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Developing the stores of the future

Today’s myriad customer journeys have made things so complicated for retailers. Where once it was simply a case of customers walking into a shop and buying the product, we now have numerous channels that have created a complex web of touch-points for retailers to manage.

Speaking at Retail’s Big Show, organised by NRF, in New York last week Phil Curnow, Practice Lead for system design & development at Waitrose, suggested: “There is a challenge managing different customer journeys with technology sitting across multiple silos.

The myriad of devices used is adding to this challenge. There is staggering complexity in this.”Just taking the store environment he highlighted how there are traditional fixed tills for grocery as well as specific solutions for in-store restaurants, kiosks, self-checkout devices, self scan, and the likes of click & collect to also deal with in-store.

And with customers now creating virtual shopping baskets on their mobile devices at home and potentially using them in-store in the future to collect the goods and make payment there is going to be even more complexity to handle.

Recognising that things are only going to get a lot more complicated Curnow has been working with IT firm PCMS to utilise a common technology platform that can be plugged into all the firms different payment devices thereby providing great flexibility and freedom in the future to add in new innovative ways to interact with customers during their shopping journeys.

The common application in this case is Vision OnDemand and it is already enabling Waitrose to experiment. “We’re at the start of a journey with this and it provides a lot of new opportunities. We can provide flexible convenient ways for customers to transact across all channels and touch-points,” he says.

During a Breakfast Briefing that ran alongside the NRF event Tom Fuller, head of IT customer relationships at Waitrose, mentioned the prospect of an in-location offers/promotions solution being developed so when shoppers walk past items offers pop up on their mobile or the company’s self-scan device.

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New in-store technologies develop

And as an extension to the company’s in-store Self scan solution (Quick Check) customers could also soon be doing the scanning at home on their own devices and building their basket at home. Payment could ultimately be made in store via the likes of ApplePay.

Based on this new common application infrastructure Waitrose is currently running a trial in the new Graze cafes at two of its stores whereby iPads are used as mobile tills for taking at-table orders. A payment solution will be added to the solution in the future.

As the company develops its in-store hospitality – with restaurants and vending machines – there will be yet more opportunities for using the PCMS solution to easily basket-build on mobile devices.

To the customer this technology infrastructure is completely hidden but it is this that enables them to make increasingly complex shopping journeys utilising lots of different devices.

Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider