Madigans self checkout

If you want to see retail technology in action, look no further than Madigans Court Spar forecourt on Antrim Road, Belfast, which has invested in technology in a big way, offering customers the option of self-checkouts, using electronic shelf-edge labels and also the Glory cash management closed-loop system.

Josie McKernan, operational manager at Charioteer Ltd, which owns Madigans Court, says one of the key factors to the success of the self-checkouts at Madigans is that they made sure there were no barriers for customers that would prevent them from using them.

“Customers can pay by card or cash, having the Glory cash management unit at each self-checkout enabled us to do this. Customers can pay for fuel, cigarettes, alcohol, PayPoint and Lottery all at these checkouts.

“There is always one member of staff supervising the four standalone self-checkouts, with two members of staff supervising at busy times. This means that we ensure customers can pay and leave quick and easily.

“We gave a lot of thought to the layout of the self-checkouts. Customers can clearly see where they need to go to scan their goods through, and we are on hand to assist them as soon as they need help. The self-checkouts have really helped us to be more convenient for our customers, as they now know that they won`t have to stand in a queue when they come to Madigans.”

And Josie says introducing self-checkouts hasn`t compromised customer service, in fact if anything it has helped to improve it. “There was a bit if hesitancy from some customers at the start, but we invested in having additional staff on to supervise the self-checkouts, so that they could educate those who were unsure and help build their confidence.

“We have had the self-checkouts installed now for eight months, and we are averaging 71% of all customer transactions through them. This is incredible, we had a goal of 65% and we have exceeded that already.”

She adds that having a continual staff presence at the self-checkouts is critical in managing theft. “Also, our layout helps, as the self-checkouts are not located beside the door and there is always another member of staff on the two manned tills. The manned tills overlook the self-checkouts, so staff have eyes on them too. This is combined with a defined theft prevention strategy that all team members know and follow, and it has meant that the introduction of self-checkouts has not resulted in increased loss through theft.”

Vars face

Solution to a massive problem

Unfortunately shoplifting is a massive problem for retailers and it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.

One bit of tech that can help retailers is the Vars Technology facial recognition system, which the company says is proving to be a huge success.

Vars director John Garnett says: “The 15 sites that have been using our Vars Face system so far have seen excellent results and a significant drop in retail theft. The product is now ready to roll out and we’re seeing a lot of interest from many retailers.”

Vars Face captures images of all customers and compares them to a central list of known criminal faceprints. If the system identifies a known offender an alert is sent to staff either discreetly or for the whole shop to hear.

The central list is created by users who upload details of offenders, together with CCTV coverage, onto a portal for Vars Technology to approve, checking for accurate reporting and compliance with GDPR data protection rules. The data is then shared across the network of users. The more retailers in one town or area use the system, the more effective it is at pinpointing repeat offenders.

Madigans esels

Shelf-edge success

Meanwhile, Josie at Madigans says electronic shelf-edge labels (ESELs) have had a big impact on improving the running of the store. “Like the self-checkouts, we have reinvested staff hours into ensuring that all the basics for a successful convenience retail business are consistently achieved. We now have resource to ensure that the shop is tidy, clear of obstruction, shelves filled with stock and promotional ends replenished as soon as they empty. Not to mention, that we have staff available to assist our customers in finding products.

“There has been a significant number of hours saved by having ESELs, particularly during promotional changes. The promotional changes would have been challenging in that the staffing had to be flexed up, which could sometimes prove difficult. Now, old promotions can be switched off at the click of a button.

“The ESELs have also helped ensure that if a product sells out, staff don’t over-face another product to fill the gap by removing the paper SEL, as it is more difficult to remove the ESEL.”

Volumatic counter cache

Cash-handling solutions

While many people prefer to pay via card or phone nowadays, there are others who still opt for using cash. Volumatic offers a number of cash-handling solutions that offer additional security for staff, and it describes its CounterCache intelligent (CCi) as the ultimate cash-handling solution.

The CCi validates, counts and stores notes at the point of sale, and because notes are stored in sealed pouches inside the device, they are not touched again until they reach the bank. As well as reducing shrinkage, the CCi keeps your team safer and allows them to concentrate on customer service instead of manual cash counting that makes them inefficient and puts them at risk from would-be thieves. The CCi’s technology is trusted by Tesco, The Co-op Food Group, Morrisons and Subway among many others.

Nick Fraser of Fraser’s Retail recently installed Volumatic’s cash management system. He says: “We installed it for a number of reasons. It reduces the cash handing at the tills and also the back office – which means more time can be spent on the shop floor. And it reduces the risk of forgeries – assuming, of course, that the cashier puts the note straight in the dispenser.”

Gander app

Tackling food waste

Technology is helping to reduce food waste on the forecourt too.

Pricewatch Group, the family-owned and operated independent group of forecourts and c-stores located across Sussex, has been successfully using food waste reduction app Gander for more than two years.

Gander uses real-time technology to highlight reduced-to-clear aka stickered food items in stores to consumers. It can reach thousands of people in the vicinity of a store, allowing shoppers to drop in and pick up selected products at great prices while also enabling retailers to reduce their food waste.

In two years, Pricewatch has successfully marketed and sold 169,000 reductions through the Gander app with 120,000 user interactions already identified.

Claire Goddard, marketing manager at Pricewatch, says: “Investing in retail technology has had an extremely positive impact on our stores’ shopper behaviour. Previously, our sell- through rate was 57% but since adopting Gander, our sell-through rate has increased to 86%, a huge increase of 51% with no other changes made in store. ”

As well as displaying reduced-to-clear food products in real time, Gander automatically removes sold items from the live feed of all in-store reductions. Claire says this is a huge benefit because it means shoppers using the app are never disappointed when they reach Pricewatch stores.

The Gander app integrated seamlessly with EDGEPoS, the epos system Pricewatch works with.

Stacey Williams, head of customer engagement and business development at Gander, adds: “Gander is committed to reducing food waste and to helping consumers to manage their shopping budget. Data from our Ganderlytics analytics platform, which is available to independent forecourt and convenience retailers, has shown that, on average, consumers using Gander save around 56% on their food shop.”

Earlier this year a trial saw Gander integrated into the Snappy Shopper home delivery app across five Spar Scotland stores.

Snappy Shopper customers were then able to purchase reduced-to-clear items from Gander for delivery as part of their normal shop. This meant stores on the trial were reducing food waste as well as offering customers the chance to buy a selection of fresh food at reduced prices.

The trial resulted in 11% of orders including a Gander product; Snappy Shopper basket value increased by 10% when Gander items were added; and the item count with Gander was 21.3 vs 13.7 without Gander – an increase of 7.6 basket items.