It's been a longtime coming, but we're starting to see the full impact of eCommerce buying intelligence showing up in physical retail. The first major technology impact we saw was the introduction of beacons (see related article and white paper). With the majority of consumers shopping on their mobile devices, it only makes sense that physical retail stores take advantage of engaging their customers on their mobile devices as they shop. But this is just the beginning.
Legacy Point of Sales Systems Hindering Physical Retailers
The real opportunity, however, is not just reaching the consumers on their mobile devices, but also empowering the physical store itself with intelligence about the person shopping in the store. Today when you shop on Amazon, before the page even loads, Amazon recognizes who you are, what you've purchased previously and what you're most likely looking to buy based on your previous buying habits.
However, when you walk into a physical store today, the store doesn't have the same intelligence about you and your buying habits even though it has all the same data available to it as Amazon has. Why is that?
"Point of sale systems are still in their infancy," explains Chris Ciabarra, co-founder and chief technology officer of Revel Systems. "Most retailers are still using legacy point of sale technology that is neither connected nor intelligent."
And the problem with this lack of connection is that data can't be shared or pulled up in real-time, so retailers are constantly analyzing data after a transaction has happened rather than using their data to empower their employees and their business in real-time.
Unlocking the Data Silos
Revel's clients, who include restaurant chains such as Cinnabon and In-N-Out Burger and yet-to-be-announced national convenience stores, have realized the power of unlocking their data silos. According to an April 2016 commissioned study, Step Up The In-Person Experience, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Revel Systems, "Only 45% of retailers and 44% of restaurants, on average, have a given back-end system integrated with their POS--severely restricting the functionality that frontline employees need to serve customers and optimize operations."
And that's just one system. Very few retailers or restaurants have real-time access to their loyalty database, customer relationship management system, inventory management and sales data all working together to maximize the in-store experience for both the employee and the shopper.
Cloud-Based Point of Sale Systems Will Dramatically Improve the In-Store Shopping Experience
"In the future, there's a lot fewer buttons being pushed by either the shopper or the cashier. A beacon will connect with your phone which will recognize the appropriate app you're using and it will recognize you on the iPad without you having to do anything," says Mr. Ciabarra. "Check out will be as seamless as the cashier clicking on the profile picture of the person they see and the shopper accepting the payment request on their phone and boom they're done."
"When you walk into a store" Mr. Ciabarra explained, "your profile information will show up for retail employees who can quickly see your purchase history, what your preferences are and a recommendation engine with all the information the retail employee needs to greet you by name and assist in your shopping experience."
This is what the promise of beacon technology has always been. The trouble is that without connecting the beacon technology to the back-end (cloud) point of sale system, then the full power of the data owned by the retailer can not be unleashed to improve the shopping experience. This is the problem that Revel Systems has been working non-stop to solve.
Extending the Cloud-Based Platform with APIs
Revel Systems realized that in order to grow faster and at scale, they need to deploy the power of the developer community. This is what they have rolled out this year. "Allowing outside developers to customize individual needs of retailers leveraging our platform would allow hundreds of different applications at scale. We have partners who have created several freemium applications around loyalty, analytics and different forms of enterprise data integration which any of our retailers and restaurants can easily deploy," says Mr. Ciabarra. "This will ensure that our entire ecosystem evoloves with the changing needs of our customers."
And that's really the point. No matter how good your technology deployment is today, the one thing you can bet on is that new innovation will drive the shopping experience of tomorrow. By opening up their APIs to their developer partner community, Revel Systems ensures their platform will continue to grow with the changing needs of retailers and restaurants, further empowering employees and delighting shoppers.