powerful rewards and incentives that encourage frequent visits and increased spending.

Increasing visit frequency or repeat footfalls is just one reason customer loyalty matters.

Designing Incentives

Attractive incentives are the main driver for buying behaviors. A good loyalty program helps retail businesses offer custom rewards. Retailers are able to assign point values and create rewards that encourage customers to come back and repeat buy. An effective loyalty program impacts customer behavior by aligning point values with the number of visits. Design rewards to entice members to return to increase revenue.

Mobile Loyalty

With Forrester reporting that mobile will account for 29% of online consumer purchases in 2014—up from 21% last year—it’s now imperative that a loyalty program be mobile too.

What, exactly, does mobile loyalty look like?

A Mobile loyalty program depends on the retailer’s business, his target audience and the kind of relationship retailer is looking to build. But despite all if’s and buts brands are now extending loyalty programs to mobile environments in ways that create new customer interactions and build brand value.

iVend Loyalty portal is distinct way to integrate mobility where customers enroll in a loyalty program, and see reward balances—all on a mobile responsive portal. Remarkably, many retail brands have not yet reached this point, but sooner or later most of the brands will have to: “Customers today expect a program to deliver customization, value, and relevance everywhere, all the time”

Increasing Visit FrequencyPerk_up_Loyalty_350x350

Increasing visit frequency should be the core of every loyalty program. Frequency translates to members visiting more, and increasing their spend over time. Research indicates that loyalty program members not only spend more when they visit, they also visit about 20% more often than non-members.

By designing incentives that entice customers and urge them to shop are one of the most impactful way to motivate customer decisions is to understand what they want, and to stay in touch.

Loyalty programs encourage people to Buy and then repeat the purchase. Customers like to be rewarded for being loyal — especially if the rewards program offers them a significant savings or discount. Incorporating rewards programs that connect to customers’ socially puts additional focus on the business, thereby increasing the potential for new customers.

Recognition is the Buzz-word – Acknowledge the Customer with instant Gratification

More I buy more I feel the need to be rewarded. iVend loyalty programs help in setting up exclusive level definitions for various customer categories like Silver, Gold & Platinum

One of the most valuable aspect of iVend Loyalty is that it instills among retailers the abilities to identify individual customers and to measure and understand their buying patterns. This behavioral trend far outweighs the “currency” value of providing consumers with rewards for shopping at any retail store

The Shopping behavioral intelligence of loyalty program can make retailer use it many innovative ways to tailor new promotional activities with focused and targeted campaigns. A customer loyalty program therefore becomes an ingenious marketing tool that makes a memorable statement about a Retail business.

Leveraging iVend Loyalty makes it possible for retailers to get a clear, unified view of brand interactions across channels whether online, mobile or instore. The integrated Loyalty experience enhances retailer’s ability to offer customers personalized service based on all they know about them—no matter which channel they opt to shop from. Loyalty is the crucial bridge between offline and online. And an integrated loyalty application such as iVend Loyalty that reflects all-channel view of consumer behavior is a big opportunity for retail chain owners to boost sales and increase profitability.

Forecasting: Maximizing Retail Revenues

Forecasting: Maximizing Retail Revenues

Sales forecasting is a crucial part of the financial planning of a retail business, essentially is the process of estimating future business’s sales. A forecast is based on historical sales data and is done for a particular period of a time in the near future, usually the next calendar year. A sales forecast enables a company to make informed business decisions regarding inventory or cash flow or plan for growth.

It is for this reason, forecasting is a central activity in any retail operations. It is a self-assessment tool that uses past and Forecasting Maximizing Retail Revenuescurrent sales statistics to intelligently predict future performance.

Forecasting methods anticipate the future purchasing actions of consumers by evaluating past revenue and consumer behavior over the previous months or year to decipher patterns and develop forecasts for the upcoming months. Data is adjusted for seasonal trends, and then a plan for ordering and stocking products may follow the analysis. After fulfillment of current and forthcoming customer purchases and orders, an assessment of the results is compared with previous forecasts, and the entire procedure is repeated.

Function

Optimization of business decisions in a retail organization largely depends on the ability to forecast demand accurately. The optimization of order quantities, stock levels, or store shipment allocation depends on the aptitude of a retailer to forecast accurately demand at store and/or SKU level.

In retail management, forecasting serves to predict and meet the demands of consumers while controlling pricing and inventory. Holding excess inventory adds to overhead costs for a business whereas under stocking may lead to loss of revenue. Forecasting helps the retailer to meet the demands of the customer by understanding consumer purchase patterns better. It is also known to assist in more efficient use of shelf and display space within the retail establishment, in addition to optimal use of inventory space.

Benefits:

Accurate forecasts that meet the forthcoming consumption demands of customers help retail business owners and management to maximize and extend profits over the long term. Forecasting permits price adjustments to correspond with the current level of consumer spending patterns. Maintaining and controlling a sufficient but moderate inventory that meets the need without being excessive also adds to long-term profits in the retail industry.
Major financial benefits of inbuilt forecasting in iVend Retail include:

  • Return on capital: Inventory is the largest investment in a retail organization. It is therefore important to forecast inventory by an accurate demand prediction that helps generate return on capital. High inventory is a drain on capital for any retail organization.
  • Cash flow: Accurate forecasts are important to keep capital free that is otherwise tied up in excess inventory.
  • Revenues: It has become important to sense customer demands to provide visibility and to market acceptance. Forecasting helps companies to support better revenue management by adjusting sourcing and distribution strategies and avoiding unproductive accumulation of inventory.
  • Earnings: It is seen that good business sense is in adapting to supply chain optimization strategies. Accurate demand helps in precise supply chain decisions. Costly write offs are created If inventory becomes obsolete and that can result in significant disposal costs.

To know more about How retail Forecasting functions in iVend Retail 6.2 write back to us on info@citixsys.com or contact your local CSM.

Merchandize Hierarchy and its relevance in planning

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Every retail organization, regardless of its size, has a merchandise hierarchy for all the goods. A Merchandise Hierarchy is a reporting structure under which sales and inventories of products are tracked and managed.

The function of the merchandise hierarchy is to categorize products and is NOT intended to describe product or classify organizational, 200X200- Merchandize Hierarchy and its relevance in planningproduction or design elements. Merchandise hierarchy can have multiple levels with the highest level providing an overall enterprise view and then narrowing down to families or classes of products, with the total number of levels being determined based on specific business requirements and is the same throughout the enterprise. It provides a common language and consistent codes at each hierarchical level and ensures that merchandise systemically resides in one place and is grouped based on similar form and format and common purpose and use.

With Merchandise Hierarchy in iVend Retail 6.2, users will be able to:

  1. Define multiple Merchandise Hierarchies in the system
  2. Attach more than one Merchandise Hierarchy to individual products.
  3. Top down reporting at all Merchandise Hierarchy levels

Hierarchical classification of products allows companies to customize their data analysis and evaluation, and to address specific needs of individual businesses or the overall enterprise.

A retail organization with well – structured merchandise classification has a fuller view of its products across multiple levels and is able to drill down and analyze data in a variety of ways suitable to their specific business requirements.

A standardized merchandise classification allows similar items across different businesses to be grouped logically. This allows a retailer to view, evaluate and report on data at different aggregate levels and with higher accuracy not only within an individual business, but also across multiple business lines at an overall enterprise level.

By incorporating merchandize hierarchy a retailer benefits through better performance visibility, understanding of consumer demand, and more effective merchandise and sales planning.

The benefits continue down the supply chain and are reflected in better integration with supply chain partners, and improved coordination between retail planning and production, which in turn leads to a reduction in production costs and inventory requirements.

Standardization of the merchandize structure and allocating data ensures data integrity, allowing data governance to be addressed throughout the retail chain at an enterprise level.

Not limited to this, it supports continuous business growth and accommodates moving into other product lines and other industries as the business expands. Through development of common definitions, terminology, nomenclature and structures, an enterprise-wide standardization approach to merchandise classification becomes a key element in driving successful planning, analytical and execution capabilities at a retailer.

Specialty Retailers turn Customer Centric and Profitable with Mobility

The hype-to-reality transition of mobility in retail has been the fastest in the recent times. Ever since Apple started using mobile devices in their stores, which was not too long ago, retailers started taking notice. Today retailers expect the same level of customer experience that one would experience in an Apple store.

Retail Applications like iVend Retail along with retail hardware providers have come a long way in providing complete solutions on mobile devices of different sizes and operating systems.

One of the Forbes reports pegs mobile in retail today to be US $5.7 Billion business and it is the single fastest growing trend.

Mobile POS has a pertinent significance in the context of Specialty Retailers having niche retail businesses like footwear, bookstores, wine & liquor stores, electronic stores, etc.

Retail Real-Estate Optimization, Customer Experience and Faster Business Expansion are some of the critical business drivers for Specialty Retailers. Mobile POS extends to these retailers unprecedented flexibility to effectively address these critical business needs.

Take for example the need for a retailer to open another retail store in an upmarket mall. With mobile POS directly connected to the head office servers, the retailer does not require to setup expensive IT infrastructure in his new retail store. All that is required is a mobile POS, which can also double up as a communication device.

Similarly, flexibility to increase checkout points on the fly is another feature that merits deployment of mobile POS by Specialty Retailers. Customer Experience, Special Attention and Preferential Treatment are some of the cornerstones of a Specialty Retailer And one of the ways a retailer can extend these to the customer is by eliminating the check out time. Mobile POS, given its ‘mobility’ ensures that there is never a queue at the check out point; infact there need not be any check out point – why should a customer walk to a designated area for checking out?

Any retailer would like to pamper his customer and what better way to do so by letting him know through notifications about his gift card status, coupon status and loyalty status by sending out a sophisticated, non-interfering, personal digital pass. All this when the customer is in the vicinity of the retail store.

Seamless integration of iVend Mobile POS with iVend Loyalty and iVend Passes, allows the retailer to extend the most sophisticated end customer experience to his customers.

As a result, specialty retailers are deploying about 45% of all tablets shipped to retail for POS. They are most popular in small independent retailers of all types and large mall-based specialty chains.

To know more about iVend Retail Management Suite and especially iVend Mobile POS, please visit our Knowledge Portal. You may also like to get in touch with our Channel Sales Manager to get more information about iVend Retail.

iVend Retail Summit – 2013

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iVend Retail Summit, 2013 was a resounding success. The partner event which spanned for 3 days had a good mix of sessions covering growth drivers by Kamal Karmakar, CEO CitiXsys Group of Companies and interesting sessions on the new innovations, product trainings, product roadmap for iVend Retail Management Suite and informative sessions on Marketing and Joint Marketing with partners.

iVend Retail Management Suite from CitiXsys has matured from an application to a Retail Platform where the constituent complementary applications of the suite are now available in their individual capacities to be integrated into standard ERP and Accounting applications.

The recent innovations make iVend Retail Management Suite firmly substantiate the organization’s goal of bringing technology innovations to make profitable retailers and happy customers. This was emphatically reflected when CitiXsys announced iVend Passes and iVend Mobile.

iVend Passes is a platform for retailers to deploy Digital Passes on Apple Passbook and Android devices helping retailers stay connected with their customers and enhancing customer experience.

iVend Mobile is a POS on an iOS device or an Android tablet, equally suited for small format retail chains and large format retailers and is used for faster expansion or as a queue buster.

The cornerstone of the sessions was the announcement of CitiXsys Knowledge Portal, which will serve as the central repository of knowledge for all partners, customers and CitiXsys employees to collaborate better. The CitiXsys Knowledge Portal, which immediately got the name CKP was very well appreciated by the partners as the portal aims to provide a single window to address all queries of partners through its comprehensive forums section, knowledge base repository, wikis, marketing collateral, etc.

Breakout sessions on Sales and Consulting were held in parallel. All the sessions whether related to sales or consulting & implementation were extremely interactive and iVend Passeshelped partners not only understand the applications and their positioning better, but also gave them an opportunity to clarify their queries related to consulting.

The consulting & implementation track covered detailed sessions on implementation methodology, product trainings and how can partners effectively utilize the CitiXsys Support Infrastructure to better serve their customers.

The partners also got to understand how CitiXsys can help them better market iVend Retail Management Suite in their respective markets by leveraging the Joint Marketing initiatives of the Marketing Division at CitiXsys.

The session concluded on a “high”, with a commitment to host a similar session early coming year.

How iVend Retail Can Help Footwear Retailers

Fashion Retailers in general and footwear retailers in particular are faced with additional challenges. FootwearFast changing fashion trends, an extremely cost sensitive consumer, stiff competition from departmental store with well-appointed shoe departments; discount shoe stores and outlets, as well as general merchandise discounters such as Wal-Mart, exert additional pressure on the footwear retailer to remain competitive.

Trade regulations aside, retailers heavily rely on imports from Far East at extremely competitive prices. Not only is the logistics of delivery critical, it is equally critical to source the right mix of style, size and color. Ability to collate, analyze and act on consumer buying patterns, sales trends and changes in fashion industry are imperative to succeed in the footwear industry.

A Footwear Retailer is faced with the challenge to:

  • Keep in touch with the fashion industry – ensuring that the stores have the right mix of styles, colors and sizes
  • Periodically run promotions & campaigns to increase footfall and decrease slow moving items
  • Remain closer to the consumer and analyze his buying patterns and sales trends.

Such a balance requires an integrated business management solution that allows flexibility to cater to the diverse & unique demands of Footwear Retailers. A system that seamlessly integrates all business processes from the POS at store to the planners at the Head Office lowering the overall cost of operations, simplifying expansion and enabling the Footwear Retailer maintain his unique proposition and positioning.

iVend Retail – a complete retail management suite offers to footwear retailers ability to address these business and operational challenges. The application suite allows footwear retailers to:

  • Stay connected with business operations

iVend Retail comes as an end-to-end retail management solution for footwear retailers, seamlessly integrating point of sale, in store inventory management, logistics, back office store and head office operations.

iVend Retail has certified integrations to SAP suite of business management solutions and also integrates to other ERPs and accounting applications through its APIs. This failsafe integration with an ERP / accounting application keeps the head office always connected with store operations across the complete retail chain.

  • Inventory control and replenishment planning

Head office operations get complete visibility of stock across the retail chain and can effectively replenish stocks rather than relying on store requisitions. Additionally the merchandising department can raise purchase orders in time to avoid stock out situations.

Store Managers and POS operators can gain complete visibility of stock across stores or at the main warehouse / distribution centers right from the POS interface.

  • Promotions that maximize profitability

Manage targeted promotions in multiple formats by easily analyzing detailed customer trends at individual stores and across the retail chain.

  • Retain customers and manage customer communication

iVendLoyalty allows retailers to define flexible / attractive campaigns, ensuring customer loyalty.

Visit iVend.com to know more about how can iVend Retail Management Suite can help you before more profitable and your customers more engaged.

 

Simplyfying Retail for Electronics & Digital Stores

Apple Store running iVend Retail - banner

Mobility is indeed a buzzword these days and the biggest beneficiary of this boom is the retail industry. Powerful, feature rich Smartphones & tablet devices in the hands of the consumers coupled with much improved Internet technologies are forcing the retailers to adopt mobility in their business environment.

Retailers are today extending brand & product information, ordering capabilities and payment options on mobile platforms to consumers. These mobile platforms are either smartphones or tablet-based devices, which are either consumer owned or employee operated. A recent report shows that over 45% retailers are most likely to adopt mobile platforms to cater to rapidly changing customer expectations.

iVend Retail for IOS iPhone iPad and Android Tabs

iVend POS running on iPad & iPhones

Given the nature of these devices, it is far more likely for an electronics retailer to adopt a mobile platform to increase customer satisfaction and use this as a shopping differentiator. A consumer would use a mobile device for placing an order, looking for ratings, reviews, redeeming coupons, use passport services to store all loyalty points, coupons, gift certificates, etc.

A retailer would use a mobile platform to enhance in-store shopping experience by using mobile devices as line / queue busters, marketing functions like dynamic location based messaging for promotions, advertising, etc.

The possibilities are endless and so are the technological options available to both – the retailer and the end consumer.

It is no longer futuristic for a consumer to walk into a store, select an item, order it online using his mobile phone with an option to collect the item form the same store right there. By using the mobile platform, the consumer will be able to get a better deal online, redeem his loyalty points and gift cards and still walk out of the store with the item, as if it were tendered out at the till in the store.

All these points prompted iShops in Egypt to select iVend Retail – a Complete & Integrated Retail Management System in their stores selling amongst other, Apple products.

iVend Mobile POS - Checkout screen

Retailers in the Electronics Vertical are faced with a unique set of challenges. Hundreds of products in tens of categories, ever changing models and their series including sizes, different types of accessories and all serial controlled make inventory management a herculean task for the retailers to keep pace with the changes and evolution.

Not only this, electronic products are extensively compared for their features and underlying technology before a consumer decides on a particular brand and model. Recording these features with an ability to compare models across a price range is a fundamental expectation from a Retail Solution.

Electronic items are not limited to the ones, which are portable and can be carried away by the customer. These items also include big sized items, which require installation and configurations with custom shipping needs.

iVend Retail Management Suite with its integrated applications allows an electronic retailer to effectively manage these challenges across multiple sales channels – in-store or online. Actually, more so, on the online eCommerce offering that a retailer may have.