Off the Shelf provides a platform for Retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods companies to discuss and gain insights on the pressing problems, trends and solutions.

October 7, 2014

Retailer's CRM through Gift Card

Have you heard of companies such as Blackhawk network Or Itz Cash card ? What do they do ? Well they are into gift card for large retailers.

Last minute gifting is nightmare....Not with digital gift cards .

Gift card industry is getting popular with expansion of customer base  . It is a CRM widget, to enhance customer's connect and share shopping experiences with near and dear . CRM involves analyze the customer data & leverage the refined information back to enhance customer's experiences in Sales/Promotions , Marketing and Customer Support/Service.

The trend of gift is gaining ground amidst both large and small corporate houses. Why ?

•They are able to "Track customer purchases" and hence build analytics on buying decisions.
•They create a loyalty factor with clients and employees in the long run.

The value of the Indian gift card industry is pegged at Rs 9,000 crore.

....Gift Card , what is that .?

Gift card has a unique card number ( generated random ), does not need any activation or monthly fee , may / may not have an expiration date.A gift card can be virtual, sent to customers via email ( with advantage of no loss ) Or a physical plastic card, which customers can use at a POS or online. Customer can add initial amount , redeem and later add balance. Few cards continue to be used with top up , while some are one time cards where balance add on is not allowed.

 New Gift Card request transactions stem from any of these sources :
• Website of the retailer
• Store POS
• Customer Care IVRS Unit

Further analytics and Big data can help understand buying patterns . For this , customer data warehouse stores order-history and a record of all activities performed on the gift card. Analytics helps predicting customer preference trends  & sales-forecasting . All is comes under CRM. In essence retailer would take the feedback & personalize shopping experience of the customer based on buying habits. Purging of data is also required as there may be un-used , expired entries of cards that would make databases bulky. As per stats :  In 2012, over $100 Billion in gift cards will be purchased in the US, where over 20% of those gift cards went unredeemed or unused .

Customers may want to see real time settlement of the balances while retailer systems do this re-conciliation through jobs that run only in midnight. Sometimes , retailer sites allow customer to buy value above their balance and this threshold ( eg : 25 cents on $ 100 balance ) is again part of CRM. This implies customers are allowed to purchase upto $ 100.25. Who pays 25 cents ? This is at the cost of store from where the purchase is being made.

Ever wondered , If the retailer goes bankrupt what happens to the gift cards ? Well , they do not hold any value ( these are treated as unsecured loans ).

The approaching festive season brings lucrative opportunities for gifting across the world. Combination of Gift Card ( that too personalized ) can be an effective CRM.

August 28, 2014

From Multi channel to Omni channel - Background Orchestration

In the retail arena, terms Multichannel & Omni channel are often used interchangeably however, their is a stark difference in actuality. Simply put, Multichannel implementation completed to perfection is Omni channel.  It enables customers to have a holistic brand experience without toggling between the channels. A major pain point for the ecommerce industry is the mismatch which occurs in their varied customer touch points leading to diminished user experience. 


Corporates are continuously juggling their channels of commerce and aligning them to have a better reach and throughput. Over 83% retailers expect to implement Omni channel strategy by October'2015.

If we look at the unification process closely, there are a range of activities that go into Omni channel enablement. This blog attempts at viewing the background approach that goes into it:

Cross channel integration
Retail selling channels web, Mobile, store need to be inegrated at the backend to present a complete picture. The integration needs to happen at various levels:

  • Unified Product definition (Catalogs) across the channels: Retailers still hold legacy systems maintaining separate item information for store items and online items. In their endeavor towards being Omni channel enterprises, Retailers need to unify these systems to bring about uniform product attributes. 
  • Taxonomy definition needs to be uniform.
  • Channel specific information pricing differences, product availability on the particular channel needs to be in retained in the systems. 
  • Continuous updation of product modifications need to flow in the channel specific repositories.

E-commerce re-platforming
Retailers spend exorbitant time and effort in integrating their channels streamlining product data, pricing, promotions, inventory etc. There are best of class platforms available in market today which can replace the existing legacy home-grown platforms like Hybris (SAP), Oracle retail, ATG, etc. Retailers evaluate platforms on various parameters to narrow down on appropriate platforms.

Pricing & Promotion
The key metrics in sales is Pricing. Pricing needs to be streamlined and in sync between channel. Any channel related pricing difference should be retained.

Retailers compete using marketing strategies to lead their peers. Marketing strategies like product bundling, promotional campaigns, BOGO need to be in sync in the product systems utilized by Stores and Web.

Minimizing the data repositories
Legacy systems and custom built ecommerce rollouts lead retailers to building numerous systems catering to different data like vendor systems, bifurcated pricing systems. It is important that the retailers weed out the unnecessary data systems. Ofcourse, the information needs to be retained in unified bases.


Inventory system synchronization
Once the product definition and pricing have been taken care of, the crucial step that remains is the integration of the inventory sources of the channels. The inventory information needs to be updated. Also, competitors are dealing today with flexible fulfillment options or cross channel fulfillments. This makes it mandatory to have integrated data sources.


The above factors will ensure the building steps to Omni channel are complete.

July 11, 2014

Marketing at its Best..!

"Take it sir, this is the best choice in the range you desire, and it's probably the last piece we have."

Recall something..!!

It's the statement that we hear almost every time we go to purchase anything, isn't it?

And how many times we buy that "mystical last piece" which never ends for its next customer? I mean every time a new customer comes, the piece regenerates itself on the shelf.

Probably my comment is sarcastic, but that doesn't mean it isn't reflecting the truth. We all experience it in our day-to-day life. But, one thing that we don't realize is, we are getting habitual of it.

There was time when we use to buy what we desired, but now, it's the era of Marketers. Now marketers sell us what they want. They now have tactics to spell-bound customers in their communication (consider verbal and non-verbal) and drive their perception. 

By hook or by crook, these guys are able to figure out the way to stimulate sales of their products. And that's all they are willing these days. Earlier it used to be just the marketing, now it has come up with verticals like experiential marketing, emotional marketing, Seasonal marketing, online marketing, Direct marketing, indirect marketing and what not. Everywhere it's just the marketing that we see.

Let's take a quick view of our life:

When you wake up, you turn on your FM/TV listen to some good music, and what you get free is, 'advertisement-marketing'.

Then you move on for your walk and everywhere on the roadside you see, is the 'print media-marketing'.

When you walk through the road you may listen to the announcements happening on loudspeakers: 'mass media-marketing'.

Then you go to the bank for your credit card payment, the bank associate will start with his 'consultative-marketing'.

When you go to a store to purchase a nice reasonable shirt with a budget of Rs. 1000, the sales person will try to his maximum strength to drag you to Rs. 2000 or more with the cross and up-marketing.

And when you pay, there will be credit card guys ready with their juices to fill you up. All these examples are not just it.

I have barely mentioned 0.1% of what happens in our daily life.

The brands have realized the importance of focusing their efforts on advertisements and marketing rather than just customer service, probably because they realize which one's easy to attain. Funny, isn't it?

Few of these 'dramatic' brands focus to create a buzz in customers' mind, but don't mind overlooking the quality-delivery. Their focus is selling to more customers, not on more selling to existing customers. So, at last the only sufferer left is the customer, who regrets the purchase throughout the life.

It becomes most annoying with the extremes of Marketing, when they target the audience with their most emotional approaches. They study the audience and find their weak points and attack on the same, similarly like the Guerrilla Warfare with the only difference- in most cases they don't harm you physically but off course monetarily. They have found a name for such tactics- "Guerrilla Marketing". It suits, doesn't it? LOL

Every day we see one or the other campaign through the advertisements which target the customers at their core beliefs. The limit of my patience gets tested when the marketers advertise themselves using their CSR activities. That's the point where the entire noble CSR concept becomes just a 'Marketing Gimmick'. In fact, they seem to be confused with the philanthropy and CSR.

Besides all the facts that I have stated above, it's undeniable that there are companies, and brands which focus more towards customer servicing than 'JUST' marketing and are leading in their product segments with a tag of "Unbeatable".

The concern is, just showing that "we care" is entirely different from doing the "actual care".

Further thinking on the same leaves me to the fact, "this is what a marketer is expected to do". This is their responsibility to run the business and maintain their presence in the customers' mind. But it seems incomplete, their aim is to create business opportunities, maintain existing ones and deliver superior results to the target community. But who's going to explain this to the marketers, there's no industry-specific "Marketing Rule-Book".

PS: I am not just stating the customers' view point nor am I against the marketers. I am just critical about the way few of them do the things.

June 3, 2014

EDI Transforming Business Models

For most of us, EDI is a communication system to exchange formatted data between disparate applications, however it is time to realize that the technology has potential to deliver much beyond than what it was intended to. Since early 20th century commerce had seen industries leveraging the opportunities provided by Express mail and Telefax to grow network. Healthy and far-reached network implies smart way of handling goods and providing services, optimization of cost and labor, efficient processes and customer delight. Business growth, technological advancement, and ever changing customer needs demanded for more swift and complex information exchanging networks.

The growing concern was addressed by UN recommended EDIFACT and ANSI recommended X12 EDI standards that set to establish uniformity in business transactions defined for each industry or operation segment. The principal vision was to establish standardization and integrity of the business documents being exchanged amongst trading partners. However EDI proved to be a state of art technology in many areas starting from finance to processes. Following is an attempt to understand the way EDI has contributed to the evolution of many processes, creation of opportunities, and efficient management of resources in a supply chain.


Continue reading "EDI Transforming Business Models" »

May 12, 2014

Power of Crowdsourcing

Crowd sourcing is a fairly new phenomenon that has shaken the basics of various industries, business models and enterprise decisions. Right from getting inputs to product designs to utilizing pictures from Instagram for running marketing campaigns this practice of leveraging collective intelligence is now becoming  main-stream.

With the success of this practice manifesting in many walks of life, we can take a look at some of the examples to see how well this model has been adapted.

a) Quirky - Adopted Crowd sourcing into their Product Development process and called it Quirky Social Product Development. Individuals submit product ideas which is then curated by the community, reviewed by a product evaluation team before its designed, engineered and mass produced. A percentage of resulting sales from the product is then shared with the person who proposed the product idea. With projected revenue of 54 Million USD by 2014, Quirky is quietly becoming the Mass Market consumer product manufacturer.

b) Wal-Mart: In 2011-12, Wal-Mart started with the Get on the shelf initiative, where it invited public to submit great product ideas and then through a review process and thrown open for voting. Finalists were chosen based on the votes and rating and their products were available online and in stores. Human Kind in 2012 and Elvis Presley Home Bedding Collection in 2013 were chosen as winners (see

c) InstaCart:  Grocery service provider that leverages the power of crowd sourcing to delivery grocery to homes within an hour of order getting placed. Company began operations in San Francisco but has rapidly scaled up to cover cities like Boston, Chicago, NYC and has also expanded partnership with retailers like Whole Foods, Shaw's, Market Basket, Harvest Coop and more. With revenues rising more than 2X times in the last few months, there is a great growth story for the company.

There are numerous other examples of L'oreal, Coach and other fashion retailers seizing this opportunity to put together marketing campaigns and/or product images that borrow on photos and amateur images from social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest.

Real benefits in Crowd Sourcing? Clearly the benefits are not very hard to see

  • For brands that weave in crowd sourced images for product display or marketing the benefit is plain and simple - imaginative, original and authentic
  • Crowd sourcing helps disrupt the existing business model and creates new opportunities for startups.  A classic example is that of Instacart that has successfully launched same hour Delivery for Grocery orders where larger players were struggling with same day deliveries.
  • For companies like Quirky, it is about accelerating innovation and cutting overheads and operating costs associated with typical New product Introductions.
  • For Walmart it's about finding the next Billion dollar of sales by identifying those high potential new products and getting it on the shelf
  • For players like Utest it is unlimited access to an expanded set of skills and sometimes hard to find skillsets.

Problem Areas: While we certainly want to focus on the benefits and the key drivers of this model, there are few problem areas that needs to be addressed as well

  • The first and foremost would be that of Intellectual Property. Who owns the IP in case the idea is transferred from the founder to companies like Quirky or Kickstarter. Can there be non-exclusive license transfer instead of completely transferring the IP rights?
  • How to sufficiently compensate the founders? Is it a onetime lump sum or gain sharing or a commission on sale?
  • How do we ensure quality of product or service? Take the case of Instacart - for some orders if items are not found in a store then those items might not be fulfilled leading to lower customer experience.
  • Lack of Confidentiality
  • Lack of Proper Communication

Key Considerations: Finally for retailers, service providers and manufacturers trying to leverage the power of Crowd Sourcing the following key points needs to be considered to ensure a very effective process and resultant output

  1. A rating mechanism for the participants in Crowd Sourcing to identify their significance of past and present contributions, social influence, originality of design or ideas. Ex: In case of Instacart rating parameters could include order fill rate and on time delivery by personal shopper. Higher the rating, the better the compensation or assignment for future orders.
  2. Search Mechanism (using an extensive algorithm) for systematically sifting through enormous amount of data, photos, videos, ideas and products and also considering the rating to identify those opportunities that aid future growth, address under served  customers or geographies. 
  3. A workflow driven technology platform that will help the collaborative nature of work right from submission of ideas to reviewing, evaluating, allowing public to register vote and eventually identifying the top picks.
  4. A palatable profit sharing mechanism to reward the Founders (of idea) based on the outcome - sales of the product or service.
  5. Re-defining the various roles in the Internal Organization - Product Incubation, Marketing or service teams to adapt to the new model and to deliver creative outputs (campaign, service, product) both from within and outside the organization. 
Clearly these are interesting times for the various participants in this model - be it the contributors/founders of ideas, new age companies that aid to translate these ideas to sellable products or the retailers that borrow upon the end products for final sale. With more funding and with proven case studies on sustainability and success this model will become a huge source of disruption to as-is business models in the coming years. As they say, the collective intelligence of community (local or global) can very easy surpass the intelligence of corporate giants.

April 30, 2014

Empowering the Store Associate

Today's hyper connected digital consumers are modeling their own shopping experience. They are discerning, demanding and have more access to information than ever before. Enabled with mobile and ubiquitous connectivity, they can compare products, access price and product information, check availability, get reviews from friends, whether online or inside the store.  While retailers continue to engage consumers across channels, it has become imperative for retailers to invigorate the in-store experience to meet today's consumer demands and leverage their front line--store associate to effectively impact sales.


Enabling store associates to become brand advocates can go a long way in personalizing consumer engagement in stores and differentiating on service. But the reality is that consumers have access to more information than store associates, adversely impacting their ability to be effective. Also, Omni channel initiatives like ship from store, buy online pick in stores requires retailers to use store employees for a range of new tasks such as picking, packing, while ensuring they continue to deliver superior consumer services.


To address these challenges, retailers can adopt a 3 pronged strategy to unleash the potential of store associates


  • Begin with institutionalizing in-store business processes, to assure consistent experience across product categories, departments and associates with varying skill sets. Secondly, store associates need be given access to critical information like 360 degree Omni channel consumer profile (including preferences, purchase and browse history, wish list, social media interactions etc.,), rich product data (including ratings, reviews, comparison charts etc.,) , new trends, enterprise wide product availability to be able to add value to consumer's buying process. This will not only enable a more meaningful dialog but also enable associates to provide personalized suggestions / recommendations based on consumer preferences, likes/ dislikes, purchase & browsing history  and drive upsell cross sell based on what is being purchased today. Also, retailers can come up with a comprehensive communication strategy ensuring that the in store interaction with associate continues post visit through emails on new product launches or invitation to store events. 

  • Build a scalable, flexible, integrated consumer engagement platform to house business processes, powered by a common data model and services to render sales and service information to any device / form factor. Equipped with mobile or tablet device, store associate should be able to tap into this platform and engage with consumers helping them select products, provide custom promotions, instantly order leveraging global inventory while allowing the consumer to pay and checkout in the aisle. Store mobility initiatives which enable back office supply chain functions such as receiving shipments can positively impact their operational effectiveness.

  • Last but not the least, adequate provision should be made to train store manager and associates on the best practices, business process , workflows and tools to  increase adoption and deliver higher value to consumers . Whether it is process of inviting consumers for store events, balancing in-store customer service with fulfilling orders or aligning store processes to meet pick up SLA's for online order fulfilled from store, providing training assistance goes a long way in improving sales efficiency and effectiveness.

Investing in empowering store associate to provide truly personalized service can yield higher conversions, improve store traffic and increase average order value while bolstering brand loyalty. I'd love to hear your experiences, challenges faced, impact on business and IT while deploying solutions to enable store associates

Continue reading "Empowering the Store Associate" »

April 24, 2014

Omni Channel Retailing -Are you prepared to win?

I wanted to buy a new smartphone and my brand engagement began with a Facebook recommendation from a friend who kept raving about his new possession, Galaxy S5. Interested, I googled the phone on my tablet, went to the product site to understand new features and also watched its video on You Tube. After reading expert and user reviews on CNET and exhaustive price search, I ended up buying it online from Best Buy, and picking up the same day at a store next to my home.

Today's empowered digital consumer has dynamic, non-linear shopping journeys.   They are demanding and have more power and choice than ever before. With rapid evolution in consumer buying behavior, emergence of new technologies and constantly changing competitive landscape, retailers need to rethink their business and operating model to stay relevant. As retailers transform, they will need to focus on 4 key dimensions to successfully convert an anonymous buyer to an engaged consumer.

  • Delivering consistent Consumer experience: Consumers expect the retailers to know and inspire them at every touch point, make shopping easy and convenient while valuing them for their loyalty, influence and life time value. For this, retailers need to know their consumers and their interactions across channels, engaging them early with inspirational content and easily searchable rich product information, providing access to enterprise wide inventory alongside personalized offers and flexible payment, shipping, and return options. Retailer will need to understand different paths to purchase and be there at every touch point to optimize the buying process.
  • Flawless Execution to match consumer expectation of product assortment, location, price, delivery and service. Retailers are taking on several measures to bring in agility in their supply chain. For example, leading retailers are now shipping products for online orders from stores closer to consumer to not only improve delivery time but also reduce shipping costs Retailers are also accessing social network data to refine demand forecasts and localize assortments. Retailers are leveraging predictive analytics to ensure inventory availability at the right place and time to minimize stock outs and reduce mark down.
  • Retailers also need an integrated, flexible and scalable digital platform powered by a common data set and technology services hub, ready to be tapped into from anywhere and any device. Such a platform will enable integration of business functions often spread across different departments and enable a single view of the customer, order, product information, inventory and price across channels. This foundation is crucial in driving consistent experience as consumers suspend and resume transactions across channels. This will also bring in increased agility to add new capabilities and onboard newer markets.
  • Last but not least, organization structure needs to align to reduce channel silos. Several leading retailers have created roles like 'Head/VP of Omni channel' as a step towards eliminating channel boundaries. Other retailers have reorganized by brands in order to deliver a unified customer experience across channels. Changes in the operating model also ushers in new processes, system, and shift in roles and responsibilities which needs to be managed deftly.

Omni channel transformation has a profound impact on an organization's value chain. Hence, it is imperative to have a clear vision and a multi-pronged strategy focused on consumer, operations, technology and change management to be successful. What strategies have you focused on to enable Omni channel? I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially challenges faced in transforming your organization.


    1. Continue reading "Omni Channel Retailing -Are you prepared to win?" »

      April 22, 2014

      Exciting times for Point of Sale!

      On behalf of : Somasundaram Kuttalingam


      POS (Point of Sale) is that location in a store where all the efforts of a retailer in trying to sell a product finally bears fruit - yes, that's the place where the sale happens and the payment gets recorded. POS systems are heavily used in Hospitality industry as well. History shows that the retailers slowly moved away from book and ledgers to electronic systems to record their sale and collect payments. These electronic systems, over a period of time, gathered more features and provisions to accommodate government rules on selling some of the products. POS software took giant leaps of improvements whenever there has been a change on the computing industry. POS systems, which initially started as smaller version of Mainframe systems, moved over to PC based solutions when the computing industry moved from Mainframe to PC. Now, with another giant leap happening on the computing industry - Tables, Smartphones and Cloud computing, the POS industry is also at the cusp of a major turn in history.

      Continue reading "Exciting times for Point of Sale!" »

      Disruptive Technologies - The innovator's Dilemma.

      Retail industry is not new to waves of technology transformation. The first wave was the creation of microchip and computers; the second was internet and the third is all about social and mobile. The third wave is about disruptive innovation. A term coined by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christenson to describe an innovation in the field of technology that displaces an existing market and competitor. Some of the popular disruptive technologies are Augmented Reality, Interactive Television, Image Recognition and Connective Devices such as smart phones, tablets that have revolutionized the way customer shops today.

      Continue reading "Disruptive Technologies - The innovator's Dilemma." »

      April 8, 2014

      To Pause (POS) or Not

      In a recent study done by University of Arizona and Demandware it was highlighted that Traditional POS systems at Brick and Mortar stores are not able to keep pace with the expectations of digital consumers and the retailer's response in the form of omni-channel strategies.

      The reasons are not hard to see; today's POS systems are no better than siloed systems that have stores as boundaries and cannot look outside to support many of the retailer's omni-channel aspirations. Thus the tools and software available as part of traditional POS are falling short of supporting some of the key initiatives like

      ·        Single view of customer (or the 360o customer view),
      ·        Cross channel inventory visibility
      ·        Looking up inventory in nearby stores or
      ·        Assisted Selling and Product personalization
      ·        Personalized Offers

      Also added to that these traditional POS devices have a cyclical re-haul  which is to happen in the next 2-3 years -perfectly coinciding with the thinking of several CIOs to see if they should replace the Traditional POS systems.

      So what are the alternatives that CIOs or Leaders have -

      Option1: Extension of current POS to bridge the Gap

      One easy way out for retailers is a natural extension of current capabilities and investments to support future needs. Some POS vendors like NCR, Epicor and Oracle already offer capabilities like Assisted Selling, targeted up-sell and cross-sell and mobile POS.

      This option is characterized by (View image) leveraging existing investments to a large extent, lower cost, Faster Time to market, Incremental Change management and clearly Short Term Focus.

      Option2: Overhaul of the current system in favor of a common customer transaction suite

      A compelling alternative would be that of extending the best in class digital commerce architecture to support store operations. This solution will help connect all channels and implement an integrated solution that will provide a common view of customers, products, inventory, price, promotion and order information. This will also help address other in store opportunities like guided selling, and locate nearby store inventory to save the sale.

      This approach is generally characterized (View imageby a Flexible Architecture that can scale to support future needs, Significant Initial Investment, a Big Bang Approach to replace existing POS systems, Training and change management initiatives that are needed to support such a big bang and finally has a Long Term Strategic focus.

      In the not so distant future we might as well hear from the best in class digital commerce platform vendors like hybris, IBM WCS, ATG and Demandware about the emergence of a new class of enterprise software - we can call it the 'Customer Experience Management Suite' or 'Integrated Customer Transaction Platform' covering all customer touch points (from stores, desktop, mobile, tablet and Call Center) and providing truly seamless experience. 

      However replacing the Traditional POS systems cannot happen overnight nor is it feasible. Some of the broad questions below need to be answered before we can arrive at meaningful answers and way forward

      1. Risk perception of Retailers: What if it means putting all the eggs in a single basket for retailers and if they perceive a higher risk in doing that then that's a huge impediment to deal with.
      2.  Complement or Supersede - Given that traditional POS is entrenched and is a proven model, should retailers look to complement investments in Traditional POS with that from the new customer platform?
      3. Applicability for all types of Retail: Will the new POS platform be suited for all types of retail businesses? Definitely the opinion seems to be divided here - will it be more suited for High value transaction businesses compared to high volume transactions
      4. Security Concerns:  The security and PCI Compliance for traditional retail POS further augmented by Video Surveillance puts it ahead of Mobile POS and make the current offering fairly robust with very few incidence of violations. Unless the new platform is able to match up the security aspects of incumbent it is going to be a hard bargain.
      5. Reliability: Given that the new Mobile POS will run on Wireless network, questions around matching the reliability and availability of existing POS system needs to be addressed
      6. Tenders: Again Traditional POS is designed to accept multiple tender types like Cash and card at a bare minimum. Support for multiple types of tenders needs to be built in
      7. Purpose of Use - Self Service or Assisted: How should mobile POS (based on digital commerce architecture) be used in stores?  Should it be left for self-service as standalone kiosk for customers to checkout and complete payment or should it be used by the Store Associate as assisted selling tool? Or should it be a combination thereof?
      8. Business Process Re-Design / Standardization: Right from re-defining the roles of cashiers and store Associates to designing new business process ranging from providing common inventory visibility, uniform chain level pricing, common promotion definition & delivery, Guided selling, Deliver to home and many more - there is a whole lot of Business process and Role alignment that needs to be thought through and designed.
      9. Training needs: Identification of Change management and Training aspects needs to be done upfront. This will help address various aspects like for example, in an assisted selling scenario (using a new mobile POS platform) determine when exactly to approach the customer to assist and close the transaction? Approaching too early might result in wasted opportunity as customer might have other items or approaching too late will mean wasted opportunity. The roles of cashiers needs to be re-evaluated- How to reskill the current army of cashiers and deploy them as trained store associates to help in clientiling or assisted selling
      10. Choice of Technology: Several options exists for retailer that needs a very careful consideration
          1. Platform Options
            • Extension of current Platform with value added use cases
            • Re-haul of existing platform in favor of Table POS
            • Re-haul of existing platform in favor of an integrated Customer transaction platform driven by digital commerce architecture
          2. Other considerations:
            • SAAS vs On-premises
            • Single tier vs n-tier
            • Rich Website like UX vs traditional POS like UX / features
            • Global Platform vs Localization Needs (store specific, Brand specific)
            • Point to point integration vs Open Standards based Integration with ERPs

      It is now fairly evident that it needs a long drawn process where the pros and cons need to be weighed in before a final decision. For the near future we can safely assume that new POS (Integrated Customer Transaction Platform) at best might at co-exist with the enhanced versions of Traditional POS and not end up replacing it altogether.

      However in the long run once the benefits from the new systems are realized, when the risk-reward equation has been hashed out and after enough pilots validate/fail to validate the hypothesis and long after store associates are adequately trained and when Mobile Payments become main-stream - we can for sure say that the new POS platform (with much lower incremental cost) will have sufficiently replaced the existing ones.

      In my view we are 5 years from that point of inflection, but that's good enough a time for the likes of established Traditional POS players like Epicor, Oracle, NCR SAP, Microsoft and Retalix to take rearguard action and have a compelling solution offering to stifle progress of Digital Technologies in their own turf. Whichever way the pendulum swings, it's a very interesting space to observe and act in the next 18-24 months as it is bound to have far reaching impact on the future and landscape of POS technologies and solution offerings.