What Indigo Knew About Retail 9 Years Ago
Back in 2003 when working for Indigo Books and Music as part of the Logistics team they were toying with; line busting – then a new concept. As technology has moved forward and increased customer interaction a lot has changed. The rise of mobile usage has caused retailers to use technology in a way which benefits the bottom line and increases customer satisfaction.
Technology such as social media, customer service and support, help desk, the rise of cloud infrastructure to facilitate transactions and commerce, provisioning infrastructure through the cloud have all increased during the last 9 years. A major innovation is the rise of mobile and consumer willingness to shop online and conduct business over the web. One of the reasons it may have not been understood was the perception of consumers then, what it provided and the convenience to customers were could have gained.
The concept was to take a radio frequency wireless device that connects to the LAN and consequently to the WAN of the organization. The RF acts as an automated data collection device. The interface was to be an extension of the POS system currently in place. Customers in line would be approached by an Indigo employee to complete the purchase through the RF device. The products were then scanned onto receipt that is part of the retail system. When each SKU is scanned it creates a line number as at the terminal itself. Additional SKU’s can then be added to the receipt, totalled with the appropriate taxes and possible discounts through coupons promotions etc. were deducted. The total for the receipt could then print wirelessly generating a receipt or printed through the thermal printer that is part of the RF device. These are the wireless RF terminals used in restaurants now to pay wirelessly for debit and credit card transactions. When a line was formed through busy periods such as Christmas and the Oprah Factor (This is where a product or service was mentioned on the Oprah Show and consequently caused a spike in demand, usually books or lifestyle products that Indigo retails. The consequence was that the increased demand had to be planned for through the category management of the retail system. This had increasing effect over all operations from planning to sourcing, managing lead times, handling transportation, forecasting by districts, warehouse delivery, disseminating to stores, receipt of products at the store level, putaway, complete the transaction from the POS and finally posting the transaction – this is basically the shortform of the order to pay cycle for Indigo then).
Customer perceptions then weren’t as liberated as they are now and consumers did not have the level of confidence in not only the system but security of the devices, the networks, security of banking information have all changed and advanced due to technology. The cloud, using smartphones, tablets and RF have changed perception and the willingness of accepting wireless ecommerce as an acceptable convenience item to speed the shopping experience. When customers line up and the SKUs are added to the receipts and printed out a line can quickly be decreased using the RF device. Welcome to the present.
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