Small business retailers are often left on the sidelines when it comes to watching the technology that is made available to the “big boys” of retailing. Solutions used in retail stores include high-performance Point-of-Sale systems, mobile devices, sophisticated software tools, self-service kiosks, and digital signage. These are all valuable tools when it comes to providing a higher level of customer service, managing inventory, or simply to ensure that the business is managed efficiently. It’s no secret smaller retailers face the same challenges. They need to run their business efficiently and provide a high level of customer service. But oftentimes these new technologies come with a price tag that is simply out of reach for small businesses, and usually requires technical resources or infrastructure that just aren’t available, affordable, or practical.
At AML, we’re addressing some of these challenges. For example, we manufacture a barcode scanning mobile computer that comes with software that allows the retailer to receive and count their inventory quickly and accurately, at a cost of less than $650 per device. Our LDX10 mobile computer comes with seven pre-loaded applications, along with software that allows the user to modify the existing applications, or write a new one from scratch. Developing an application to conduct audits to randomly check product price labeling, could be done in a matter of minutes… by anyone. They don’t have to be a software developer or even “tech savvy” for that matter.
Developing an application to conduct audits to randomly check product price labeling, could be done in a matter of minutes… by anyone.
To address the customer service challenge, most “big box” stores have the luxury of “price-checkers” located throughout the store that allows customers to scan the barcode on a product to determine its price. Yes, both big and small business retailers have a universal problem with product price labeling. Either the product wasn’t marked or the label was removed. Maybe the retailer relies on shelf labels but the product was moved. Maybe the price was marked down, but this product was missed. There are a number of reasons why price-checkers come in handy and NOTHING is more frustrating than not being able to find a sales associate to look up the price or having to go to the checkout lane to find out. Unfortunately, price-checkers have historically been a luxury for the big-box stores because they had to be connected to a store server where the price and description information was stored. This meant hardware installation, network connectivity, software integration, and a decent investment.
The small retailer can provide that same price verification service to their customers.
What about the small business retailers that just want a single price-checker in their store… just one? And they don’t have the resources or the money to connect and integrate it into their POS system? AML has the answer in our Phoenix mini-kiosk and StoreScan software. For a one-time investment of around $1,200, the small retailer can provide that same price verification service to their customers. Data is installed onto the Phoenix kiosk simply by loading the price and description information onto a USB flash drive, installing the flash drive into the USB port, and then running the StoreScan software. The data is transferred from the flash drive into the StoreScan software and it’s ready to go. Remove the flash drive and use it to update the database as often as is necessary. Customers will have the exact same experience they have in the big-box stores, but the retailer will have made a minimal investment to provide it, and they will have freed up their sales associates for more important tasks.
As the business grows, StoreScan is scalable along with it. This price verification software is also available on the Monarch Enterprise Self-Service Kiosk and KDT3 Multimedia Kiosk. Small retailers that are expanding their business can upgrade from using the USB flash drive to using a networked solution that allows for price or media updates to be made in real-time. Retailers are able to mix and match different kiosk hardware depending on specific needs for the store all while using the same StoreScan software.
Other than price-checking, customers are accustomed to seeing self-service checkout in big-box stores. Can this same luxury be afforded to smaller retailers? There are many variables small business owners would have to consider including security measures, optimizing the store layout, choosing the right hardware, and executing the software integration properly. If the goal is to provide a better customer experience in the most minimally invasive way possible are small-form factor kiosks the solution? Equipped with a magstripe and EMV reader, the Monarch self-service kiosk gives small business retailers the opportunity to test the concept in stores. A printer accessory can also be attached to the Monarch for receipts. Although small businesses may never be able to carve out a budget for full-size self-service checkout, implementing kiosk hardware that provides more convenience to customers is still possible.
Small retailers now have affordable options for technology in both “back-room” and “store-floor” applications that will improve their business and ultimately their bottom line. The number of locations and size of the store shouldn’t be a barrier that results in being left on the technology sideline.