Retail POS System Blog

Computer SOS CounterPoint Retail POS Blog


10 Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts You Might Not Have Known Existed

Everyday_Made_Easier

2018-12-10 13:00:00

By: Computer SOS Inc.

Windows key + E = Open file explorer

Windows key + I = Open settings

Windows key + M = Minimize all open windows

Windows key + L = Lock computer

Windows key + P = Open/ choose presentation mode

Shift + Delete = Delete item without putting it in the recycle bin

End = Go to bottom of active window

Ctrl+shift+N = Create new file ( in file explorer window)

Alt+F8 = Show password on sign-in screen

open emoji window = Windows key + . or ;

Can our Electronics be Affected by the Cold?

Everyday_Made_Easier

2018-12-07 00:00:00

By: Computer SOS

There is no doubt that winter weather has officially arrived. Here in Buffalo, that means slick roads, low visibility, and cold temperatures.Technology generally runs better in cooler conditions, but many people will keep electronics such as laptops used for work in their car overnight to avoid forgetting them in the craze of the morning. So what happens to our beloved technology when it is exposed to cold for too long?

Three main components are affected by the cold. First, the battery. After only a couple hours left in the cold, the battery will likely drain completely and be useless until charged.
Second, monitors and screens that are repeatedly exposed to freezing temperatures could likely stop working completely.
And third, when you bring your laptop in from the cold you may notice that there is condensation. This happens when the device quickly warms up and can be particularly dangerous since the condensation isn’t only on the outside. To help this, wait for your device to adjust to the change in temperature and then turn it on. The same applies when going from a warm house to the cold. If you have to use your device outdoors, wait a few minutes for it to adjust to the environment change.
If you do believe your laptop has been affected by the cold be sure to give us a call or pay us a visit.

How to Avoid Catching a Computer Virus

Everyday_Made_Easier

2018-12-04 14:00:00

By: Computer SOS Inc. 

Cold and flu season is officially here. That dreaded time of year that’s full of terrible coughs, sneezes, and trips to the doctor. There are plenty of things we can do to keep ourselves from getting sick such as simply washing our hands frequently with soap and warm water. But what can we do to protect our computers from viruses? At Computer SOS Inc., we do not recommend soap and warm water. 

First, it is important to note the different types of viruses:

  • Worms: These are programs which copy themselves to other computers on a network. They tend to slow things down as they consume more and more bandwidth or computer resources. 
  • Trojans: Performs functions (sometimes malicious) on the computer without the knowledge of the user (Think of the horse of Troy) 
  • Malware: Technically, this is not classed as a virus. It is software used to spy on computer user's activities and collect personal information. More commonly known as "spyware".

Now, Here are 5 tips to help lower the risk of your computer catching a virus.

5) Back-up important data and files to an external drive

In the case your computer does get infected, taking the extra couple minutes to do this makes the event of restoring lost data a breeze. Use a flash drive, a file hosting service such as Dropbox and Google drive, or you can opt to use backup software.

4) Be cautious with links from email

Phishing is the common term for emails that include links to fake websites. These websites can look like your banks’, credit card companies’, or even an eBay or Amazon account. Consumers are then tricked into providing information such as a bank account number or login credentials and at the same time, a virus could be infecting your computer. The best rule to follow is if you didn’t expect to receive any emails, don’t open the link. If you receive an email from your bank for example, and are unsure if it’s legitimate, call customer service and they can surely straighten things out.

3) Keep software up to date

It’s easy to continuously choose the “remind me later” option when notifications prompting a software update come up. Software updates play a crucial part in keeping your computer virus free. These update essentially fill in where there might be security holes. By choosing to hold off on updates you are virtually holding the door open for a virus. Make it a habit to regularly check for updates.

2) Use a pop-up blocker

Pop-ups are windows that come on a computer screen without a user prompting to do so. Pop-ups are generally used as sources for advertisement and do no harm to your computer. Other times, they download harmful viruses which can lead to costly repairs or even identity theft. A common harmful pop-up is ironically one that says you have a virus and should get software to protect your computer. Simply installing an ad blocker such as AdGuard can eliminate pop-ups and help keep your computer secure.

1) Use Antivirus/anti-malware software

Today there are infinite ways a computer can get a virus. While many newer operating systems include antivirus software like Defender for Windows 10, it is important to make sure they are enabled and updates are current. As mentioned above in tip 3, It’s easy to ignore update reminders as they usually come up at what seems like the worst time. Making the point to update can keep your computer virus free, and functioning at its full potential. If you do not have antivirus software included with your operating system, there are plenty you can get for free and do the job just fine. AVAST, Kaspersky, and AVG are three of the top free antivirus software for 2018.

November 30, is Computer Security Day! 5 Tips to Keep Your Information Safe When Shopping Online

-By: Computer SOS Inc.

Everyday_Made_Easier

2018-11-30 09:00:00

Back in the ‘80s, the internet was still in its early stages and computers were not yet common in households. However, computer use was on the rise especially within banks, government, and business. Viruses and hackers have been around since the dawn of modern computing but an increase of high-profile data on computers and servers meant more valuable information for hackers. By the late-’80s, internet and computer security became a top concern. Since that time, every November 30, has been dedicated Computer Security Day with the intention to educate the public on staying safe on the web.

This time of year, holiday shopping is in full swing with many opting to shop online. In light of Computer Security Day, here are five tips to keep in mind while getting those gifts.

5) Don’t use Public Wi-Fi

Although it may be tempting to do some shopping when sitting in a coffee shop or waiting to board your flight, there are significant risks that come with using public Wi-Fi. There are basically two type: secure and unsecure. An unsecure network allows the movement of data across its airwaves without any form of encryption or security protection. Hackers can effortlessly gain access to online bank accounts and login credentials through unsecure networks. Using secure networks can still be risky. Wi-Fi hotspots that are considered to be “secured” require users to input a password that conforms to the WPA or WPA2 standards for security codes. Public Wi-Fi should always be used with caution.

4) Check Bank Statements

After making a purchase online, always check bank and credit card statements for suspicious or fraudulent charges. If you do spot a suspicious charge, notify your bank or card provider immediately. Thankfully, banks and credit card companies absorb the majority of the financial burden when it comes to unauthorized charges.

3) Change your Passwords regularly 

One of the most efficient yet ignored ways to keep yourself safe online is to regularly change your password (every 30-180 days.) A study by the Pew Research Center found that nearly 40% of online adults use the same or a similar password for all their accounts in addition to nearly half of adults admitting to sharing a password with at least one friend or family member. There are a few tips to keep in mind when creating a password.

  • make it at least 12 characters long or better yet, use a phrase or sentence. 
  • Include a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters both upper and lowercase. 
  • Avoid using birthdays, names of children and pets; they are easily to compromise. 

If password memorization is an issue, consider using password manager software such as LastPass, True Key, or keeper.

2) Be wary of rock-bottom prices

Go by the rule “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If you find a new laptop or a designer bag being sold for a ridiculously low price, chances are it’s a scam. Within the past year, there has been an influx of fake shopping apps popping up in Google Play and Apple’s App Store which are hoping to trick consumers into downloading and using their app. Typically, the products being sold are counterfeit or low quality.

1) Trust your Gut

Use your better judgement. Just as most people wouldn’t make a purchase from a store that seems a little off, the same goes for online shopping. If you feel too much personal information is needed to make the transaction, cancel it. Better to lean to the safe side than have your personal information compromised. When using sites like eBay check out the seller and avoid making the purchase if anything seems shady; when in doubt exit out.

Do the Technology Solutions Used by Your Retail Business Affect Your Customers?

By: Computer SOS Inc.

Technology_Solutions

2018-11-21 09:00:00

They certainly do! The technology solutions you use can improve customer experience greatly. From the ability to look up items online to a smooth and speedy checkout, the technology you use can mean the difference between a bad and an enjoyable shopping experience for your customers.

The days of customers spending endless time browsing have come and gone, most customers have done their research online, know what they’re looking for, and want to be in and out as quickly as possible. This has triggered a boom in technology solutions that put the consumer in control, including online and mobile shopping with delivery options and instore pickup. Technology solutions such as these enable customers to shop the way they want, anytime, and anywhere. Your customers can place their order before they reach the store, change their order and pay without having to waiting in line. This caters to your online customer’s needs while allowing your staff to spend more time with instore customers making a better customer experience for everyone.

The shopping experience is everything to today’s consumer, and the technology you use plays an integral part in delivering the ultimate shopping experience. Today’s tech savvy shoppers are passionate about using the technology they have at their fingertips and are driving the digital transformation of the retail industry. We’ve all seen what happens to retail businesses that come late to the game, staying competitive means staying current with the technology available to your retail business.

Customer loyalty is a top priority for all retail businesses, and technology is the force behind enabling your consumers to personalize their experiences and interactions and keeping them coming back for more.

Our retail technology solutions don’t just benefit your customers, they are designed to provide you with the most advanced omni-channel retail solution to streamline your retail business operations, increase profitability and staff efficiency. Browse the site to see how NCR CounterPoint SQL, P.O.S. Anywhere and CP-Commerce can provide you with the instore, mobile and online solutions to keep you competitive in today’s ever changing retail market.

NCR Banking Info Changing

From: The Counterpoint Collections Team

NCR_Support_Alerts

2018-11-13 08:00:00

This is to notify you that charges coming from NCR will no longer show as Radiant systems, and will now appear as NCR Receivables LLC. In addition, the ACH Company ID will no longer be 8112749765 and will now be 5112749765.

Please notify your bank of these changes, so that the charges are processed appropriately.

If you have any questions, please contact CollectionsTeam.Counterpoint@ncr.com. Thank you for your continued business and support of NCR.

Best,
The Counterpoint Collections Team

CounterPoint Release Notification

8.5.6 Release Date

From: The CounterPoint Team

Counterpoint

2018-11-09 15:03:00

Counterpoint version 8.5.6. is still in controlled deployment, with no official release date scheduled as of yet. The controlled deployment is going well, but we want to ensure that we've gained adequate feedback and addressed all key issues before the general release.

We will send out another announcement when the general release date is finalized. Thank you for your patience and continued support of the NCR Counterpoint product.

NCR Announces Counterpoint V8.5.5 Release

Counterpoint

2018-10-29 10:54:00

Great News! NCR Counterpoint Version 8.5.5 has been released! You can download the latest version from the Support area of our Web site on the Software Downloads page.
On the Software Documentation page, you can also view the Release Notes for NCR Counterpoint Version 8.5.5 to see all of the new features that are included in this version of NCR Counterpoint.
The following corrections are available in the NCR Counterpoint Release Image and the Service Pack file CPSP85.EXE.ZIP on the NCR Web site at www.counterpointpos.com. On all systems, you need to install the service pack at the Server and Always Offline Workstations only. Each Non-Offline and Sometimes Offline Workstation is automatically updated the next time it runs NCR Counterpoint.

NCR Unveils the Next Generation of its Counterpoint Channel Software Solution

Counterpoint

2017-05-22 12:00:00

Omni-channel solution leader launches new version of its proven, all-in-one retail software

Duluth, Ga., May 22, 2017 – NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR), the global leader in omni-channel solutions, today announced a new version of its proven Counterpoint specialty retail management software. NCR Counterpoint is specifically targeted for mid-sized specialty retailers in North America and offers an updated user interface that adds usability improvements along with a modern look and feel, creating a whole new experience that enables businesses to perform.

NCR Counterpoint includes robust point-of sale (POS), inventory management software, built-in customer loyalty, automated purchasing and configurable reporting capabilities. It is built with the specialty retailer in mind, with an open architecture that allows for customizations, mobile and marketing solutions, and real time data at their fingertips. The new user interface adds additional flexibility for the business owner as its easy navigation and customization capabilities help make business operations more efficient.

“NCR Counterpoint has deep roots in specialty retail and is built for the industry,” said Ron Allnock, channel global sales leader for NCR Retail Solutions. “With our open architecture and innovative partner channel, NCR Counterpoint helps drive efficiency for many operational aspects of running a business so retailers can focus on what really matters: providing memorable and enjoyable experiences for shoppers.”

While retailers focus on providing the best service to their customers, NCR Counterpoint works behind the scenes to help create a smooth experience from inventory management to front-of-house. This technology is a trusted investment backed by a dedicated business partner channel in North America.

News Media Contacts
Ortrud Wenzel
NCR Public Relations

Support Alert - Merchants not receiving settlement emails after NCR Secure move to AWS
From: NCR CounterPoint Support

NCR_Support_Alerts

2018-10-18 14:17:00

We have had reports from partners that since the move of NCR Secure Pay to AWS datacenter that some merchants are no longer receiving their settlement emails. We checked with the DevOps team and got the below information.

With the move to AWS, we have also changed the service we use to send scheduled settlement emails to Mailgun. Please use the information below to whitelist the email senders. The from address will now look like this:

monetraprd1aws=noreply-ncrsecurepay.com@ncrsecurepay.com; on behalf of; NCR Secure Pay <monetraprd1aws@noreply-ncrsecurepay.com>

The headers will look like this:

Sender: monetraprd1aws=noreply-ncrsecurepay.com@ncrsecurepay.com
Received: from usprdmonetra01.usnsp.local (ec2-35-175-56-245.compute-1.amazonaws.com [35.175.56.245])
by mxa.mailgun.org with ESMTP id 5bc5eefd.7f75fc504eb0-smtp-out-n03;
Tue, 16 Oct 2018 14:00:29 -0000 (UTC)
Received: from noreply-ncrsecurepay.com (ip6-localhost [IPv6:::1])
by usprdmonetra01.usnsp.local (Postfix) with ESMTP id 772A57F1C8
for <xxxxxxx@xxx.com>; Tue, 16 Oct 2018 10:00:29 -0400 (EDT)

Note that the numeric portion of the “monetraprd1” and “monetra01” values above can vary from 1 to 4.

NCR CounterPoint Support

Transforming brick and mortar with omni-channel
By : Nora Chisnell

Everyday_Made_Easier

2016-06-08 09:00:00

As consumers, we’ve come to rely on moving seamlessly between online and physical transactions. No matter how you prefer to bank, shop or dine, omni-channel technology helps brick-and-mortar businesses integrate ecommerce with their in-store systems.

Both the store and consumer benefit from creating a richer experience by automating or enabling self-service for lower-value transactions.


Banking

With more transactions moving online or to ATM/ITMs, bankers are able to build relationships and engage in higher-value consultation with customers. Online and mobile banking has eclipsed branch transactions in much of the world, according to the Fed.

Focusing on how to provide the best solutions to achieve the right strategic mix of personal, assisted and self-service offerings improves the customer experience, reduces costs and generates new revenue streams.


Retail

As retailers move toward customer experience retailing, we see them investing in technology that enables a consistent customer experience across all channels, including inside traditional stores. With this evolution, physical stores reinvent themselves to include common digital shopping features, such as customized promotions, flexible fulfillment choices and simple paths-to-purchase.

And, with a unified view of their customers and inventory across all channels, they can offer personalized shopping experiences and cross-channel fulfillment options, such as order online then pickup in store, or shop in-store and ship to home.

So, while mobile and online shopping will continue to grow, retail stores will remain the hub of the shopping experience – they’re just getting a whole lot better.


Hospitality and travel

Mobile guest engagement is fast becoming an expectation by consumers, especially where convenience and unified brand experiences are highly valued. In fact, it is the next big step in creating a larger, omni-channel experience.

Operators are looking more aggressively to meet the expectations of their guests – enabling them to engage wherever they are, whenever they choose. Brands are looking to provide loyalty programs, ordering capabilities, payment flexibility, and personalized offers for their guests and do so in a way that is consistent across the channels that each guest prefers.

A unified mobile experience can empower operators to drive interactions, convenience, sales and repeat business – as well as increase guest satisfaction. In restaurants, it’s ultimately the seamless experience that will encourage loyal customers to come back more frequently and spend more when they do.

Just as we thought all transactions were headed to the cloud, eliminating the need for brick-and-mortar, many ecommerce brands like Warby Parker, Google and Amazon are now bringing their wares to physical storefronts—permanent and pop-up—reinforcing the benefit of an omni-commerce approach. (CNBC)


Nora Chisnell
Ambassador Program Manager

Shedding Light on Mobile Shopping – Part 3
By : Donna Stevens, Solution Director, Retail Store Transformation

Mobile

2018-09-18 08:00:00

This is the third post in a blog series exploring some of the things retailers should consider when it comes to Mobile Shopping.

As mentioned in our first post in this series, there are three key pillars to evaluate when incorporating mobile shopping with in-aisle self-scanning technologies into your enterprise:

  • Strategy
  • Technology
  • Operations

Once you have planned your short-, mid- and longer-term strategies for in-aisle mobile shopping, you can turn your attention to identifying the solution technologies and, where applicable, the solution partners to help you realize your vision. In parallel to implementing the solution, many aspects of store operations must be considered in moving from pilot to full-scale implementation.

The following checklist of questions and suggestions help support success from an operational perspective:

  • Launching the app: Will you use the customer smartphone, a store-provided handheld scanner (such as the Zebra MC18), or both? Do you have the ability to use GPS to auto-launch the application when the shopper enters the store? Making it as easy as possible to launch and navigate the mobile shopping app will reduce frustration and encourage higher adoption. With handheld scanners, scanning a loyalty card (if the consumer has one) can release the device while supporting personalized promotions but enabling anonymous release without loyalty also gives you the chance to provide additional incentives to join the loyalty program after the consumer has a positive self scanning experience.

  • Linkage to loyalty: Speaking of loyalty, if you have a loyalty program and incorporate the customer card or ID in the mobile shopping experience, your shoppers unique item preferences and pricing will be available as they scan throughout the store. No loyalty program? No problem. Mobile shopping apps can be used without them.

  • Adoption: How do you educate the shoppers in how to use the technology? How do you direct the right basket size and consumer type to mobile shopping versus other methods of itemization and checkout? Retailers need to shorten that learning curve to operationalize. This is often done by a store associate/greeter who shows first time users how to use the app, or at the end of the trip, where to finalize. Communicating to consumers the extra benefits and even providing special incentives for first-time use is instrumental because the tendency is for consumers to stick with the shopping methodologies and habits they know. Disrupting their normal behavior can only be accomplished if they are both aware and motivated to use the new solution.

  • Security: How do you reduce shrinkage and protect your store from intentional theft in-aisle (e.g. scanning a different, cheaper barcode, or nesting items)? At the same time, you want your customers to feel trusted. What’s the difference between partial audit and full audit – and how do you enable associates to monitor without impeding the shopper’s convenience and undermining the benefits of self-service? How do you keep the honest person honest and encourage them to follow the right processes to avoid failing a partial audit? What if a shopper fails the audit – what is the right associate behavior to implement without alienating the customer? As a retailer, how do you know which items are mis-scanned, or stolen, and how do you control that?

  • Bagging: If your customers forget to bring their own bags, will you provide an easy way for the shopper to pick up a bag along the way or at finalization? Will you charge for extra bags?

  • Payment: How do I direct customers to pay for their mobile shopping? What payment types can you accept? What about exception items, card or account issues, split tenders and other payment nuances that can’t be handled on a mobile device? It’s important to think about how consumers will finalize their shopping journey and provide them with a fast, convenient, payment flow and zone to ensure any exceptions are handled gracefully and with respect to the consumer’s privacy and comfort.

  • Store Associate training: What type of associate is best to assign as an attendant for mobile shopping and what will their tasks be? How do you motivate associates to encourage adoption of mobile shopping? How do you need to train associates to help in shopper greeting/introduction of the new format? What should associates say (and not say) when it comes to the audit for loss prevention? Associates require appropriate training on both the technology and the processes to ensure a good customer experience. 


In summary, in-aisle mobile shopping is a tremendous new way for consumers to easily and conveniently shop but it’s critical for retailers to think beyond the solution and technology and recognize that self-service in any form is a change to their store operations and to the job activities of their associates. Successful return on investment of this type of technology comes with great consumer adoption – and consumer adoption relies on awareness, understanding and incentives. Read more about mobile shopping and other solutions for creating superior in-store shopping and checkout experiences by downloading our free eBook.

Continuing our Education: Talking Analytics at Georgia Tech
By : Tom Chittenden, Vice President and General Manager – NCR Retail Solutions

Retail

2018-09-05 12:00:00

With NCR global headquarters being based in Midtown Atlanta, we are fortunate to be down the street from one of the country’s foremost technology- and science-focused universities, the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Fortunate because it gives us great opportunities for collaboration and shared learning – not just with the school itself, but with the Atlanta business community which includes leading brands such as Coca-Cola, Delta, UPS, and more.

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion alongside speakers from another iconic Atlanta brand, Home Depot, as well as professors from the Georgia Tech Business Analytics Center (BAC) at their annual forum.

The agenda was built around the premise that, as the lines between channels in the retail world continue to fade, successful companies will be the ones with the ability to leverage data-driven insights and take action on (not simply report) analytics to drive next-level performance for their business. This includes everything from delivering unbroken omnichannel consumer engagement, to synchronizing product and service delivery, to making better decisions across the supply chain.

What we discussed during our session were the different ways data-driven decisions lead to less friction throughout the enterprise – for consumers and for the business. While the Internet of Things is quickly connecting the dots between the devices we use every day, what it’s really enabling is the “Internet of Consumer Experiences,” a way of seamlessly blending highly personalized communications and interactions with brands throughout our daily lives. This is enabled by the vast amounts of data consumers trade for services – more than 590 million transactions occur each day from edge devices, providing insights about consumers, their preferences, and buying behaviors.

This information impacts every part of the business. For example, Dr. Manpreet Hora, who teaches Operations Management at Georgia Tech, illustrated how the perception of supply chain and merchandise management functions within an enterprise is changing: With the cost- and inventory-optimization businesses are able to achieve by utilizing data, these functions are no longer seen as cost centers, but rather value centers. Similarly, our keynote speaker, Richard McPhail of Home Depot, shared how his organization uses highly sophisticated labor models and can execute activity-based forecasting to enhance store operations and shopper experiences in their stores.

It was an extremely valuable and thought-provoking discussion, full of the kinds of questions and challenges to traditional views of retailing that we need to explore given a rapidly shifting industry landscape. I look forward to our continued partnership with Georgia Tech and idea-sharing with members of our business community from whom we can gather multi-dimensional, real-world learnings. To learn more about the different ways you can take the friction out of your retail enterprise, get our free eBook or visit our microsite.

Shedding Light On Mobile Shopping - Part 2
By : Donna Stevens, Solution Director, Retail Store Transformation

Mobile

2018-08-23 12:42:00

This is the second post in a blog series exploring some of the things retailers should consider when it comes to Mobile Shopping.

As mentioned in our first post in this series, there are three key pillars or components to evaluate when incorporating self-scanning technologies into your enterprise:

  • Strategy
  • Technology
  • Operations

Once you have determined your strategy for in-aisle mobile shopping, you can turn your attention to identifying the technologies and, where applicable, the partners to help you realize your vision.

ROI
This is likely the biggest question on your mind: how long until I see a return on my technology investment?

Projected returns from the technologies you choose during different phases, from initial pilot to expanded adoption, help you set benchmarks and expectations against which you can adjust over time.

Data from your enterprise, such as average checkout times, average basket size, and labor allocation patterns enable you to make predictions or estimated calculations about where and to what extent you’ll be able to achieve returns. Because in-aisle scan, bag and go shopping easily accommodates larger, weekly shopping basket sizes – even a 1% increase in throughput will have a big impact on your bottom line.

The lure of increased revenue resulting from consumers maximizing their available budget during the shopping journey as well as capitalizing on promotions delivered during their shopping selection is another big driver of in-aisle mobile shopping adoption. Many retailers we work with find measurable returns on both the cost savings and revenue uptick buckets with mobile shopping.

Build or Buy?
Are you considering building your own homegrown mobile shopping app or partnering with a technology vendor?

If you are developing your solution in-house, do you have the support and ecosystem (hardware, software, and services) needed to a) create seamless experiences for your customers; b) scale as your enterprise grows; and c) easily make updates and upgrades?

It may seem easier or less expensive to cobble together your own solution from a variety of vendors – or simply expand your existing retailer branded app with in-aisle scanning capability. But you should also be aware of the potential hidden costs of integration, and the complexities of incorporating a smooth customer journey with appropriate controls for exceptions and security (which can sometimes outweigh the initial cost savings).

Software
There are multiple shopping apps out there so it’s important to consider whether they meet your requirements.

How does the app launch – with or without a loyalty card? You’ll want your shoppers to buy from their grocery list while not limiting their in-store impulse buys – an important part of increasing sales typically found when browsing the aisles.

Your software should also capitalize on your brand with targeted promotions and images. Next, what happens when you scan the item barcode: Can you offer suggestions at point-of-decision in real-time? The application should also be able to flag age restricted items such as tobacco and alcohol, as well as non-barcoded produce items.

The shopper intervention is equally important, and your associates must be properly trained to perform a partial audit or validation check on the shopper’s bagged items without causing undue stress.

Finally, where does the shopper finalize and pay for the basket? We recommend the self-checkout, where dedicated help and a familiar environment and protocol for assistance is available.

Hardware
When it’s time to select the hardware for mobile shopping, your choices are using purpose-built handheld store scanners, the shopper smart phone, or a combination of the two.

Smart phones have the advantage of convenience and help to extend your reach beyond the store throughout the buying cycle. However, these require the shopper to download the shopping app and some shoppers just don’t want to use their own device.

If you’re considering introducing purpose-built devices in your stores, ergonomics, ruggedness and battery life are a few key characteristics to compare. And since high-powered scanners designed to recognized hard-to-read barcodes have advantages over phone cameras, we’ve found mobile shopping adoption to be higher with in-store handheld scanners.

Network and Data
Running mobile shopping applications require always-on internet connection in the store in order to connect to the item catalog and pricing data in real-time.

Will shoppers have consistent connectivity to Wi-Fi in your stores, and is your network set up to ensure crash recovery for your critical transaction data? You’ll want to be sure you have adequate data storage, and the capability to report and create actionable insights from that data – from the enterprise level down to the store and item level.

Measuring the effectiveness of the solution is important, but it’s equally important to make data-driven adjustments to security protocols, item information, associate training and consumer communications to ensure an optimized return on investment of the solution.

Through custom consultations, our team helps retailers around the world analyze different aspects of their stores and their business to customize the best solution based on these considerations.

In our final post in this series, we’ll delve into the operational aspect of mobile shopping, and discuss putting a mobile shopping plan into action in a way that works for your enterprise. To find out what other capabilities could help enhance your business, take this quick frictionless shopping quiz – learn where it makes the most sense to invest for your unique brand.

Turning transactions into conversations: A chat with Retail Leader
By : Tom Chittenden, Vice President and General Manager – NCR Retail Solutions

Retail

2018-08-20 20:00:00

Recently, Retail Leader editor-in-chief Mike Troy visited NCR’s global headquarters offices in Atlanta and sat down with me and Dirk Izzo, SVP of our Industry Solutions Group, to talk about the concept of reinvention. It’s a popular buzz word in retail these days and can mean many things depending on the context, but our talk track kept going back to how reinvention relates to the changing interactions between brands and consumers. That is really the crux of the sea change we’re witnessing in the industry – the rapid shift from a relationship that has historically been transactional into one that is conversational and enables meaningful engagement.

This is especially important as retailers work toward the responsiveness and flexibility that consumers increasingly demand to earn share of wallet and loyalty. The conversational relationship with consumers can encompass a broad spectrum of areas and take on many forms. A few examples might include:

  • Intelligent, data-driven offers, promotions, discounts, and recommendations
  • Proximity marketing that influences buying behaviors – in relevant and meaningful ways – at the point of decision
  • AI-enabled self-service capabilities that “learn” over time to make the in-store shopping and checkout process smoother and faster
  • Consistent buy-anywhere, fulfill-anywhere options that accommodate consumer behaviors and preferences while maintaining a seamless experience with the brand
  • Timely and useful digital touchpoints that maintain dialog throughout the entire buying cycle, from list creation, to payment, receipt and coupon management
  • Non-sales oriented messaging (recipes from a supermarket brand, seasonal style previews from a clothing brand, etc.) that add value while fostering ongoing communication


During our discussion with Mike, we talked about what it will take to have these conversations in the future, as the world becomes more and more “phygital” – blurring the lines between physical and digital realms – and as the roles of various shopping channels grow and change. No matter what the “Next Big Thing” is (and there will always be a “Next Big Thing”), NCR is a company with a history spanning more than 130 years, and evolution is part of our heritage. To see examples of how we’re continuously helping retailers foster these conversations and relationships with consumers in ways that organically fit into their lives, visit us here: https://www.ncr.com/frictionless-checkout.

Shedding Light on Mobile Shopping
By : Donna Stevens, Solution Director, Retail Store Transformation

Mobile

2018-08-14 08:00:00

AmazonGo opens its second cashierless store in Seattle. Kroger launches self-scanning pilots, with plans to expand to 400 stores by the end of 2018. Sam’s Club Scan & Go transactions have doubled this year. Today’s retail headlines speak volumes: In-store mobile shopping is here to stay, and growing, as mobile-first customers look for new and better ways to shop. And with mobile phone growth outpacing laptops nationwide, is it any wonder?

Online mobile shopping is not new, of course. Many grocery retailers have developed e-commerce websites that can be accessed from a mobile device (tablet or smartphone). Some have extended this to build their own mobile apps, or subscribe to pre-built mobile apps.

Many of these apps simply replicate the retailer’s ecommerce website, so the shopper experience is comfortingly similar whether they’re sitting with their laptop or shopping on their mobile phone. Shoppers can browse the online catalog, add items to their shopping cart and, eventually (whether in that same session or later that day or week), make the purchase and choose their delivery method.

Of course there are other shopping apps offering everything from advance ordering to delivery scheduling to loyalty rewards programs. To date, most of these mobile apps are used:

  • before the shopping trip (find a store, look at inventory)
  • at the checkout (scan a loyalty card or digital coupon for discounts)
  • after the trip (review the digital receipt)

But what about apps for in-aisle mobile shopping – scanning the bar-code of items real-time, bagging them as they are added into the cart itself and even paying on the mobile device? Not surprisingly, there are many of these, too!

But before jumping feet first into self-scanning technology, it’s critical to determine and define three key pillars:

  • your strategy
  • the right technology (and partners)
  • a realistic operational plan


Here, we outline some key considerations related to the first pillar, strategy, and some learnings based on our experience in this heavily watched space.

First, it’s important to determine whether the strategy is geared to mobile shopping online (e-commerce) or mobile shopping in-store. For those new to this, let’s parse out the differences.

  • Mobile shopping online (e-commerce): Many regional and large retailers already have an e-commerce website and provide mobile shopping online via mobile devices. Customers can browse item catalogs, build and save an online basket, make the purchase and determine whether to fulfill with delivery or pickup at the store. There are technological differences in screen size, ability to pop up product information, scroll through the catalog and watch videos – which web and mobile developers accommodate using responsive design to provide consistent experience across platforms.
  • Mobile shopping in-store: This gives the power of mobile shopping a turbo-boost because now the shopper can see, smell, feel the products while minimizing their time in store. Shoppers scan items in-aisle (using mobile device or store-provided scanner), bag as they go, finalize the purchase and walk out. Sometimes referred to as grab-and-go, this shopping method is ideal for larger basket sizes because it reduces the shopper friction at checkout: no more waiting in long checkout lines, no more unloading/bagging by store associates, and real-time access to their shopping lists and coupons.


It also empowers the retailer, who is able to reach the consumer with promotions right at the point of decision rather than relying on impulse item displays at checkout or aisle signage and endcaps as the sole means of incenting the consumer to take advantage of specials and add to their basket.

Once you’ve decided on an in-store mobile shopping strategy, you can then address the questions of why, when and how.

  • Why is this important for your customers and for your store operations? 
  • When does it make sense from budgetary, technology and operational perspectives?
  • How will you actually make this happen?

Here at NCR, we spend a lot of time helping retailers transform their stores and reduce friction in the shopping journey. There are many paths that retailers can take to offer more flexible checkout options: self-checkout, buy online/pickup in store (BOPIS), mobile shopping in-store. It’s a unique journey that each retailer takes, not a one-size-fits-all solution. After all, change management must be built into the strategy, and that takes commitment as well as investment. Over the years, we have shown how these efforts reap numerous benefits, among them:

  • Increased sales/revenues associated with real-time-budget tracking
  • Add-on purchases driven by point-of-decision promotions
  • A better, smoother customer experience at the front-end
  • Reduced wait times in checkout lines
  • Improved operational efficiency
  • Increased throughput
  • Reduced in labor costs/reallocation of labor to higher-impact tasks, such as service

Be sure to check back for our next post in this series, where we explore the technology component of mobile shopping, and how to demystify the sometimes-overwhelming process of incorporating it into your existing IT ecosystem.

In the meantime, take this quick frictionless shopping quiz to see where you are in the path to store transformation, and explore ways to rethink and reimagine your enterprise.