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Omni-channel Retailing. Blurring boundaries, converging sectors and convenient choices. 5 things to consider in 2017.

Back in May 2013 the Retail Research Centre forecast a bleak high street by 2018 with a very much reshaped retail landscape. As we approach 2017 how real are these forecasts of a 22% decline in stores and a near doubling of online sales?

With the iconic BHS going into administration last month and re-emerging as a nimble and efficient online brand, we reflect on the large changes that have taken place in recent years and what the near future may be like.

Without doubt there will be fewer stores and retailers are already taking action to accommodate the new shopper who sees no boundaries of physical and digital shopping, only a single brand that should deliver a single and consistent experience across all channels.

Mobile is King, personalisation is Queen and choice is a must if the customer of today is going to be kept satisfied and their thirst quenched for fast, interactive, comparative, convenient and any channel shopping.

A decade ago, going shopping meant taking a trip to the shops or browsing through a catalogue. High street brands such as Next successfully penetrated markets by combining two channels well, fulfilling it excellently and providing a rounded service through the till point instore and via call centres. Customers were happy, delivery and return expectations lower, profits were not bad and retail jobs abundant.

While online shopping was on the rise, it was hardly the new norm for consumers and it was definitely not an activity that involved multiple devices, including the smart phone.

Who would have predicted that by 2016, around one in three digital retail transactions would take place on a mobile device and that UK consumers would be turning to apps to buy things like new shoes for same-day delivery? Or even delivery by drones would be even getting talked about!

A lot has changed in the past 10 years, and while the likes of Neal’s Yard Remedies, Next, F Hinds, Bags Etc, Argos, Tog 24 and John Lewis have reshaped themselves, overhauled their retail software management systems and multiplied the channels they sell through ranging from eBay, online, catalogues, instore digital technology, M-commerce and ecommerce to meet, join and thrive in the new market conditions, many retailers are still asking themselves:

  • What will the next ten years will look like?
  • What will they need to do increase profit in a price sensitive market?
  • How do they need to redefine and redesign the systems that provide the backbone of their operation?
  • And importantly, how do they restructure themselves in a very merging physical and digital and blended sector retail world.

2007 – 2016 Review (Centre for Retail Research)

YearCompanies FailingStores AffectedEmployees Affected
2016 (to August)181,20723,578
2015 (12months)257286,845
2014 (12months)431,31412,335
2013 (12months)492,50025,140
2012 (12months)543,95148,142
2011 (12months)312,46924,025
2010 (12months)2694410,930
2009 (12months)376,53626,688
2008 (12months)545,79374,539
2007 (12months)252,60014,083

Whilst the number of companies failing has dropped, the number of stores affected is high reflecting the changes taking place and the large and medium size retailers who are being forced to close their doors including Beales, Austin Reed, BHS, MFI and Mexx.

A wind of change has blown across our landscape. Whilst doors may close to the forces of ecommerce and economy, new windows of opportunity open as new forms of market disruption surface and retail software and technology advances.

The New consumer

New heights of customer experience, impatience and a breath taking array of channel choice, delivery options and ways to pay, is creating board room debates and IT pressures for retailers up and down the country.

With consumers now expecting a seamless shopping experience across an increasing range of connected devices and outlets in which immediacy and convenience are table stakes, it is becoming a matter of life and death for some.

And this is only set to expand over the next decade as we see the traditional UK high street condense, converge and shrink. Take for instance Habitat now an occupant within Sainsburys’ stores, who would have expected the brands to co-exist a few years ago?

But today in a world of crashing vertical sectors, desire for instore experiences and destinations the old rules are broken and new rules are being created at an unrivalled pace.

Many consumers will want an environment where shopping is an event experience in its own right. This will translate into interactive, highly engaging online and real-world retail environments, alongside social instore cafeterias and comfortable product browsing areas.

The adoption of instore AR, online catalogues for extended aisles is already a blossoming phenomenon. Online retailers such as Made.com, Google and The Idle Man are popping up on the high street to offer “experience” and “try before you buy” and brands such as Made By Google delivering “experiences” in shopping centres and on the high street  – it is becoming a fine grey line between instore and online retailing.

The online march onto the high street for the essential “brand and product experience” is accelerating the amalgamation of the online and physical shopping experience. It is no longer just about bricks and mortar stores offering Click and Collect via their website, it is all about blending digital and physical experiences into one and delivering omni-channel experiences at every opportunity and point of brand experience.

A Changing Retail Front

Boundaries have already blurred between physical stores and online as consumers combine their mobile phone into the instore shopping experience. No longer a threat, mobile technology is becoming a key enabler to purchase and retention.

Retail physical spaces are shrinking and will continue to as big brands and smaller ones adopt instore online commerce and software to provide extended product choice through digital aisle, delivering the shopper a larger array of choice and delivery options.

2016 has already seen a surge of online brands (and brand manufactures) effectively entre the physical space to showcase their goods, own labels and tap into physical world shopping experience using temporary pop-up stores. The old rules and boundaries are diminishing and distinction is no longer so much about online or instore but by an entire end-to-end experience built on convenience, instantaneous service and extended choice.

As consumers become more and more instantaneous, no doubt it will not be long before same-day delivery is the norm, Click and Collect points a network across town centres through strategic partnerships.

Today the mind-set needs to change from an online versus instore battle, reactive competitive price war to a proactive strategy of process efficiency, holistic service delivery and intelligent profit margin growth. Retail is becoming and will become, dominated by effective multi-channel retailers who have adopted new, agile, scalable and highly integrated software systems.

The Age Of The Smart Shopper

The widespread adoption of increasingly powerful smartphones with larger screens will continue to improve the mobile commerce experience. Responsive ecommerce websites are essential not only for search engine optimisation but to allow mobile shoppers to browse and purchase swiftly and with ease.

These developments are turning the smartphone into a platform that can support the entire shopping journey, from product search and discovery to comparisons, recommendations and payments. By the mid-2020s, we can expect to see contextual location to be an integral part of the retail experience, providing a way for retailers to deliver targeted, timely, contextually relevant messages to consumers.

Mobile payments are excelling and it won’t be long before our loyalty programs and rewards become smart phone dominated.

How to stay ahead?

As we head into 2017 here are five things to consider:

  1. Stay agile by adopting new cloud technologies and embracing partnership opportunities.
  2. Rethink traditional channels. As hybrid purchasing behaviours continue to emerge, retailers must take a creative hybrid approach to their business models and expand to at least three channels, preferable five through a single cloud retail management system.
  3. Review supply and fulfilment chains. In an age of instant gratification, ensure how fit for purpose your software and IT infrastructure is for today’s customer experience and business strategy.
  4. Understand the consumer journey so you know where sales and interactions are happening and where to focus your resources.
  5. Experiment with experience to create an emotional bond and relationship of trust with consumers, grow intrigue and new engagements through new events, partnerships and creative uses of technology.

The world of retail is undergoing an unprecedented wave of innovation. As a retailer, staying ahead is critical to success. How will you stay ahead of the curve?

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Cybertill’s RetailStore is named ‘Most Innovative Retail Software’ in Corporate Vision Magazine’s 2016 Technology Innovator Awards

Corporate Vision, the monthly magazine dedicated to all aspects of the corporate landscape, has named Cybertill’s RetailStore solution as the ‘Most Innovative Retail Software’ in its 2016 Technology Innovator Awards.

Cybertill’s RetailStore single cloud platform solution combines EPoS, ecommerce, mail order, supply chain and head-office software, all of which come together to deliver a real-time, cost-effective solution, allowing retailers to overcome the steep challenges presented by multi-channel selling and to deliver an omni-channel customer experience. The company’s client base spans most sectors of speciality retail as well as independent retail. Charity retail is a particular strength, for which there is a tailored solution, CharityStore.

Comments Cybertill’s founder and CEO Ian Tomlinson: “Innovation has become such an overused term that it’s hard for prospective purchasers to discern which suppliers and solutions are truly leading-edge. Cybertill is proud to have put cloud-based retail software on the map, and we continue to develop and market new functionality that delivers real operational and financial improvement. This award from a magazine with a huge international readership of C-level execs’ is a real feather in our cap!”

Corporate Vision provides 170,000 readers worldwide with a wealth of news, features and comment on the corporate issues of the day. Taking in everything from business strategy, expert opinion, analysis, corporate case studies, emerging trends, leadership, growth opportunities, and the challenges facing our country’s foremost business leaders, Corporate Vision is an invaluable resource for leaders and decision-makers looking not only to be informed, but to improve the way they manage their operations, staff, technology, business partnerships, and supply chains with a view to creating a more profitable and successful business.

Click-and-Collect holds the key for omni-channel conversions

As the popularity of Click-and-Collect continues to rise, this service is becoming key to driving conversions, both online and in the store, research from a new report by Cybertill, the leading cloud-based software innovator behind RetailStore, reveals.

With almost three quarters (72%) of UK shoppers already using Click-and-Collect services, half of consumers (49%) said they use this delivery method more now than they did a year ago. In fact, over a fifth (21%) of customers said they now use Click-and-Collect delivery for half the purchases they make, underlining its popularity as a means of fulfilment.

This popularity, the new study from Cybertill suggests, is helping retailers boost omni-channel conversions. Indeed, 65% of consumers made additional purchases in-store when picking up their Click-and-Collect items.

And, it seems, having the option to order online and collect in-store is a key mechanic for keeping consumers on the path to purchase. 17% of shoppers said they would abandon a purchase if Click-and-Collect was not available from a retailer, and a further 28% said they would look to buy the same product from another brand or retailer that did offer this delivery option.

However, while convenience and free delivery were the top motivations for consumers using Click-and-Collect services (75% and 74%, respectively), delays when collecting goods from pick-up points in the store itself were disappointing customers.

A third (32%) said they had experienced long queues at collection points, and a further 32% endured long waits while store associates tried to find their parcel in the stock room.

Ian Tomlinson, CEO and founder of Cybertill, commented: “While it’s important for retailers to offer Click-and-Collect in the eyes of today’s digitally enabled shopper, it’s just as crucial to ensure that the experience remains seamless once the customer steps into the store. Our data shows that over a third (39%) of consumers felt retailers could improve Click-and-Collect services by ensuring the stock room was well organised so that parcels could be found more quickly.”

“The biggest barrier to this improvement is a of lack inventory and fulfilment visibility in the omni-channel system for both the customer as well as across the warehouse and store. Real-time inventory levels must be accurate, synchronised and easily communicated to both customers and in-store teams.”

“With the right integration and communication, Click-and-Collect has enormous potential in bridging the online and instore shopping experience. Interestingly, 21% of the shoppers we polled thought retailers should offer a discount or an incentive if an instore collection is delayed, so simple touches, such as a free cup of coffee in-store while they wait for their item to become available, for instance, can help to improve the customer journey,” he concluded.

For further information on Click-and-Collect and how retailers can tackle further omni-channel efficiencies, download the guide by visiting: http://www.retailstore.co.uk/multi-channel-efficiency/.

Cybertill goes football crazy to raise funds for CRUK

Charity Retail Software Provider Cybertill Raises Money for its Customer Cancer Research UK

Cybertill supports Football Shirt Friday to raise much-needed funds for customer Cancer Research UK’s Bobby Moore Fund.

On April 17th 2015, staff at Cybertill’s head office in Knowsley proudly supported their favourite football teams by wearing their shirt to work and donated £2 each to the cause.

Football Shirt Friday is an initiative by Cancer Research UK to raise money for its Bobby Moore Fund. The Fund, set up by Stephanie Moore MBE in memory of her late husband, helps to support research into bowel cancer and increase public awareness of the disease.

Cybertill raised a grand total of £187 which was recently presented to Richard J Taylor, trading planning manager for Cancer Research UK, by Liz Hutchby, project manager at Cybertill.

Ian Tomlinson, CEO at Cybertill, commented, “We are always keen to support our charity customers where we can, and Football Shirt Friday was a great way for our staff to get involved and raise money for Cancer Research UK’s Bobby Moore Fund.”

Cybertill’s cloud-based charity retail system is used in 573 Cancer Research UK shops. Cybertill is the market leader in the charity sector in supplying EPoS, gift aid and retail solutions with over 150 charity retailers using the system in thousands of locations.

Cybertill on cloud nine after winning in UK Cloud Awards 2015

Leading cloud-based retail software provider, Cybertill, has won big in the UK Cloud Awards 2015 for its work with sailing brand MUSTO.

The company took away the gong for ‘Most Innovative SMB Product of the Year’ at the awards, which celebrate innovation, entrepreneurialism and technical excellence in the UK cloud sector, for its multichannel retail software solution, which combines an integrated electronic Point of Sale (POS), ecommerce and supply chain management system.

UK Cloud Awards 2015Its entry highlighted its work with the world’s leading offshore sailing brand MUSTO, which operates its cloud based EPoS system across its twenty UK retail stores in addition to pop up shops in ports across the globe for the Volvo Ocean Race, which the brand sponsors.

Cybertill’s cloud based retail systems give retailers a myriad of benefits including a single product and customer database in the cloud. This enables real time stock visibility across the business and throughout the supply chain, making it easier to manage an omni-channel retail operation and offer services such as ‘click and collect’.

Frank Potts, IT Director at MUSTO, commented: “Managing the retail element for the round the world Volvo Ocean Race was also critical. Cybertill was a perfect fit, as it is cloud based, it is relatively straight forward to deploy in pop up stores. Not only can they provide the solution they can back that up with support as well, which is critical in retail.”

Cybertill UK Cloud Awards 2015Ian Tomlinson, CEO of Cybertill, said of the award: “We are delighted to have received this accolade. Cybertill was set up in the cloud all the way back in 2001. We were the world’s first cloud based retail system and the first software provider to offer Mobile POS, which we are very proud of. To be recognised in the cloud sector is a great achievement, especially with our customer MUSTO, which is striving to push the boundaries of traditional retail through using our system.”

Alex Hilton, CEO of CIF, said: “The calibre and sheer volume of entries that we received for the awards this year demonstrates that the UK Cloud industry has come of age. These awards were established to highlight innovation and achievement in the British Cloud computing sector, benchmarking the amazing Cloud leadership in the UK.”

With an established footprint already spanning over 4,000 locations across the UK, Europe and America, Cybertill’s recent partnership with MercuryPay sees the software provider looking to further its growth in the US in 2015.

Cybertill recognised in FinTech 50 Awards

Leading cloud-based retail software provider, Cybertill, has been shortlisted in the coveted FinTech 50 Awards 2015.

Recognising and rewarding innovation by Europe’s top financial technology businesses, FinTech’s awards outline the top fifty game-changing organisations who are shaping the future of financial technology.

FinTech 50 2015Judged by a panel of industry experts from Google, Microsoft and other Silicon Valley companies, Cybertill was shortlisted for its multichannel retail software solution, which combines an integrated electronic Point of Sale (POS), ecommerce and supply chain management system. Thanks to its cloud-based functionality, real-time data provides retailers with an accurate end-to-end view of their business, whether it’s in-store, online, across multiple stores or an entire estate.

Over recent years Cybertill’s has posted impressive growth figures on both revenues and EBITDA: In 2011/12 revenues rose by 63%, 2012/13 profits doubled and in 2013/14 EBITDA increased by 30% and revenues by 17%.

Commenting on the nomination, Ian Tomlinson, CEO of Cybertill, said: “We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in the FinTech 50. To be recognised as one of the forefront financial technology firms in Europe is a testament to the impetus we place on innovation as we look to meet tomorrow’s retail needs, today.”

With an established footprint already spanning 4,000 locations and 4,500 POS systems across the UK, Europe and America, Cybertill’s recent partnership with MercuryPay sees the software provider looking to further its growth in the US in 2015.

MUSTO partners with Cybertill

The world’s leading offshore sailing brand, MUSTO, has deployed Cybertill’s cloud based PoS system across its twenty UK retail stores.

MUSTO, who historically focused on manufacturing and wholesale partnerships, opened their first high street retail store in 2004. In that time retail, both in-store and online, have become important growth channels for MUSTO.

Musto uses Cybertill EPoS systemWith retail’s increasing importance across the business MUSTO believed they needed to invest in a modern EPoS system that would help them offer their customers a convenient multi-channel retail experience, as Frank Potts, IT Director, commented. “The investment in Cybertill has allowed us to integrate our ecommerce platform with our stores. We now have live sales and product data feeding across the business. This makes decision making more accurate.”

Since the deployment there has been a sea-change in the retail operations, already delivering efficiency savings for the business. “With Cybertill we get lives sales data across the entire estate. Head office can review the stores’ performance first thing every morning, knowing they have all the data and it is accurate and up to date. We have also changed how we re-order and replenish stores and we have already we noticed efficiency savings.”

As for the future MUSTO is looking to roll out ‘click and collect’ across its entire estate and is keen to introduce the endless aisle concept. “As Cybertill’s cloud based we can roll out mobile PoS in our shops as well. We are already looking at this as we believe staff can offer customers a better service in-store when they have a tablet in hand.” Commented Frank Potts.

One of the key elements in selecting a new EPoS provider for MUSTO was support. With Cybertill they are supported 365 days of the year. In addition to that MUSTO sponsor the world’s toughest ocean race, the Volvo Ocean Race. The Race stops at eleven ports as the teams traverse the globe. To celebrate their partnership with the Race MUSTO has created a unique commemorative collection that they will retail in a temporary structure at each Stopover Village. MUSTO wanted their chosen EPoS system to also help manage this retail element. “Cybertill was a perfect fit, as it is cloud based, it is relatively straight forward to deploy in pop up stores. Not only can they provide the solution they can back that up with support as well, which is critical in retail.”

“We are pleased to be working with MUSTO,” commented Cybertill founder and CEO, Ian Tomlinson. “Not only can we provide them with a multi-channel PoS solution, but we can help manage their pop up stores around the world for the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Retailers to Get Social Media Savvy with a Series of Free Guides at Spring Fair

Retailers can get a series of free social media guides at Spring Fair 2015 from leading cloud-based retail system provider Cybertill, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. (Cybertill is also giving away a Christmas Retail Guide at Spring Fair).

Social media has fast become a necessity for retailers, acting not only as a platform for promotional activity, but a way for retailers to speak directly to and gather feedback from customers. However, for independent retailers just starting out on the various social media platforms, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Each social media platform Series of Social Media Guides for Retailersis unique, content that works really well on one may not work well at all on another. Cybertill has written a series of guides featuring its top tips for each platform including; how often to post, the types of content that work best, features to utilise on each network, how to analyse your performance, taking perfect pictures and much more.

By improving their performance on social media, retailers can boost brand awareness, drive loyalty, engage with customers and ultimately increase sales.

Cybertill currently provides its cloud-based retail system, which comprises EPoS, ecommerce, mail order and back office software, to over 650 retailers and is used across 4,500 locations in the UK.

There will be five guides on offer at Spring Fair. Retailers can collect theirs by visiting the Cybertill stand in Hall 5 Stand 5K53.

Get ready for the next Christmas with a Free Festive Retail Guide at Spring Fair

Retailers can pick up a free guide to Christmas retailing at Spring Fair 2015 from leading cloud-based retail system provider Cybertill. For retailers, Christmas generates a huge amount of revenue and preparing for it can seem daunting, especially if you’re an independent retailer stretched for time or feel you don’t have the expertise needed to create a plan for a successful Christmas season.

Preparing for Christmas is a year-long process so it’s important to take a step back and plan for the year ahead. Cybertill’s free guide offers retailers a structure to work from to plan their sales and marketing strategy, right from reporting on the previous year’s sales in January and setting goals to executing it in the run up to Christmas. For multi-channel retailers with a store and ecommerce website, it’s vital to ensure your strategy integrates the two.Christmas Retail Guide

What’s more, for those who often plan around yearly events, such as gift and greetings card retailers, the guide can easily be applied to other holidays such as Easter, Halloween and Mother’s Day.

Cybertill currently provides its cloud-based retail system, which comprises EPoS, ecommerce, mail order and back office software, to over 650 retailers and is used across 4,500 locations in the UK.

The Christmas retailing guide will be on offer at Spring Fair. Retailers can collect theirs by visiting the Cybertill stand in Hall 5 Stand 5K53.

Cybertill Brings First Cloud-Based POS System to North American Market with Mercury Payment Systems Processing

The world’s first cloud based PoS provider, Cybertill, is bringing its products to the North American market integrated with Mercury Payment Systems’ MercuryPay payment processing platform.Cybertill's Mobile PoS solution

Cybertill, a UK based retail systems solutions provider, is currently on a reseller recruitment drive, as it plans to enter the North American retail market. “The partnership with Mercury has multiple benefits. It will help Cybertill get a foothold in the North American market. It is also positive news for resellers, as this will also allow them to share revenues generated from merchant services,” commented Cybertill founder and President, Ian Tomlinson.

In today’s omni-channel retail environment mobile payment processing is increasingly important, especially when used in conjunction with mobile PoS. This combined technology helps retailers get closer to their customers on the shop floor and give them the personalised service that consumers now expect. “This partnership will strengthen our market position,” said Tomlinson. “Cybertill will be able to offer retailers fixed and mobile payment solutions with our cloud based PoS, which can be used as fixed or mobile points of sale.”

“We are pleased to be working with a like-minded innovative company as Cybertill. We will be supporting their reseller recruitment drive as they plan to launch their end to end cloud retail system in North America.” Commented Matt Ozbat, Director of Integration, at Mercury.

Cybertill, a RSPA member, recently showcased its cloud based retail system integrated to the MercuryPay platform at RetailNOW in Orlando, Fla.

Profits surge by 30% at Cybertill

Cybertill, a cloud based software provider to retailers, has seen its EBITDA (before R&D costs) rise by 30% to £671,872, whilst revenues rose by 17%, which are now in excess of £7m.

Cybertill’s results, for the financial year 2013/14, continue its sustained growth. In the previous financial year Cybertill doubled its EBITDA and in 2011/12 grew revenues by 63%.

“We are exceptionally pleased with the year’s results as they demonstrate growth across all revenue segments of our business,” commented Cybertill founder and CEO, Ian Tomlinson.

Ian Tomlinson, Chief Executive at Cybertill“New business orders are up around 30% on the prior year with recurring revenues having grown by 16.4%. This particular revenue stream now represents 44% of our income base which provides Cybertill the assurance of making the right investment decisions for the future.”

One reason for this sustained success is that Cybertill is cloud based. This approach enables retailers and their customers to see live stock levels across the business. This helps retailers offer customers what they want, which is essentially a seamless omni-channel retail experience. Therefore retailers can offer customers convenient services such as ‘click and collect’.

Cybertill is well placed to continue its ongoing growth of profits and revenues. Cybertill has invested in R&D throughout 2013/14 on new product development and will launch some enterprise software modules in 2014. These will help Cybertill offer an end-to-end enterprise cloud software solution enabling Cybertill to target larger retailers.

“Our development of new software modules is also well timed. As the economy and high street are beginning to show signs of sustained growth, this in turn encourages more retailers to invest in new technology to help them manage their operations more effectively in an omni-channel retail age,” said Tomlinson.

The additional cloud-based enterprise software modules being developed include: merchandising, loss prevention and warehousing. These will complement the existing cloud portfolio of EPoS, ecommerce, mail order, loyalty and promotions modules.

Cybertill Opens new Offices

Cybertill, who provides retail software to over 650 retailers in the UK, has celebrated moving to its new offices with a drinks reception and canapés. Cybertill is moved to Clock Tower Court on the Stanley Grange Business Village in Knowsley. The offices were officially unveiled by Lord Derby on Friday the 11th July.

The office move has been instigated by Cybertill’s on-going success. Three years ago Cybertill’s revenues grew by 63%, two years ago profit more than doubled, and in the last financial year profits were up by a further 30% and revenues by 17%. This on-going success has meant headcount has also increased dramatically over this period, in the last twelve months alone it has shot up by 27%. Later this year Cybertill’s headcount will exceed 100 employees for the first time.

Cybertill also made the London Stock Exchange Group’s “1000 Companies to Inspire Britain” late last year.

The official opening was attended by business partners, local businesses, business organisations and local dignitaries.

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