Is multi-channel technology the answer to Sunday Trading?

shutterstock_193673435Right now retailers across the UK are debating the need to relax Sunday Trading Act, and perhaps multi-channel electronic point of sale technology can help them to win their argument.

This is the Act that came into effect in August 1994 that allowed stores over 3,000sq ft to open for six hours only on a Sunday between 10am and 6pm (closing all day on Easter Sunday), while stores under 3,000 sq ft have no restrictions.

The act was introduced to support the opinion that no worker should be forced to work on Sundays, but recently a Comres poll commissioned by lobbying group ‘Open Sundays’ revealed that 72% of people believe they should be able to shop whenever is convenient to them including on a Sunday. ‘Open Sundays’ go on to claim that relaxing the Sunday Trading laws will in fact be a change for the good of the economy resulting in a benefit of £20.3 billion over 20 years.

Current modern day multi-channel, EPoS technology that complements convenience based shopping actually fits very well with Sunday Trading. The online presence of stores is a simple solution for retailers to stay open virtually 24/7, while scan as you shop and self service EPoS tills have the capability to fill in for staff in store. Other technologies that can be brought into the store such as mobile and tablet can also provide a selling opportunity that doesn’t require staff assistance either. Quick Response (QR) codes and barcodes can be used to share both product information and initiates sales via payment apps.

All these shopping technologies meet with the ideal that consumers should have the option to shop or not on a Sunday, workers should be able to choose to keep Sunday special and not work, or work extra hours if they need to, and businesses should have the freedom of choice as to remain open or not.

Let’s take a closer look at how self service tills can benefit stores that want to trade on a Sunday:

  • Customers can serve, pack and pay for their goods without a member of staff being essential.
  • Self service tills can accept cash, card, coupons and contactless payments, covering all the most likely payment scenarios.
  • A small number of store assistants who are willing to work on a Sunday can over see several self service tills, allowing other members of staff to take the day off.
  • The store continues to makes sales, while saving on staff costs.
  • The additional day of selling reduces the concern of having to get rid of stock that may go out of date over the Sunday resulting in price reduction for a quick sell.

Several large retailers, Asda, Selfridges and Morrisions, are supporting the view that the Sunday Trading Act is no longer working with the shopping habits and expectations of consumers today. An Asda Spokesman told Retail Week: “Our customer’s shopping habits have changed significantly in recent years with convenience ranking high…Retailers need to adapt to meet the needs of customers”.