31 October 2018

by Paul HUDSON, Business Development Manager, AURES UK

If you believe your retail history, Cyber Monday started almost by accident. In the early 2000s, US retailers started to notice a spike in online sales the Monday after Black Friday weekend – the traditional American sales event over the Thanksgiving holiday. A trend driven by holidaymakers returning to work and still hunting for a bargain, the term Cyber Monday was coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005.

In 2014, with Black Friday by now an increasingly global and digital phenomenon, online sales on Cyber Monday outstripped those on Black Friday itself for the first time. Last year, total US sales on Cyber Monday beat those on Black Friday by some 43%.

So, while Black Friday still has the profile, for retailers Cyber Monday is now equally important, if not more so. With Black Friday 2018 fast approaching on November 23rd, retailers effectively get two bites of the cherry and many are expected to hold off on their biggest online promotions until Monday 26th to cash in on the digital sales rush.

But as all of this is happening online, can you expect Cyber Monday in your store to just be another day’s trading? Not quite, and the savviest retailers will be doing all they can to closely align their stores with their digital channels to maximise promotional opportunities and deliver the best possible service and choice throughout the Black Friday period.

Key to achieving this is integration of eCommerce and POS. With digital commerce increasingly important to retailers, most POS software suppliers now offer eCommerce platforms that sync easily with EPOS. This is a good idea in general for several reasons – for one, centralising sales data across channels leads to better inventory management. You can cut out duplication of effort, for example by ensuring products input into a POS database are automatically shared and uploaded to the eCommerce site.

On Cyber Monday, the biggest online sales day of the year, having this tight-knit relationship between POS and eCommerce can really come into its own. Here are three reasons why.

Complete visibility on all sales data

Things move quickly over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. If things go the way you plan, stock will be flying off the shelves and out of warehouses. Ideally, you want to be able to access data on inventory, orders and shipping in as close to real time as possible – if your store has just sold the last item in one particular range, you don’t want to over-sell by still showing it available online.

Whether you fulfil online orders from your store stock room or have a separate warehouse, it makes sense to use your EPOS terminals as the main hubs for inventory management across your operations. Products like the AURES YUNO and AURES SANGO are far more than glorified cash drawers, at their core they are powerful, fast, reliable CPUs with more than enough capacity to run the most sophisticated end-to-end retail management software. Using these as the hubs for your multi-channel operations not only helps to maximise visibility and intelligence across your operations at the busiest periods, it means you are getting extra value from your investment in the equipment.

‘Click-and-Collect’ fulfilment

Service and fulfilment is a key point of difference in online retail these days. The faster you can ship products to customers, the more convenient you can make delivery and the more options you give consumers, the more likely they will be to shop with you again and recommend your business to friends and family.

Come Cyber Monday, there will be people who don’t want to wait to receive the bargain they have just grabbed online, even until the next day. This is where click-and-collect comes into its own. More than three quarters of UK shoppers already use click-and-collect, and by 2025 it is predicted that it will account for 10% of all retail sales.

Click-and-collect is a great way to offer choice, convenience and rapid fulfilment to your customers come Cyber Monday, but it requires complete integration of eCommerce with POS. Your store needs to know exactly what is being ordered and reserved for collection in as close to real time as possible. If you run multiple stores, you need to direct online customers not only to the nearest store, but to the one with their item in stock.

If you are expecting a high volume of click-and-collect traffic, it may be advisable to set aside a dedicated EPOS terminal so you can minimise queues and ensure people can pick up their orders as quickly as possible. If you don’t have any terminals spare, one option is to have mobile POS tablets to hand for this purpose.

In-store experiences and special promotions

Ultimately, Cyber Monday (and Black Friday before it) is all about the promotions. Whether it is flash sales, double discounts for loyalty scheme members, targeted deals to your mailing list subscribers or special offers for new customers, the whole point is to get people spending.

Ecommerce, and the multiplication of channels online through social media, mobile, marketplaces like Amazon etc, has contributed to discounting and promotions becoming increasingly sophisticated and carefully targeted in recent years. One emerging trend is the use of online channels to try to tempt customers back through the doors and into store, where special experiences and superb offers await them. This again requires tight integration of online and POS.

You could, for example, offer extra discounts for in-store purchases compared to online orders, offer in-store only coupons you nevertheless distribute online, or hold special events for loyalty scheme members. What you need to make sure is, if a customer has received a voucher via an app or email, or signed up for a special deal online, that data is available at POS so redemption is seamless. This can be achieved by integrating CRM with both eCommerce and POS, by having digital codes that can be scanned at POS, or perhaps even by having a one-click push notification sent to the customer’s smartphone that they redeem as the sale is being processed.