Top 12 takeaways from Retail Business Technology Expo 2012


Retail Times editor, Fiona Briggs, reports on her top 12 retail technology finds at the Retail Business Technology Expo at Earls Court, 13-14 March 2012

1. BT and Stratacache PrimaSee

Digital chiller doors

Digital chiller doors

Retailers are putting doors on chiller cabinets so why not transform them into promotional tools with Stratacache’s PrimaSee digital displays and integrate promotional videos into the doors? Videos can correspond to the products in the chiller or used to direct shoppers to other products and locations. The digital technology can be used on chiller and freezer cabinets. Doors are thought to deter people from shopping the fixture but animated ones may encourage consumers to open the doors and buy.

 2. Wincor Nixdorf

Wincor Nixdorf showcased automated scanning at the Expo. Customers place their items on the conveyor belt in the traditional way. A new 360° scanner portal registers their purchases automatically, quickly, scanning the item barcodes at speeds of up to 60 items per minute. Said to save time and offer customers a completely new shopping experience, it increases customer throughput and enhances customer service levels, claims the company. 

 3. Profitect

Profitect looks for patterns in a retailer’s data, which highlight opportunities to reduce costs and increase revenue. Termed the ‘profit wedge’, the company helps clients boost revenue by improving availability and reduce profit leaks from shrink, waste and returns, for example. Profitect also helps retailers rank the opportunities in value terms and ensures opportunities are sustained throughout an organisation. Customers include Marks & Spencer and Morrisons in the UK and Abercrombie & Fitch in the US. In the latter, for example, Profitect identified a pattern of returns for a jacket with a fake fur collar. It found there was no washing instruction on the garment to advise against putting it in a drier, which spoilt the look. The problem was rectified and the fashion line saved at the height of the season. Read Profitect’s blog, Pump up the Profit

4. BT and Media Zest

Virtual assistants. These cut out characters are animated via rear projection and can be interactive to provide FAQs as well as voice recognition. Deployed by HMV, interest has also come from football clubs who are looking to use these virtual mannequins for kit launches. They could also be used in way finding, while grocery retailers could consider using the virtual assistants to project the celebrities who endorse their offers.

5. Epson

Epson has developed a retail printing solution capable of working with cloud-based systems, reducing costs and streamlining customer interactions. The new printers, the Epson TM-T88V-i and TM-T70-i, have been developed using Epson’s new ePOS print technology. This enables users to print out receipts, tickets and coupons at the point of sale, as well as in back office and kitchen environments, directly from tablets and other mobile devices. Both printers are said to be ideally suited to retail stores and hospitality environments, such as restaurants and bars; in which tablet devices are used for taking orders, processing sales and cutting down on queuing times at the till point. Epson claims the solutions help improve the customer experience.

6. Anya Media

Online retail agency Anya Media revealed the results of its On-the-Show-Floor Survey of more than 100 senior staff from a range of retail and leisure sectors. It found retailers are discounting huge amounts of stock to get rid of excess inventory as a result of overbuying, or purchasing the wrong products. And they are failing to make use of the latest merchandising techniques and software to give them the customer insight they need to avoid these mistakes. More than half of retailers said they typically discount at least 10-24% of their stock. Only 6% said they used merchandising software to help make their discounting decision. “Many companies are reading the market poorly and are confused about what their customers are looking for,” said Anya Media’s managing director, Christina Grzasko. “As a result, they are overbuying, and buying in products that don’t match what their customers actually want to buy. Very few are using dedicated merchandising software to address this problem. Yet, these kinds of solutions can help them make the right purchasing decisions, cut the volume of discounted goods and reduce the risk associated with stock buying. Without the right merchandising software it is almost impossible for companies to work out whether they are discounting the right products.”

 7. BT and Symon Dacon

Digital signage including a fully-networked interactive touch screen, which can be used for way finding in-store or to feature recipes, which can be printed off or scanned by a mobile phone. The company also showcased rear-projected digital tiles, which can be stacked in a range of formations. Content can be tailored to individual screens.

 8. NCR

NCR previewed a convertible self-service and assisted-checkout unit, which is designed to help retailers increase staff productivity, improve customer service and give consumers more choices at the checkout. The NCR SelfServ Checkout Convertible switches between self- or assisted-service checkout modes, based on a retailer’s operating model and customer traffic. This switch is accomplished through a swivel mount design and a secondary display and pinpad for staff. 

9. BT and Verint

The CCTV and software business partners with BT to provide business intelligence through software behind its CCTV technology. It can be used to map the customer’s journey in-store, where they dwell and spend time and the effectiveness of promotions, for instance. The technology highlights in-store hot spots as well as ‘cold’ areas. Customers include Wal-Mart and, in the UK, high street fashion retailers and DIY sheds.

10. Timico

Independent internet service provider Timico revealed how hundreds of Murco Petroleum service stations are now benefiting from its latest technological advancements. Murco has invested in new IT systems from the Nottinghamshire-based company to enable it to eliminate missed sales opportunities caused by the temporary loss of internet connection, adding to advancements which have already reduced the time its managers and employees spend on admin. In order to ensure payment for Murco’s expanding fuel and non-fuel retail offering can always be taken via credit and debit card, Murco has added 3G capability to its Timico Wide Area Network. Through Timico’s new Mobile Access Management (MAM) service, systems in all of Murco Petroleum’s service stations will automatically switch to the failsafe wireless back-up if connectivity is lost during business hours.

 11. Casio

Casio launched a new cloud services Casio Business Portal and the VX Tablet, its first Android platform tablet computer at the Expo. The Casio Business Portal is claimed to offer retailers limitless opportunities to take advantage of Android’s application-based platform. The business portal will provide retailers with on-demand, low-cost apps and services, as well as the opportunity to trial applications and to roll-out with a phased programme. Retailers are free to create their own apps, increasing ways to interact with customers, upsell, generate new revenue streams and handle stock control more efficiently. Potential app ideas include mobile phone receipts instead of paper receipts, electronic discount vouchers and SMS marketing direct from the local EPOS device. According to Casio, the VX Tablet gives retailers the power to take service direct to the customer. Features include a rugged design, large colour touch screen, communication options with GPS for accurate positioning and long battery life designed for extensive overlapping work shifts in retail.

12. BT Expedite

Mobile pos is no longer just used for queue busting but for store staff to share rich, online content with their customers. Trialed by the Aurora fashion chain, the mobile pos enables staff to check stock availability, place orders for next day delivery or to store as well as complete transactions. There’s even a Paypal option and receipts can be emailed to customers. Devices can also incorporate full merchandising information and be used for e-learning activities.