19 September 2018

by Tamara Haslam, UK Sales Director

As London Fashion Week draws to a close, designers and buyers will be heading off with their heads full of inspiration for the latest on-trend styles and looks.

Away from the catwalk in shops up and down the country, it isn’t just the clothes that have to stand out. Fashion retailers nowadays realise that style and brand provenance, or even price, cannot guarantee keeping customers walking through your door. What really counts is the quality of service you provide.

According to one survey in the US, the retail industry has a customer churn rate of 27%, the second highest of all sectors studied. More than half of the consumers quizzed said the chief reason they would not revisit a store was poor service.

We used to define poor service as things like sales assistants being rude or unhelpful, or staff taking too long checking the back rooms for additional stock items. Not anymore. Customers will now judge a store’s service to be inadequate if they feel they have to wait too long at a till. In today’s digital world, we should hardly be surprised at this – if they are shopping online, 40% of people will abandon a site if a page takes more than three seconds to load.

As people bring these expectations for instant service into stores, fashion retailers are having to adjust. They now need POS solutions that can meet their customer’s expectations, that are fast and reliable at checkout, that integrate seamlessly with other business systems to streamline operations, that contribute overall to a welcoming, enjoyable shopping experience.

We asked five fashion retail and POS industry insiders to share their views on what makes the ideal modern EPOS.

Looks great, performs even better

Sandie Beaverstock, area manager at women’s fashion retailer Apricot, summed up the views of many retail clients when she spoke to us about the installation of AURES SANGO terminals in all 12 of the company’s UK stores. “We need [EPOS] systems to be quick, easy to use and most importantly to be efficient,” she said. “We also wanted a system that had better speed to be able to serve customers more efficiently.”

Sandie believes the touchscreen interface on the SANGOs is a major advantage for speed and efficiency in store. “Staff find them easier to use considering todays mobile phone technology, they are all used to touch screens. They have less equipment so help with PCI training and knowledge of the set up.”

Alongside performance, Sandie also believes it is important that the modern EPOS system fits in with the aesthetic appeal of the store. “We wanted to gain work space by having the system all built in meaning less wires and equipment at the till point,” she said. “We also wanted the set up to blend well with the visual look of our stores. Being able to have [the SANGOs] in different colours was great.”

The importance of looking good is a view shared by Tanguy Baulin, IT retail manager of Swiss women’s ready-to-wear brand TALLY WEiJL. “The modern and slim look of the AURES SANGO terminal fits in well with the fashion world of our brand, unlike the previous POS systems, which were not very ergonomic and too bulky on our sales counters,” he said.

Tanguy also sees the option of adding a customer-facing screen as a big bonus. “The dual-screen system of the AURES hardware allows digital display applications at the till, which is an advantage for queue management and customer loyalty programs.”

For Kristal Jones, COO and director of luxury gentleman’s fashion brand Emma Willis, a key part of the company’s in-store EPOS set up is its ability to integrate directly with wider business systems, particularly at the brand’s factory. “We use a stock management system to control the stock in our Jermyn Street [London] shop, as we have our own factory which can make stock by supply and demand,” said Kristal.

“The stock system enables us to see our best sellers and ensure we reach the customer’s demand. This can be managed from our HQ with the cloud-based system, which also helps with cash flow, ensuring that we do not over stock or under stock.”

Emma Willis runs the Genesis cloud-based stock management platform developed by retail specialist Esperus, which includes a PoS module operated in its London store on AURES YUNO tills. Bambos Chambi, technical operations manager at Esperus, said: “Within Genesis we offer a multitude of modules such as EPOS control which is a real-time link to the tills whatever the geographical location may be. The real-time element allows the management structure to run sales reports at a touch of a button from within Genesis or from any smart phone or device.

“With the YUNO specifically, we have found that the speed is exceptional and these days aesthetics play a key role with any till hardware decision. We can safely say that the YUNO looks great and performs even better.”

Intelligence-led solutions

Another retail EPOS specialist which emphasises the importance of reporting and data visibility in its solutions is Top to Toe. Offering a platform that combines EPOS, eCommerce, stock control and reporting, Top to Toe has developed an intelligence-led solution tailor made for fashion and footwear retail.

Sales and marketing manager Adam Bloom said: “Many small independent retailers still use pen and paper, updating records manually. This keeps accurate records but is tedious and time consuming. On the other hand, with a non-specialist retail EPOS platform, it is the product entry and size/colour reporting that is tedious and time consuming. Imagine entering stock per SKU rather than per product line.

“What is unique about Top to Toe is the way data is handled and presented. There are systems which include size / colour matrix views as options, but you still have to navigate through various menus to get what you want.

“Being able to access data in an intuitive format, in a single click, whether it’s on a product level or size/colour level, literally saves hours per month compared to a manual ‘pen and paper’ approach, or a non-size/colour system. The Top to Toe UX (user experience) is built to give clients the customisable reports they want, putting the requirements of clothing and footwear retailers to the fore.”