On this episode of the ITProPortal podcast we are joined by Guy Boxall, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Casio on the phone from the Retail Business Technology Expo where Casio are unveiling their new cloud module for retail businesses and talking about their visions for cloud usage within the retail sector.
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So there are few products that you are announcing what have you unveiled at the Retail, Business and Technology Expo?
One of the big announcements is that we are focusing very much on the High Street in particular and looking at the way that consumers are buying more and more products on line. We are looking at retail sales on line and that is predicted to rise to 30% by 2020. So we are looking at helping the High Street by giving better customer service to their consumers, and to have more information, better information and more accurate information available in store and to the managers and owners of those stores as well. So, for the retail show this week we are launching the CBMS Cloud Reporting and CBMS Casio Business Management Solutions that take our ECOS hardware and connects it up to our own cloud service. It is aimed at retailers who are small and large tiers 1, 2, 3, and 4 from your multiples to your small independents and we allowing them to access their retail data in real time on line through account services.
What impact do you hope this product will have on the day to day work of a retail manager then – what are your aims?
It allows managers to look at things like pricing and control. It allows the retailer to monitor their profit on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. It allows them to do things like enter price changes on special offers so if they are overstocked on a particular item they can order a promotion such a multi-buy or similar. They can do that remotely and access the cloud service in real time very quickly. For example, a restaurant could do special price meal deals for where they are quiet between the hours of 7-8 on a particular day for instance.
How is the retail market seeing the development of cloud? What are the uses, impact and changes in business that you’re seeing it bring?
Cloud is used by individuals as we all know, with things like iTunes and for the Kindle where you are buying eBook and storing them in the cloud and pulling them down as you want to read them. What we want to do in retail is make use of cloud services to allow retailers to get better and more accurate data in real time. Taking that from B2C into a B2B situation is where we are finding the exciting way forward in the High Street. To give you an example for a fashion retailer, a customer might choose an item of clothing that they like but if the retailer has not got their size in stock or the colour they want they tend to walk out of the store and the sale is lost. With the cloud services using the VR100 ethos and the tablet, you can go in and see the product and if they have not got it in stock you can, (in real time) go into the cloud and see which store you can order it from and have it delivered to your home address or arrange to have it picked up while the customer is still inside the shop. That way you don’t loose the order you don’t loose the customer. Help for the customer helps increase sales and overall increases their business.
How do you present cloud technologies to make them easy to use and understand for the retail market – it has to be simple to implement doesn’t it?
It is really supplying a service to a consumer so the consumer does not really see the cloud being used. To the consumer it is just another service provided by the retailer to make their life easier. So actually the term cloud is very much targeted at the retailer and how it can help their business and to the consumer buying goods it is invisible to them. That means the consumer can get a product at the price they want to pay for it, without having to look online. They can get the colour and the size they want and they can buy it now. If they can’t take it away from the shop right now they can pick it up from the shop later today or they can have it home delivered tomorrow. It is all about helping the High Street retailer grow their sales again with consumers. We see this targeted very much at fashion shops, shoe shops, accessory shops and that kind of retailer. Also for the hospitality sector such as restaurants and pubs who are using it to look at getting the public along.
This time last year you were releasing the Android based EPOS Terminal and Tablet based systems. What impact have they managed to have over the last 12 months?
Quite phenomenal actually. The VR100 got a lot of interest and we targeted it specifically at the tier 4 retailer. To give you some examples, 'The Men’s Room' is a Liverpool barbers and they used our VR100 within their salon business for booking appointments and managing commissions for their staff. It made quite considerable savings to their business. We have a fashion store up in the north of England and they reckon they have saved a lot of electricity by using the android operating system as it has reduced their overheads and has opened doors to a host of new retail apps that they say is providing their customers with a real enhanced customer service. Other examples include a restaurant in London and the Soho Hill bar who are finding it much easier to break down their menu into individual items to see where the profit is coming from whether it is teas, coffees, foods etc This helps them to create menus and it makes it easier to monitor their stock in and stock out so they can reduce perishable items and make sure that they deliver the freshest food to their customers. Another example is a grocery retailer and they are using it to target special promotions and use it for email shots and targeted messaging for their customers who opt in for special offer promotions. So yes, we have got a huge range of retailers coming on board using the technology already and it is an exciting time.
What is the vision for the future at Casio then for how systems like this will change the customer experience in store? How would you like to see this changing retail for the future?
I think that there will always be the online business growth and with using the big on line suppliers like Amazon we know why they are successful. I think if you look at the retail High Street today we can bring back the excitement of buying items like clothing where you have that touchy feely type of product where you need to see the goods, where you need to look at the quality where you need to look at the price in relation to what you are buying and I think we can help bring customers back into shops using this technology. The technology is of quite considerable benefit to the consumer by providing a much better service from the retailer. I think the way forward actually is that we will find that consumers will buy products like books and CD’s as seen today more and more on line, but I think for items like fashion for example we will see the retailer becoming much more popular.