Retail Insider Awards – Meet the ‘Best In-store Experience of the Year’ shortlist


Retail Insider recently announced the shortlist for its ‘Transforming Retail Awards’ and over the next few weeks we will be focusing on each of the six categories in the awards.  For each we will be providing a profile of each of the shortlisted entries.

Best In-store Experience of the Year (sponsored by K3 Retail)

1. Tossed

In March 2016, Tossed, the healthier eating place, made headlines when it launched Europe’s first cashless stores at its new Coleman Street and Upper Thames Street shops off the back of a successful crowdfunding raise.

The technology supporting this market-first innovation are its unique kiosk-based ordering points which had been 18 months in development together with EPOS provider Pointone. Operating on Android tablets and housed in attractive-looking stands on bespoke Corian counters, these kiosks allow Tossed guests to browse the menu and place their order at their own speed.

The menu navigation system is intuitive for users and operates much like an online shopping interface, whilst it showcases product with attractive visuals. All of the characteristics that make Tossed’s menu special have been retained, such as the ability to customise products and view nutritional content before purchase.

Guests pay by card, contactless or phone on PDQ machines that are integrated with the kiosk ordering points. After payment they receive a ticket printout with their order, complete with a randomly-allocated celebrity name which is called when their order is ready for collection.

Alternatively, they log into their account to re-order their favourite dish and collect with their own name. Mobile and web technology allows Tossed to take the kiosks one step further, and it has recently relaunched these to provide guests with a “kiosk in their pocket” meaning they can order from the same intuitive interface at their convenience.

Better instore guest experience

The intuitive nature of the kiosk operating system means that most guests find them very easy to use. The removal of cashiers was potential a risky move in removing a key point of guest interaction. However, there has been no negative feedback; guests prefer instead to have the time & space to browse the menu at their own pace, rather than perhaps feel rushed by a cashier.

A new role of “lobby host” has been created, with responsibility for ensuring guests who are new to the system or require some assistance are well looked after. The theatre of food production, salad tossing and handover is retained at the collection point so the guest still enjoys what makes Tossed special: customisable food made-to-order, fast.

Better guest service is evidenced by a significant improvement in average Mystery Guest visit score from the kiosk stores, and a reduction in waiting times. The positive feedback and financial results were such that Tossed quickly retro-fitted the solution across its 17-strong London estate. Where tills are replaced by kiosks, there are typically more than 3 times as many ordering points created. This allows more transactions to be processed at peak time, and the kiosks include upsell prompts and meal  deals as part of the user-journey.

Driving sales

Tossed has seen this driving double-digit sales growth, as well as an improvement in food and labour margins, and expects to see further growth through web & mobile. Cashiers have been retrained onto the production team, allowing Tossed to invest more hours in enhancing the speed of the food production, as well as improving the quality of the ingredients. The result is more time invested in value-adding activities, whilst the technology takes care of what was operationally time-consuming and labour-intensive ordering process. In addition, the removal of cash-handling and a reduction in paper in the business with the latest no-receipt orders are welcome ancillary benefits.

The reception in the marketplace has been hot, with several competitors actively looking for “me too” solutions. Tossed’s innovation has been recognised more widely, the business being named as one of Marketing Week’s Top 100 Disruptive Brands, and as one of Retail Insider’s Top 25 Innovative Retailers.


2. Red Ant / Sofology

Sofology wanted sales colleagues (Sofologists) to deliver a personalised experience where they can access everything they need to know, with support tailored to customers.

Red Ant partnered with Sofology to build an employee application which was piloted in May/June 2017 in three stores, with planned full rollout by the end of 2017.

Built to offer a cross-channel experience and integrated with their hybris ecommerce website across the full retail estate, the application removes the boundaries between online and offline:

  • Monitoring customers entering the store with the application and viewing wishlists
  • Empowering Sofologists to have as much information about the customer’s preferences as possible
  • Notifying the nearest Sofologist when a customer calls for assistance, who will accept/reject the request and this will continue in a chain until a Sofologist accepts and assists the customer
  • Sending personalised push messages to customers in store

How this solution makes a difference to users

This integrated application gives Sofologists the ability to assist individual sales from start to finish:

  • Customer preferences can be accessed by Sofologists through the customer’s online activity – profile, basket etc
  • Full functionality of the website is available in-store, allowing sales colleagues to browse all ranges with the customer so they can create orders and build up baskets to be saved to their online account
  • Sofologists can enhance the customer experience using the 3D touch and zoom functions in new iOS devices
  • Ability to push content back and forth between the customer and the Sofologist application, allowing them to push any products they have been discussing to the customer’s online favourites
  • Sofologists can take customers through the sales process on their application and push back to them for payments if they wish to enter their details more privately
  • Able to update all customer details in the application as well as display sales-based information such as lead times based on postcode
  • Sofologists benefit from more accurate recording of their performance with the ability to check sales stats and receive in-store sales attribution


As the Sofologist application is in the early stages of the pilot, results are just beginning to come through:

  • Early indications suggest that Sofologists moving from an existing legacy system to the new application have found it very easy to use and are excited by the possibilities it offers
  • Already it has helped to increase conversion, with reports of a ‘steady ramp’ in ‘complete at home’ purchases
  • Customer feedback has been extremely positive, with reports that they immediately feel comfortable and familiar with the way the app works
  • Sofologists using the app have reported that they can confidently turn the screen around to customers at any point in the journey and that it is intuitive, takes minutes to pick up and serves customer facing information quickly and efficiently.


3. Dixons Carphone

With online purchasing an ever-more enticing option to time-poor customers, digital innovation is playing a crucial role in keeping the in-store experience fresh and exciting.  Our strategic approach is focused on developing digital innovation in key areas:


We developed, tested and rolled out a bespoke 4K (UHD) distribution system, delivering a worldwide first-to-market ‘immersive vision area’ where customers can see the latest 4K TVs with full true broadcast 4K.

Stores with our 4k distribution system have significantly increased 4K penetration vs control stores, exceeding our business case.  We have seen a significant Increase in 4k market share, and delivered ROI ahead of schedule.

Digital signage: Our LED signage, featured in 150+ stores including our flagship Oxford Street store, adds extra ‘wow’ to entice customers / drive increased footfall.


Digital imaging wall (DIW): This new, highly-interactive visual technology allows customers to conduct instant, comparative analyses between multiple cameras. Customers can try different lenses, take pictures and compare image quality along with key product information on a large 4k screen display. Stores with a DIW have seen sales uplifts for DSLR cameras, camera lenses, and general camera sales.

Connectivity wall: A 4k screen demonstrates the range of Internet of Things products offered, showcasing different products for different times of day (including a smart coffee maker and home security camera), with tablets available for customers to control what they see.


Smart Watch: Developed with Samsung, and first to market worldwide, this enables colleagues to talk with customers while checking key product information such as stock availability and product attachments. The dedicated app in the watch connects directly to our warehouse and online system. For more detailed information, such as price comparisons, colleagues are also now equipped with a tablet.

In-store Kiosks: Customers can check-in when arriving in-store for click and collect items, avoiding the need to queue. They are then free to browse the store/shop elsewhere; a text informs then when their item is ready. Shop floor colleagues are also notified of customers’ arrival, so they can discuss add-on products or services they might want.