It’s the one that everyone talks about

A chat with Retail Pro International, provider of the gold-standard retail management software, on trends, platforms and retail.

By Chris Petersen | Retail Merchandiser

Retail Pro Prism

Before the Internet, multichannel retailing was something known to only a handful of major national retailers, and the channels were limited to primarily brick and mortar and catalog sales. Today, however, consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to how they interact with their favorite retailers. The prevalence of m-commerce and e-commerce purchasing has become commonplace right along with stopping in at their favorite stores.  This new consumer landscape has created some significant challenges, as well as generated numerous new opportunities for retailers.

The new basis for retail interaction with today’s consumers spans all channels for the retailer including, brick-and-mortar stores, catalog sales, a website or even through their smartphones. A retailer is now challenged with providing the same user experience across all channels to provide a seamless experience regardless of where the consumer may be engaged. At the same time, as more retailers court international customers through their online presence, they are exposed to added complexity in terms of international tax structures and fulfillment. Navigating this complexity alone, especially in today’s omni-connected world can be daunting to say the least. Having a partner in the game like leading global provider of retail management software, Retail Pro International(RPI), can make the task much more palpable.

For more than 25 years, RPI has provided retail management software solutions and platforms which cover point of sale, customer engagement, store operations and back-of-store management, and e-commerce, through its Retail Pro® products.  In recent years, Retail Pro International has become an even more important partner to its retail customers as retail strategy complexities started growing in geometric progression. “As businesses evolve in response to market needs and rapidly changing consumer expectations it becomes critical for the retailer to evolve their business, break down operational silos and adapt; that’s where we come in,” said Director of Marketing for RPI, Alexandra Frith.

 

Flexible Solutions

The native adaptability in Retail Pro is the reason Retail Pro International’s software platforms are used in more than 54,000 retail stores in over 95 countries, and the company continues to evolve to address the expansion and needs of retailers as they grow their businesses. Frith says the Retail Pro software is a perfect fit for growing retailers. Whether a retailer is just starting out or has an operation that spans many regions, including expansions as franchises, Retail Pro can address the complex needs the retailer will encounter across their business models.

Director of Product Strategy at RPI, Kevin Connor, says retailers have traditionally been forced to maintain one software platform for each ‘channel’ of their business – one platform for point of sale, one for e-commerce sales, one for mobile sales, etc. The Retail Pro platform, on the other hand, gives the retailer a platform that can support each of the channels with one integrated product suite. Retail Pro offers platforms that are both environment-agnostic and hardware platform-agnostic, allowing one product to create a more efficient management experience for the retailers and a more pleasant and predictable shopping experience for customers.

Frith says another major component of RPI and its expansive Partner service network for their customers is helping them translate trends into actionable retail strategies. For example, she says, last year many of the company’s customers and prospects were abuzz with the idea of omnichannel retailing. The concept surfacing everywhere in the media was the new buzzword then, without much more information about the details. “We found ourselves in many conversations about this new trend. It was almost an exercise in quelling fear because everyone wanted to know that they had the capability, but only a hand-full of retailers knew how it related specifically to their business,” Frith says.

The idea of omnichannel was prevalent in the retail world but had many definitions. For some of its major customers, Retail Pro worked closely with them to develop a concise definition of what omnichannel meant for that retailer. Then taking this plan, they developed a software experience using the Retail Pro platform that erased the borders between channels to create a seamless experience for shoppers that also fit the retailer in the most effective way.

Connor says the company’s flexible approach to retail management software allows the retailer to have the system that serves the needs across all environments. Whether a retailer is enlisting endless-aisle kiosks or embracing mobility to serve the clienteling needs of their customer engagements, they can do so. This is made possible by the company’s commitment to delivering one holistic system that ties together all aspects of retail into one seamless platform.

 

Global Reach

The company’s international DNA serves as a perfect platform for business. Frith stresses the company’s international expertise, saying Retail Pro provides world-class solutions to its customers around the globe, enabling borderless retailing. “That proves to be a huge strength to any retailer who aspires to be international,” she says.

Further highlighting this point, Connor says the majority of domestic retail software is based on the local tax regulations, limiting their applications in other markets. Retail Pro International’s solutions can support all tax structures around the world, he says, making it possible for retailers using Retail Pro to maintain one system for all geographies. “Something that we pride ourselves on, is seeing ourselves as part of the global retail community,” Connor says.

 

Still Growing

The retail community is a unified community. Today, the concept of borderless retail speaks not only to retailing across geographic borders, but also to disappearing borders between online and brick-and-mortar.  Brands want consistency of presence across markets; customers want the completeness of the shopping experience across channels.  Both require ongoing effective innovation. In addition to optimizing experiences, effective innovation also encourages adopting more efficient operations and procedures, positioning retailers to add value in two directions at once by streamlining costs and improving customer loyalty simultaneously.

“What we found was that our retail customers are adapting business models, adding retail channels, acquiring other brands, and otherwise expanding aggressively throughout North America and beyond,” Frith adds.  “We see this evolution as a primary catalyst for retail growth, and brands willing to take leadership in this area will be the most competitive over time.”

 

Posted in the March/April 2015 issue of Retail Merchandiser magazine.

See the original post  here.

ASICS Chooses Retail Pro® for Its South East Asian Expansion Strategy

Retail Pro International (RPI), global provider of flexible retail management software, is pleased to announce that ASICS, a popular footwear retail brand, chose a Retail Pro® platform over its previous POS solution for their expansion in South East Asia.

Dubai, UAE March 4, 2015  ASICS Asia Pte Ltd, the SEA regional arm of ASICS Corporation, a leading designer and manufacturer of running shoes, is expanding in South East Asia and needed retail point of sale software that would:

  • Centralize store operations
  • Ensure pricing transparency and supply chain visibility
  • Guarantee the consistency of product availability across the markets.

ASICS chose Retail Pro® for its all-in-one, feature-rich POS software platform, with its easily customizable workflows, security and central control.

“Anima Sana In Corpore Sano, meaning ‘A Sound Mind in a Sound Body,’ is the old Latin phrase from which ASICS is derived and the fundamental platform on which the brand still stands,” said ASICS Group Financial Controller, Maureen Neo. “Retail Pro is clearly a sound product in a sound company with its quality and global presence–over 54,000 stores with impressive clientele in over 95 countries.”

ASICS chooses Retail Pro to centralize its store operations.

ASICS chooses Retail Pro to centralize its store operations.

Retail Pro’s® flexible design, easy setup and fast roll-out capabilities, combined with the local expert team at Integrated Retail, a Retail Pro Business Partner in the region, allowed for a quick implementation. With aggressive roll-out targets and region-wide support requirements, RPI’s proven support network across Asia with accessible locations in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand is critical for ASICS’s retail expansion strategy. Other retail software providers are unable to guarantee the same adoption speed and level of support.

“RPI’s global support network of Business Partners helps our customers tailor Retail Pro to their particular operations, so it’s an exact match for their business needs,” said RPI’s VP for MEA and Asian Markets, Bevin Manian. “As market needs evolve, our customers respond, and local Business Partner experts are there to guide them through the adaptation process, so they aren’t abandoned in their customizations or expansion across channels or geography.”

Retail Pro International and Integrated Retail look forward to many years of supporting ASICS for their continued success in footwear, fitness apparel and accessories retail.

For more information about ASICS, visit www.asics.com

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About Retail Pro International

Retail Pro International (RPI) is a global leader in retail management software that is recognized world-wide for rich functionality, multi-national capabilities, and unparalleled flexibility. For over 25 years, RPI has innovated retail software solutions to help retailers optimize business operations and have more time to focus on what really matters — cultivating customer engagement and capitalizing on retail’s trends. Retail Pro® is the chosen software platform for omnichannel strategy by serious retailers everywhere. To learn more, visit www.retailpro.com

Local Gift Shop Continuously Evolves with Retail Pro Analytics, Gives Back to Community

In the historical town of Lexington, Mass., retailers walk a fine line between respecting tradition and embracing modern business practices.CY_WhiteSignLg Crafty Yankee, a fine gift shop located right where “the shot heard round the world”was launched, started using Retail Pro as its retail management solution in 2000, leveraging its robust functionality to transform what originally was a sleepy little business into a vibrant, charitable part of the community. Kathy Fields, owner of Crafty Yankee, has a rich background in retail. She had worked in senior positions at Dillard’s and Federated Department Stores before taking a (very) early retirement in her mid-forties. But her retirement didn’t go quite as planned. Kathy Fields bought Crafty Yankee from its founders in 1994, wanting to take on a business that would free up her time and allow her to give back to those less fortunate.

 

Embracing Modern Business Practices

Shortly after the acquisition, she recognized the need to put in a computer system. Initially, she opened a couple satellite stores and networked computers so she could be away from the store—perhaps enjoy a vacation—and still be in touch remotely. Business was growing but Fields eventually realized she needed to consolidate her business into one location and, to be successful, have a thorough understanding of which merchandise was selling and when it was bought. Knowing those sales trends would give her a concrete understanding of what was going on in her business so she could offer popular products and streamline inventory. CY-SpringStoreFront.Best (1024x683)

 

Using Analytics to Reshape the Store

Crafty Yankee found Retail Pro’s analytical capabilities exceptionally valuable in accomplishing this end. “By having good computer information, I can constantly reshape the store,”said Fields. “We must change with the customer: Patterns, age, tastes.” Retail Pro 9 gave Fields tools to analyze Crafty Yankee’s $1 million business by key segments. The store has been using Retail Pro 9 since 2012 and Fields credits the software with contributing to the store’s consistent, healthy growth despite a stagnant overall economy. Knowing what sells—and what doesn’t—is critical to every retailer and Crafty Yankee has adopted an analytical method with Retail Pro.   No guesswork here: “I like to analyze my business in lots of different segments. It’s important to me to start from the top. Let’s say we had a 20% increase last month. Where did that come from? Jewelry? Glass? Pottery? Once I see the trend in the data, I can break it down by vendor or resources. And I can compare that data to last year’s.”

 

A Technology Update that Made a Difference

None of that could have happened if Crafty Yankee had remained with its original retail management platform, CraftShop, which she started using in 1995. Much of the data was difficult to extract and it required quite a bit of manual work. “What I liked from the beginning with Retail Pro was that they saw what I had with the CraftShop system. It was pretty complicated,”said Fields.  Realizing she needed a more robust system, she started researching other software solutions, finally determining that Retail Pro was the best fit for her needs. “I have thousands of items and people would tell me, ‘You’re going to have to re-enter all that information.’And I said, ‘I don’t think so!’” CY-Interior Scarves

 

Targeted Growth that Enables Philanthropy

The Retail Pro platform, together with Fields’ business acumen, positioned her gift emporium for rapid, targeted growth. “I can learn about my business on any day of the week, as well as a specific date of business. I can compare Mother’s Day, Easter, wedding seasons.” I’m looking across the information in a lot of different ways: Top producers by vendor. Who is downtrending? Who is trending up? Our other system was just not as granular; jewelry for example, can be subcategorized. I can put more criteria in the system, which allows me to analyze each item,”Fields said. “We’ve been so successful because of the good computer information I can analyze. We are able to constantly reshape the store. If I hadn’t changed it, year after year, based on the information I get from the Retail Pro solution, the store would be out of business.” And what about the idea of giving back to the community? Crafty Yankee sells a number of items where most, if not all, of the purchasing price is donated to charity. Sometimes, retirement is overrated.

To learn more about Crafty Yankee, visit http://www.CraftyYankee.com.

To learn more about the Certified Retail Pro Business Partner supporting Crafty Yankee, JD Associates, visit http://www.jdapos.com/

Announcing Swarm Portal: World’s First iBeacon Device for Retail SMBs

With the rise of ecommerce and connected consumers, it has become crucial that brick and mortar stores be equipped with similar tools that have helped ecommerce stores easily measure their success. Our partner Swarm recently announced the Swarm Portal foot traffic counter, the newest addition to its portfolio of smart devices. Portal measures customer traffic entering your store, delivering the data instantly to the Swarm mobile app and web dashboard. Designed with the small to medium business owner in mind, Portal works right out of the box and syncs over Bluetooth to deliver insightful data on any device, anytime.

For Retail Pro customers, Portal automatically syncs your point-of-sale data to Swarm’s app. This means you’ll be able to monitor not only foot traffic, but also conversion rates. With Swarm and Retail Pro, you’ll also be able to set traffic or revenue goals and monitor results in real time.

Here are three ways measuring foot traffic can help grow your business:

1) Understand if you’re not getting all the sales you should be by comparing sales results to the traffic opportunity in your store

2) Help you schedule staff better by knowing exactly when your store is full of customers and when it might be slow

3) Know if your training, merchandising and advertising efforts are making a difference by watching their impact in real-time

Portal is available from participating Retail Pro Business Partners.

Retail Pro showcases full-function Retail Pro Prism POS at NRF Convention

At the National Retail Federation's (NRF) Annual Convention and EXPO, nicknamed "Retail's BIG Show," Retail Pro is showing off the most comprehensive mobile point of sale system in the industry – Retail Pro Prism. Unlike other mobile POS software, Retail Pro Prism offers full POS functionality across all devices, including both mobile and desktop machines. For the first time, businesses don't have to sacrifice features for mobility.

Multifunctional and flexible POS retail management systems
With all the capabilities of a desktop system, full-featured mobile POS systems enable clerks to be away from the sales counter without leaving behind any tools. That frees them to complete other tasks, like arranging displays and assisting shoppers, while still being fully available for all patrons. One of the key drivers of mobile POS systems is the increasing need to interact with people in the aisle for the purpose of better customer service and to be more competitive for sales, concluded Joe Skorupa for RIS News.

As the leading POS software, Retail Pro Prism gives businesses the greatest flexibility to tailor a system perfectly to their needs and business model. Retail Pro Prism can be deployed across iOS, Windows, Android and even mini devices, which means that companies can select hardware based on their image and needs, and they can implement Retail Pro Prism without needing to train employees to use new platforms. 

Retail Pro Prism fulfills retail industry needs
According to the 2014 IHL/RIS Store Systems Study, 30 percent of retailers plan to adopt tablets or non-rugged handheld devices for POS in the next 12 months, and one of their main priorities is a unified transaction engine. In other words, it's essential for retailers to have a POS system that provides an integrated record of all purchases, including ecommerce and mobile POS commerce. The expansion of omnichannel retail marketing has caused unified POS systems to be a necessity.

Mobile POS systems are redefining customer engagement in stores, according to a separate RIS study. The study found that retailers expect measurable benefits in terms of saving sales, improving customer convenience, reducing long lines, and increasing customer engagement. The biggest areas of need include connectivity, device forms, security, and easy adoption, according to the source – and these are just the problem areas that Retail Pro Prism mitigates.

The NRF Convention takes place in New York City from January 12-15 and the EXPO is held January 13-14.

Most millennials will perform Internet research this holiday shopping season

Black Friday recently swept through multiple retail locations, and more so than ever, shoppers were ready with facts about their favorite products – millennials in particular. According to a recent Google survey, 95 percent of the generation likely researched items online before arriving at stores or completing their ecommerce transactions, and this practice will continue throughout the rest of the holiday shopping season. Many of these young consumers sought information online, but some (40 percent) looked into discounts and more in-depth knowledge even as they browsed through brick-and-mortar stores.

Meeting the needs of these savvy, ecommerce-friendly customers may take a shift in how merchants run their businesses, from how they approach their marketing to in-store operations. Unlike years past, TV and catalogs are growing less important, while a strong Web presence might improve sales. 

To better understand the millennial customer and how retailers are engaging with this growing demographic, Retail Pro and Merchant Warehouse will be holding the Millennial Holiday Shopping Trends Survey. By pairing this with a survey focused on millennial respondents, Retail Pro will help merchants derive greater insight into the generation's thinking and habits in order to improve the overall shopping experience. 

Retail Pro Business Intelligence transforms information into actionable strategies

Every transaction, customer interaction and delivery provides merchants with another data point about their operations. However, this information must be followed with action to be useful. Knowing how all the details add together can be difficult, but with Retail Pro Business Intelligence, the whole process becomes much easier by letting decision-makers know which details to focus on to improve all levels of their organization. 

To discover how Retail Pro Business Intelligence can assist with better strategy-making decisions, merchants should attend this week's webinar and learn about the solution's powerful capabilities. The webinar will take place tomorrow, November 13, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m PDT. Registration information can be found at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/504336090.

Neil McKeown, Product Manager for Retail Pro Business Intelligence and Retail Pro E-Commerce, will be leading the webinar and explaining how the platform can enhance merchants' processes and procedures. He will discuss how its features can streamline workflow and the point of sale, improve collaboration between personnel and also be customized for large and small retailers alike.  

Retail software expanding into the Saudi Arabian market

The importance of retail software is taken as a given in some markets, but in many parts of the world, its potential benefits are not as widely known or implemented. Waseem Naif, CEO and founder of Retail Technology, recently addressed how technology is changing the retail landscape in Saudi Arabia during an interview with Iqtisad Al-Mamlaka – the Kingdom's Economy.

As Retail Pro's exclusive distributor in the region, Naif has witnessed the way point of sale systems can transform the industry. While most international businesses deploy software solutions, this practice is not yet as widespread throughout Saudi Arabia.

"There are companies in Saudi Arabia that still work in the old, traditional way without computer systems, even though they desperately need them," Naif said.

Because of this, many merchants are missing out on the positive impact that retail software can have on their companies. Naif explained that some are just not aware of the benefits these solutions can have on their enterprises, such as potentially doubling their profits due to the efficiency and productivity possible through the technology.

Create an environment of expertise
As some retailers have yet to institute software solutions to their store operations, Naif pointed out that there is a considerable market for the technology's expansion throughout the region. However, he advised that merchants should be thoroughly familiar with the point of sale system that they are selling, and to provide transparency about all levels of the offering to foster a sense of confidence and trust in the product. To achieve this, he recommended that businesses create specializations for each aspect of the technology, as this strategy his helped his own company's success.

"The most important elements of success for any organization in this field of business is a comprehensive awareness and full understanding of the details and capabilities of the program it is promoting, not to mention maintaining credibility and professionalism with all clients," Naif​ told the publication.

Obstacles to watch for
As important as technology is, Naif highlighted that skilled staff members are another key part to implementing best in class retail solutions in Saudi Arabia. As he has expanded his company throughout the region, Naif has had to invest in training programs that help qualify employees for installing his retail solutions. While many Saudi youth have some familiarity with software and technology, it is not as widespread as Naif has needed. This has been one of the few challenges he has faced, but he noted that he remains optimistic and determined to continue growing his operations across the country.

"As you know, investment in the human element is one of the most significant elements of success for any organization," Waif said.

Technology and the necessary support for it will continue to play a prominent role in the retail industry, as Naif highlighted. Worldwide, a number of opportunities and markets for expansion exist, with many only recently tapped into. Merchants can benefit immensely from software solutions, but partners should be able to offer both information and trust when promoting point of sale platforms.

Retail Pro Business Intelligence streamlines all operations

Merchants handle a plethora of details and information on a daily basis, whether it's in the form of customer preferences, inventory processes or sales orders, just to name a few. Keeping track of this data can become an overwhelming task if retailers don't have the right procedures and tools in place. Fortunately, retail software such as Retail Pro's Business Intelligence provides merchants with a comprehensive platform that can perform a variety of operational functions to gather data and turn it into actionable information for brands.

Merchants that are interested in learning more about Retail Pro Business Intelligence and what it can do for their organizations can sign up for this week's webinar that is dedicated to the solution's features and capabilities. The online event will take place on Thursday, November 14, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. PDT. Registration information can be found at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/504336090.

Presenting the webinar will be Neil McKeown, Product Manager for Retail Pro Business Intelligence and Retail Pro E-Commerce. McKeown will be hosting a live demonstration of the platform to show attendees how the technology can develop reports for a variety of processes, including point of sale, merchandising and inventory, among other functions.