The ISV revolution
How Independent Software Vendors are changing things online – and on the high -street
A partnership for the future
When I shop online, I don’t have to wait to be served. With a click of a button I can compare prices, browse multiple products, check independent reviews, save my preferences and guarantee a personalised experience the next time I visit. I am a part of the ‘on demand’ generation whose higher expectations are transforming the way traditional retailers and hospitality providers offer their services.
Yet the traditional retail outlet is far from dead. Although online has impacted on high street sales with fewer visits and lower consumer spending, there is still real demand for positive in-store and at table experiences. Our research shows that sixty-two per cent of transactions still take place in-store i as people seek the physical, tactile and social experience of visiting retail and hospitality destinations. At the same time the most successful e-tailers remain those that maintain a strong and visible presence both online and offline. Indeed a number of leading ‘pure e-tailers’, for example Amazon, are cementing a presence in the high street by opening new stores.
Well integrated omni-channel retailing
Almost half of European consumers cite a well-integrated multi-channel experience as essential when making shopping choices.ii According to Deloitte, 95% of consumers plan to use click-and-collect as part of their holiday shopping this year. People want to visit the high street, but only where the in-store experience embraces the best learnings from online – speed of service, informed choice, variety, value and personalisation. This is the challenge faced by retailers and hospitality providers – and it comes down to technology and innovation to deliver it.
Retailers and hospitality providers cannot afford complacency during this period of change, as more complex consumer buying behaviours, innovations in retail technology and newly available applications are shaping a new online and offline landscape. Both in-store and at table, businesses are looking for new ways to attract customers and entice them to spend more offline. Consumers no longer want to queue to purchase, they want informed sales staff and to pay instantly once their purchase decision is made. Yet how can this be achieved?
I firmly believe that the solution lies in using existing technology in-store – such as the receipt printer – as a basis to support innovative applications and services aimed at enhancing the shopper experience. Point of Sale (POS) peripherals like receipt printers are now becoming intelligent hubs that can link and integrate an infinite number of exciting new applications and services within retail and hospitality environments.
ISVs: Facilitating an integrated and seamless customer experience
This is where the Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are playing a role in helping to bridge the gap between online and offline through the development of new service solutions that function through the smart POS hardware system that is already installed.
It is a two-way relationship with retailers and hospitality providers, guiding ISVs on the necessary solutions and ISVs producing services for businesses to on-board with their existing hardware.
And these solutions can be game-changing for the retail and hospitality sectors. When fitted with the right software, receipt printers have the ability to carry out online and in-store transactions, provide tailored information to hand-held devices operated by staff and enable more interaction between staff and customers.
ISVs and hardware companies collaborating
With demand shifting to integrated solutions, collaboration between ISVs and hardware manufacturing companies such as Epson provides invaluable benefits for the retail and hospitality sectors. These include ease of use of multiple platforms, integration of technology and more staff mobility and substantial savings in terms of reduced interventions and maintenance. In addition, the IT solutions are enhancing purchasing and stock systems, content systems, customer databases and also control POS networks (for example, on the intelligent POS printer hub TM-T700-iHub and intelligent receipt printer TM-T88V-iHub).
Perhaps most importantly in today’s business landscape, these applications are enabling businesses to manage and gain insight into increasingly complex and interlinked variables such as the brand range, consumer behaviour and lifestyles, ultimately allowing better customer interaction and more efficient business management.
Giordano Lovine is the CEO of Kir, an Italian ISV specialising in the development of IT solutions for the retail industry. I think it’s interesting to note what he says about designing a solution; that there are three essentials to bear in mind: globalisation – meaning, ease of getting the system up and running in other locations globally – followed by flexibility and ease of integration.
Kir has developed Power2Retail – a scalable suite that manages a retailer’s processes and commercial information on an HTML5 platform. This means it can use the web even when not connected. This system is hardware independent and easy to integrate in all devices, therefore adaptable to all existing infrastructure. It enables mobility and savings in hardware investment which are two important considerations for retailers.
This theme is also core to the work of Crunch IT, a Danish ISV that provides IT solutions for table booking and online ordering platforms for restaurants, bars and cafes. I recently read a quote from its Managing Partner, Mathias Maimann, who said, “We need to provide simple and more standardised solutions – in order to be valuable, a solution must be easily accessible and integrated in the restaurant online platform. Everyone must be able to understand and use it otherwise it has no benefit to business. Our solution is successful because it does not involve downloading apps but instead provides solutions that are readily available on the browser, saving a lot of time. It is about delivering intelligent IT solutions in an easy and accessible way to create the perfect eco-system where the customer can order and pay without delay.”
Future proof your business operations
For the business of tomorrow, the integration of online and offline will be key in optimising customer conversion and brand engagement. Retailers are operating in an increasingly competitive environment and demand is shifting towards integrated technology solutions.
It’s clear to me that web-based POS systems demonstrate many benefits by merging the offline and the online experience. Across the globe, businesses are beginning to see the benefits of investing in multichannel solutions that enable a more tailored customer experience with easy to integrate solutions that require minimal maintenance and have minimal downtime. At Epson, we are committed to providing reliable products that reduce the risk of system downtime and provide a firm basis for delivering innovative applications in both retail and hospitality.
As consumer expectations continue to grow, so too will the need to innovate. A multitude of new uses, technologies, apps and IT solutions have already been created and are still to be created. However, this will happen only through close and coordinated collaboration between retailers, hospitality providers, Independent Software Vendors and hardware manufacturers.
i Epson, 2015