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Articles from COMPUTER SYSTEMS / SOFTWARE (29 Articles)

Welcome to the POS retail evolution

In the ever-changing retail landscape, jewellers are demanding greater functionality when it comes to POS technology. EMILY MOBBS reports on how software suppliers are taking up the challenge.

Such has been written about how the jewellery industry is traditionally slower than other retail sectors to embrace new technology but it seems the tide is turning, at least when point-of-sale (POS) systems are involved.

POS technology gained a foothold in small retail businesses in the 1990s and, while the focus then might have been point of sale in the most literal way, jewellery businesses today require far more to succeed.

Rather than showing hesitation in software and technology updates, Malcolm Alderton, director of global operations of ARMS International Group, says jewellers now realise upgrades are essential to meeting the needs of an evolving retail environment.

“My experience shows jewellers have been accepting technology for a number of years and by necessity this is increasing,” he states. “Stock management used to be the single most important issue jewellers had to address but this has now been joined by the need to better manage their customers.”

Alderton, who founded ARMS more than 30 years ago, says the use of new technology is essential for customer management and building repeat business, and he notes, after all, that if jewellers don’t better look after their customers, someone else will.

Similarly, Swim Jewelry Software founder Raeleen Kaesehagen says using the right retail management system has become an increasingly important business decision for jewellers.

“The current attitude is jewellery retailers are feeling the pressure of staff costs, competition and lower margins,” she states. “They are looking for ways to tackle these challenges and stand apart. Using the right software allows jewellers to do more with less, to streamline and systemise, and to set their stores apart.”

Gordon McLister, Australasian manager of Retail Edge Consultants, adds, “Older software systems are starting to be dropped; the market place wants features for today.”

Meeting current demands

So what are jewellers requesting and how are retail management system distributors answering those calls?

McLister says many jewellers are asking for more technology, including the ability to remotely access data in real-time and have closer integration with suppliers.

“The software market is not just POS; it is the integration of retailers, suppliers, buying groups and more,” he explains.

One way that Retail Edge Consultants is helping to increase connectivity with suppliers is the Vendor Pulse feature, which McLister believes will be “massive” for retailers. The technology allows suppliers to view in-store sales and product stock levels in real-time, the idea being that they can keep stock up and help retailers maximise sales.

“We have been running for 12 months with one Australian supplier and the results for all parties are excellent,” McLister says, adding that the system has also been introduced to the US market.

DistributionMan is another feature that can help to improve integration between supplier and retailer. The tool “moves things” from one computer to another and is able to perform tasks such as transferring supplier product photos to a retailer’s system.

In addition, he notes tablet and mobile phone functionality as well as website integration as being high on jewellers’ wish lists.

Kaesehagen and Alderton draw attention to these features too.

“In this era of searching the web for everything, an internet presence is vital,” Alderton says. “Similarly, using the latest technology such as iPads and touch screen POS in a bricks-and-mortar store is necessary for a professional look with younger customers.”

In response to user feedback, ARMS will soon release a POS system specifically designed for tablets.

“Propelling jewellers into the 21st century, this POS is designed to enable sales people to better service their customers without leaving the customer at the counter,” Alderton explains, adding the offering can also be used on touch-screen POS units as well as with a traditional mouse, keyboard and monitor set-up. 

Other recent ARMS updates include better integration with the latest RFID (radio frequency identification) technology and functions that make it easier to export stock and customer details to websites as well as import customer data from websites, according to Alderton.

Kaesehagen says Swim has introduced several new features in the past year. One of the most significant is Magento Integration, which allows for the “seamless” integration between the Swim system and a retailer’s website.

“This integration saves the jeweller money in building websites as no programming is needed and the sales, customers and stock are completely handled by Swim,” Kaesehagen explains. “This also means the jeweller only has to deal with one system with all sales, stock and inventory loaded, rather than maintaining a separate database.”

Another feature she emphasises is the integration with Jewelsure, which enables a jeweller to instantly quote and process insurance from the sales screen.

Forgotten gems

Kaesehagen says POS loosely describes many types of systems, from simple sales systems to comprehensive business-management systems that cover a myriad of business functions such as stock, staff and supplier management, tracking of repairs and even quotes and valuations.

Given the scope of today’s offerings, it would seem logical that jewellers may ignore or forget to take advantage of some existing features.

Kaesehagen says jewellers often disregard the marketing functionality of their POS systems, which she believes is a mistake.

“We notice the stores that utilise the marketing functions within the system far outperform the stores that do not,” she explains. “For example, one customer sent out their first SMS campaign and had received $7,000 in sales within four hours of the SMS being sent. Another increased their sales for the month by 34 per cent with their first SMS, while another jeweller made a $39,000 sale because he sent a reminder to the husband of a valued customer with a ‘happy birthday’ suggestion in the wife’s finger size that matched with her existing jewellery.”

Alderton also lists text messaging as one of the functions often overlooked by jewellers that could be utilised to service customers more effectively.

“Auto text messaging and emails save time and money,” he says. “Using text messaging directly from ARMS software enables better customer management functions for everything from repair-pick-up notifications to purchase-reminder messages for anniversaries, spouse birthdays and more,” he says.

Alderton adds that RFID technology can help remove human error when stocktaking, while imaging can be used to up-sell matching items and also give sales certificates a professional look.

Back to the future

Technology never stays stagnant so what can jewellers expect next for POS software?

“There are huge features yet to come,” McLister says. “These will revolve around managing processes within the business. For example, action on items approaching the retailer’s ‘fastseller’ drop-off point, delinquent lay-by management, staff rostering, interface to other services such as insurance and also seamless movement of industry data to all parties.”

Alderton states retail software is continuously evolving to adapt to new technologies and that ARMS has two major developments under wraps.

For Swim, Kaesehagen says ‘intelligent’ reporting will be a feature the supplier will look at implementing in 2017. “This is where you can simply ask questions in a chat-room style rather than having to trawl through reports to find answers,” she explains.

“For example, one might ask, ‘What were my sales last month and what was the profit?’ and a response might be ‘$60,000 in sales, $30,000 gross profit, $6,000 net profit.’ This is a very powerful tool for all jewellers, especially those who don’t like looking through pages of reports and can’t quite get a handle on the numbers.”

Retail management software should be making the lives of retailers easier, not more complicated. According to suppliers, independent jewellery businesses have a clear head-start on larger businesses in this department.

“Smaller retailers can adapt to day-to-day trends more quickly than ‘big’ retailers who plan their marketing months out. It’s like turning around a row boat compared with an aircraft carrier,” Alderton says.

Kaesehagen concurs, stating it is now smaller retailers that have the edge.

“Many years ago, big retailers had a distinct advantage as the software systems they used were not affordable for local jewellers,” she says. “Today, however, Swim and other software products are affordable. This is a major opportunity for local jewellers who can move quicker and are more nimble than big retailers.”

Ultimately, Kaesehagen says jewellers should look to software to give themselves a competitive advantage over larger retailers. Technology is about working smarter, not harder, and the latest instalments of POS systems are helping jewellers do just that.

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Emily Mobbs • Former Editor

Emily Mobbs is editor of Jeweller. She has more than 8 years' experience in trade publishing and reports on various aspects of the jewellery industry.

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