From tills to tablet - enabling multichannel retailing

15 October 2012 -

How a new generation of cloud-based software is helping smaller retailers become more competitive.

Written By: Richard Goodley, Managing Director of Davidson Richards

Today's consumers have made life much harder for a retailer to offer just a bricks and mortar shopping experience. They look for a mix of online retailing, hard copy catalogues and e-catalogues, online shopping, coupon promotions they can redeem on line and in the store, and loyalty schemes that they can join - all this is now necessary to hold the consumer's attention and provide sales and footfall in stores.

For the larger retailer with the bigger budget and inbuilt resources, it is just a question of deciding how many offers there are this week, or what today's voucher is, but for small and mid-sized retailers with stock they need to sell and a clientele to serve, they sometimes feel that the requirements for their particular business are too individual, the implementation too complex and the cost of offering wider multichannel promotion is too prohibitive.

And in adapting sales promotions to this new competitive environment, they also need to be able to keep control of the cost and profitability of all the transactions and ensure that their pricing is controlled and consistent - not one price in a catalogue and another in the shop. Retailers know that setting up systems to achieve this have usually involved a lot of initial effort and considerable expense. But new developments in cloud technology are changing all this for the smaller retailer.

How sweet to be a retail cloud?

Our experience at Davidson Richards as Microsoft's leading European Retail Management Systems (RMS) development partner, and with an established client base in the medium to smaller retail market, has given us unique insights into the requirements of these retailers. We have used this knowledge coupled with the dramatic developments in cloud delivery to develop our OpSuite solution, a cloud-based retail solution that offers small and mid-sized retailers the chance to remain competitive in this multichannel environment.

The cloud allows retailers to bring all this information - from any or all of their different channels - together in real-time onto a single cloud-based platform. The cloud manages the complexities of the multichannel environment, the retailer is able to offer the same discounts online and instore, loyalty programmes are cross-channel, and the retailer has complete visibility and management of its business and sales operations.

Keeping up with the Millennials

Because it is a cloud-based solution, retailers with one to 100+ outlets can obtain the benefits enjoyed by large retailer outlets at a fraction of the cost - a solution for a 10-site retailer with 10 tills across the estate costs from just over £1k per month. What's more, there is no 'rip out and replace' - the solution can be integrated with existing distribution, finance, e-commerce and ERP solutions meaning reduced capital expenditure.

It's not just the Millennials that want multichannel: the GenXers, Boomers, Seniors and Affluents have all shown an increase in time spent online in 2012 compared to 2011. Clements and Church, an independent and traditional British tailor that sells ready to wear, made to measure and bespoke gentlemen's clothing, is a retailer that has met the needs of the new generations.

The company has four stores in Royal Leamington Spa, Oxford, Birmingham and Solihull and also offers a unique Travelling Tailor service where customers can book an appointment and one of Clements and Church's skilled tailors will come to their selected location. Because they offer a bespoke service, they take appointments by phone and over the web. OpSuite allows the stores the independence and information they need whilst enabling staff to track and monitor the company as a whole, from anywhere at anytime.

Retailers are at a pivotal point in the industry's history. Multichannel is the way forward. Retailers need to embrace this - whether they are traditional or non-traditional, small or large.