iVend Retail Summit – 2013


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.

Mobile POS – The New Point of Service

iVend Mobile POS, is one of the latest innovations from CitiXsys and forms an important part of the iVend Retail Management Suite. Built to operate on iOS devices and Andriod tablets, iVend Mobile POS suites the retail strategy of retail leaders who adopt innovative retail technologies to make their customers happy.

As an application, iVend Mobile is as relevant to mid-sized retailers who want to expand their retail footprint much faster, as it is to large format retailers who utilize iVend Mobile as a queue buster and also as a tool to optimize expensive real estate space.

The application allows small format retail chains to expand faster and open new outlets by significantly reducing time required to setup an IT infrastructure. This is achieved by iVend Mobile’s ability to directly connect to iVend HO Server. On the other hand, iVend Mobile allows a large format retail chains where a retailer would like to increase the checkout points without compromising on expensive real estate space. In this case iVend Mobile connects to the store server.

This one feature of iVend Mobile gives all retailers an unprecedented leverage for a faster expansion without any compromises.

iVend Mobile will be made available at Apple App Store and Google Play in July 2013 and will get installed on the mobile device like any other App.

The configuration settings which include setup of the peripherals, preferred language, printers, etc. are done on the handheld device.

User can either specify a fixed time during the day when the synchronization is to be executed OR the user can specify the synchronization frequency at which the transactional data from iVend Mobile will get synchronized to the iVend Server.

The transactional data gets synchronized in real time whereas the updates from iVend HO server get synchronized at the defined frequency.

iVend Mobile not only works when the device is connected to the store or the HO server over a WiFi or 3G connection (on line mode) but is also designed to work even when there is no network connectivity (offline mode) With little to no investments in IT Infrastructure, iVend Mobile turns out to be an extremely affordable solution. The costs associated with procuring and maintaining retail peripherals for terminal POS are far more than those of running mobile POS.

The money value of time saved for the customers by busting queues is an important factor in enhanced customer satisfaction. In addition to the time saved at the checkout counter, a mobile POS gives an opportunity to the store executive to upsell items while interacting with the customers on the floor.

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.

The roaming checkout –Why mobility is the new imperative for Retail?

iVend Mobile Today’s tech savvy shoppers are adopting new mobile technologies at a record-setting pace. The use of wireless devices is multiplying exponentially, with countless app stores and applications springing up to meet the demand.

As customers use Internet-enabled technology to accomplish even more of what they do, these applications and devices have become increasingly personal, anticipating customers’ needs and offering goods and services to meet them. Retailers must keep pace with this rising expectation of on-demand service whenever and wherever desired—including inside the retail establishment.

Mobile POS (Point of Sale) is a readily available solution. Mobile commerce has become increasingly familiar, convenient and secure, with consumers feeling more comfortable making purchases using this option. Big retailers have capitalized on the change—boosting sales and gaining repeat business via transactions on mobile devices.

But there is no reason to limit such sales to Smartphones. With the advent of wireless networks, Mobile POS equipment offers an ideal solution to (1) address poor service and missed sales opportunities resulting from insufficient information about features and promotions at product displays; (2) alleviate customer frustration due to long or slow-moving check-out lines; (3) replace outdated and non-scalable immobile software systems; and (4) avoid lost revenue from reduction in valuable floor space when additional hardware is installed to increase sales points.

Typical features include:

  • User authentication / security
  • Equipped for credit card payments
  • Scan and manual entry capability
  • Access to item details such as inventory
  • Recovery, suspension, cancellation or deletion of transactions
  • On-screen stylus signature

As a portable solution for completing sales transactions and processing returns, Mobile POS makes it possible to add to the number of “cash registers” without multiplying the number of stationary machines. Whenever there are long lines at the registers, portable POS devices can be distributed to store personnel so customers can engage them to make purchases.

Associates scan the customers’ items with the attached UPC (Universal Product Code) scanner, after which customers are able to pay by swiping a credit/debit card along a slot in the same machine. The transaction details are transmitted from the mobile POS to the business’s server using a secured wireless network. The server then communicates with third party agencies such as Visa or Master Card to authorize payment.

Once authorized, information is sent back to the business’s server, which then communicates with the mobile POS to produce a receipt for the transaction. The design of the device allows it to be integrated with legacy POS systems so the store’s data and processing will not be disrupted.

When using the mobile device to process transactions, the payment gateway connections should not be disrupted (they should be as effective as broadband) and location specific mobile payment security guidelines should be strictly followed. That said, it is clear mobile POS represents a positive change with a number of benefits and features to help forward-thinking retailers leverage technology to improve business.

Closely related to a reduction in customer wait time are:

  • Interaction with the store personnel to assist in making shopping decisions
  • Retailer can increase the number of POS without adding new cash registers
  • Can be carried to any location in the store, as needed.
  • Helpful in handling additional volume during peak shopping seasons
  • Keypad will feed in customer information with receipts sent to customer’s mail ID

Mobile technology represents an enormous opportunity to improve store operations and consumer interactions, with mobile POS offering another innovative way to win customer loyalty and gain greater market share by addressing the consumers’ never-ending desire for speed and convenience.

Retail Mobility – Improve shopping experience & Customer satisfaction

iVend Mobility

With the explosive competition growth that almost defines the retail sector, a multi-faceted approach such as that provided by integrating your retail systems is no longer a luxury, but an imperative. This is especially true in light of the fact that even successful retail companies miss out on a substantial amount of conversions at their mobile POS, due to their inability to identify their most loyal conversions. Indeed; the number of missed opportunities can be staggering, given that these consumers are quite frequently repeat buyers.

Integrated retail systems have been shown to play a huge part in driving more people into your network, from which they continue on to your mobile POS, or other platform of lead conversion. Today’s software has grown ever more powerful to meet the demand, highlighting convenience for the user with such novel and time-saving improvements as touch-screen interfaces to match the speedier processors on the market now. Statistics show that the importance of mobile marketing is skyrocketing, and is expected to surpass all other forms in the coming years. This means that everything you do with your company, from the human resources angle of ensuring customer loyalty, to the establishment of retail innovations, will all need to converge on a mobile POS for maximum effect.

It isn’t possible to overestimate the importance of customer engagement directly at your mobile POS. In the past, it was all about traffic, because traffic led to an acceptable percentage of conversions given the right long-tail keywords. Today, however, this isn’t enough; since retail keywords are so competitive, you now have to treat every visitor as a valued consumer, which is done mostly through the offering of deals tailored to any previous purchases they might have made; contests and prizes to keep their interest and interaction with your brand piqued, and metrics that gauge their satisfaction with each product.

With the rise of social media in the past few years, it is clear that customer loyalty is synonymous with customer engagement. Besides the things your retail outfit should keep in mind for the mobile POS, well before they get there, people like to be informed about products and services in a way that doesn’t seem like advertising. After all, consumers are always looking for the product you and your competitors are pitching; the key is getting them to yours first and keeping them there. Constructing informative posts that do nothing but update offers extensively, encouraging a comments section to help foster ideas for amendments for your future posts – it’s the best way to engage with the potential consumer and enter into a dialogue.

Integrated Retail software can help your business with keeping track of the multi-channel retailing that will ensure your company’s competitiveness on all Retail touchpoints. Business Intelligence dashboards that lay everything out at your fingertips will facilitate Analytics, which aren’t just a tracking method, but also an improvement mechanism, allowing you to identify and hone in on especially lucrative areas. Retail management software frees up time to pursue retail innovations, since you will no longer be bogged down with the minutiae that often accompanies manual tracking. What better way to present yourself as an attractive and loyal enterprise than new solutions that benefit your growing customer base? Your integrated systems will be a beacon in the sea of similar enterprises, driving up your mobile POS numbers without sacrificing customer satisfaction.

Retailers adapt mobility to remain competitive

Mobility is about transacting real time data at the point of activity and accessing relevant business information whenever or wherever required. In retail this allows more staff to be available on the shop floor, where the customers are, and not at the back office.  The benefit of concentrating staff availability in customer facing areas can have a marked impact in the perception of service offered thus making the retailer more agile and competitive.

Mobile POS

Everyday more sophisticated and flexible solutions are provided by mobile computing platforms that are becoming more and more attractive to retailers.  This is due to wide acceptance of Wi-Fi and 3G networks as an everyday technology and the advantages they brings in being always connected, allowing instantaneous update of data, and real time provision of information to store employees at the point of activity as well as corporate bosses in any device.

Mobility of technology is often achieved through the provision of hand-held devices like iPhone, iPad, Android based devices and many more, which can be used to transact a process in software solution at the point of sale or where the work needs to take place. Managers can access consolidated data with a click of a button on any device possible.

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