EPoS has a global footing in the multi-channel era

shutterstock_193184105The adoption of self service and EPoS technology is set to continue to grow across all markets in support of the multi-channel era, according to Global EPOS and Self-Checkout 2014.

New emerging technologies and developments in retail will both support the growth of new solutions and complement them by offering added services such as consumer-actioned product scans, bagging and payment. Businesses are encouraged to seek opportunities for cashless and compact self-checkout formats, modular solutions, pay towers with – or without – mobile self-scanning, and automated tunnel scanning.

The study by Retail Banking Research (RBR) is based on in-depth primary research with retail technology vendors throughout 52 countries, and it was complemented with extensive secondary research. The latest research shows that in 2013, 1.8 million EPoS terminals and 33,000 self service checkout (SCO) units were shipped worldwide, with North America seeing the highest amount of SCO solution shipments.

“Shoppers around the world are increasingly seeing retailers with self-checkout as providing a higher level of customer service by giving them the option to quickly pick and pay for their items,” says Mark Self, vice president of marketing, NCR Retail, the global leader in consumer transaction technologies as reported by Retail Banking Research. “The innovations we’ve made in ease-of-use have led to its near omni-presence in supermarkets and now increasingly in convenience stores and specialty retailers. Those advancements combined with acceptance in emerging geographies are major contributors to the impressive market growth.”

According to RBR, NCR is the leader in SCO shipments with a total of 71 percent share. The study also indicates NCR is gaining share in the global market for retail EPoS technology. NCR’s shipments increased 11 percent, while the market grew at a rate of 8 percent.

NCR has recently worked with Tesco, that is putting self service at the heart of its agenda in a bid to fit in with its customers’ modern, everyday lifestyles, on trialling self service solutions at its Convenience and Extra stores.

In doing so Tesco is now trialling slimline, card only checkouts to help save on space and cut queues in its busy London convenience stores. A number of the new checkouts are being tested in its Tooley Street store as well as at its St Pauls and Canary Wharf branches, which are all considered to be ‘on the move’ stores where customers prefer to pay by card. Tesco reports that 80% of peak-time customers pay with card and that the slimline models are half the size of the existing cash and card units, and so more of them can be installed than would usually be possible. As a result of the new EPoS technology Tesco’s claims that each transaction is now 15 seconds shorter and queue times are 25% shorter.

Tesco Chief Executive, Philip Clarke, explains Tesco’s approach to convenience stores and the technology within: “The growth of convenience is not just a UK phenomenon. A move towards proximity based retail with a higher frequency of visits is a growing trend, which we see in each of our 12 markets. The reason these stores are successful is that they suit the way customers live their lives today. People are living their lives on the move, they want to grab and go, and they want stores which provide what they need at that particular location. But like big stores, small stores have to evolve. One size fits all doesn’t work in today’s world – our stores serve the broadest range of shopping missions, affluence and demographics”.

Tesco also collaborated with NCR to redefine the customer experience by testing a next-generation, high-speed retail checkout solution that reduces queue times and improves customer experience. Each unit can scan up to three shoppers’ purchases simultaneously and enable each of them to receive, pack and pay at the same time in their own designated spot. The solution uses imaging technology from Datalogic that automatically finds the barcode on any side of the product without the need to orient the item on the conveyor belt and can scan up to 60 items per minute. This faster scanning rate aims to cut queuing and transaction process times so that customers can complete their shop as quickly as possible. Tesco Extra 24-hour store in Lincoln, U.K. is piloting four of the solutions with its customers.

The unit is not said to be focussing on reducing staff levels as there could be up to three members of Tesco staff managing the solution at one time. However, it is hoped to give staff the ability to engage further with customers and in doing so improve customer service levels by changing the staff member role to helping unload the products on to the conveyor belt or packing for example. Nigel Fletcher, director, Tesco U.K. said, “We are always looking for innovative ways to support our colleagues to give great service and to improve the shopping experience for our customers.”

“Great customer service is one of the cornerstones of today’s highly competitive U.K. retail industry and supermarkets, such as Tesco, must differentiate themselves to attract and retain shoppers,” said Ronen Levkovich, EMEA vice president, NCR Retail. “As consumers increasingly expect a better experience, incorporating innovative software and hardware becomes increasingly important. The development of this exciting new technology alongside Tesco is a great example of how we are working with customers to help them differentiate the experience and make every day easier for shoppers.”

On the importance of digital technology within the retail space, Tesco Chief Executive Philip Clarke spoke at Retail Week Conference to conclude that: “There is a lot of talk about multi-channel, omni-channel, online, digital…The word I like to use to describe the new retail world is multi-channel. It’s not complex in its definition – to me it means putting customers at the heart of the business, delivering them a seamless experience however, whenever and wherever they choose to engage with us. It encompasses the digital and physical, the transactional and non-transactional – not just how customers spend with us, but how they interact with us.

It means thinking outside the traditional paradigms, about ways customers can shop that they never thought of before. That might mean that our next Click and Collect location is in a store car park, at a tube station or next to a school or hospital – it’s driven by how our customers live their lives today, and tomorrow…To me, success is when multichannel is a word we don’t use any more and it is simply how we behave…I am a firm believer in the role of the store in the multi-channel world”.