7-Eleven Point-of-Sale Deal with NEC Is About Much More than Payment Processing

As the President and CEO of a major technology subsidiary focused on delivering security, safety and operational efficiency using a broad technology portfolio we call the Smart Enterprise, I have the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of great companies and brands.

For example, I take great pride in the fact that NEC Corporation of America has such a longstanding, global relationship with 7-Eleven, Inc. The convenience store giant is a beacon of innovation in the retail industry, and through the years we have helped 7-Eleven build out its impressive IT platform.

This week, NEC announced an exciting, exclusive deal with 7-Eleven to provide point-of-sale (POS) technology to 8,600 stores across the United States and Canada. As we communicated in the news release, for 7-Eleven it’s a great new opportunity to connect with tech-savvy consumers at the register with an engaging, custom digital experience using our NEC TWINPOS® G5100 POS platform.

For us, it’s a great opportunity to continue to demonstrate that we do so much more than provide technology in the store. In this case, we are also offering fully integrated product development, service desk and maintenance support for the next five years.

7-ElevenThese are the types of customer relationships that excite me the most – integrated development and support.  Working with our customer, we are able to leverage real-time feedback in the labs to create a solution that does exactly what our client wants. To help us stay even more in-tune with our customer, we actually have a 7-Eleven store inside our headquarters building in Irving, Texas. We use it and shop there every day.  We serve as a testing ground for our customer, just as our customer often pushes us to innovate in their own environment.

The resulting relationship with 7-Eleven is the very the definition of Smart Retail, which allows retailers to gain insights to know their customers better and build a larger share of wallet. Together, we always have our eyes on the customer.

Over time, I am confident NEC will continue to contribute and enhance 7-Eleven’s customer experience and operational efficiency through a broad range of technologies.

The full gamut of NEC’s Retail Solutions are on display this coming week at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show 2017 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

If you are headed to the NRF or will be in New York City next week (January 15-17), I encourage you to come by and check it out.  Now in its 106th year, there is nothing quite like Retail’s Big Show.

As you can read online in our press release, the NEC booth #4121 will not disappoint and will showcase all of the technologies smart retailers can use to know their customers better, including our core POS hardware, software, cloud platform for retail, Infrastructure as a Service and lifecycle management solutions.  Likewise, NEC’s leadership in biometrics solutions, specifically facial recognition for use in loyalty program, as well as automated greetings and surveillance, will provide a bit of wow-factor in the booth.  Our industry leading analytics solutions for automated shelf detection, heat mapping and video shopper demographics will also be popular items.

Finally, we’ll be joined in booth by our colleagues at NEC Display Solutions, which offers 4K displays, video wall solutions, interactive displays and large format displays for a wide array of commercial and retail applications.

If you are a technologist in the retail industry, I encourage you to check out NEC’s full retail suite by heading over to www.necam.com/smartretail.

You just might be surprised at how we might be able to help you “Know Your Customer.”

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The Importance of Data Visibility In The Store –NEC Retail Technology Makes It Possible

For a small retail business, having the ability to see up to-the-minute sales information can mean whether or not you survive in the marketplace. This is especially true in the convenience store space, where reliable sales data, inventory control, loss prevention, and security are critical to a successful operation.

Some c-stores are independently owned but have a licensing agreement with a large, established company, which affords them the benefits of the company’s mentoring, marketing assistance and perhaps a more corporate look and feel, while they actually operate autonomously.  A major challenge in this arrangement, however, occurs when the company’s affiliated c-stores are working with old retail equipment from different manufactures.

This was the situation with many of Becker’s Affiliate Program store owners in Canada.  Becker’s is a brand operating under Alimentation Couche-Tard, Inc. (Couche-Tard), one of the largest convenience store operator companies in the world.  But without standardized, integrated technology in these affiliate stores, a network was impossible, and neither the affiliate program managers nor the individual store owners could access any sales information from these locations. Without sales data, the company was limited to providing general retail advice, making it difficult to support the survival of stores facing diverse challenges and having unknown issues.

NEC Retail Software Delivers Sales Visibility

NEC worked with Becker’s Central Canada Affiliates program and Gexin Inc., NEC’s Canadian partner, to offer the affiliate store owners a customizable POS system using NEC Stanchion® software. Together with Gexin, NEC standardized ten affiliate stores’ equipment and operational capabilities. Integration and store installations were completed in 3 months and were fully integrated with Gexin’s security system and reporting system to provide stores with sales information and metrics for smart product ordering and operational efficiency.

Store personnel were quickly trained on NEC’s software, which provides a customized dashboard showing their sales data in real-time, and delivers detailed reporting for each networked location to increase sales. Having access to this information provides the company as well as store owners with detailed sales information and working metrics for smarter product ordering and overall improved store efficiency—a first for these c-store owners.

Now, with this fully integrated system, NEC POS terminal, and their Network Video Recorder (NVR) can talk to each other. The information from the POS and security systems provide real-time sales analytics to the Becker’s Affiliate Program, so the company can provide customized support to the affiliate stores to help boost profitability, strengthen their survival rate, and help them grow their businesses.

NEC worked closely with this retail customer, to develop a deep understanding of their business and understand their technology pain points and provide the best solution to address the unique needs of both the company and the individual affiliate stores.

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Black Friday Sales Tanked?

According to this business reporter, Walmart is the reason Black Friday sales were down this year. While that is probably not the case, or at least not the whole picture, the results from Black Friday have proven interesting. The in-store sales numbers were down, while the online numbers were up 14.3 percent over 2013. Many retailers, including Walmart, chose to mark down items in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, giving consumers an opportunity to bargain shop in advance. Plus, the convenience of online shopping is difficult to overcome. It’s easy to grab a tablet and shop while lounging in your favorite chair.

So how does a retail brick and mortar establishment compete with this type of convenience? Create an amazing in-store experience!

Did Your Customers Have the Best Experience?

Customers have opinions about how you do business, and if you don’t succeed in fulfilling their expectations, they will shop somewhere else. A big part of what they want is an innovative, personalized experience that enables them to utilize online technology and access inside a brick-and-mortar store. That is a tall order!

Making reasonable and strategic efforts to fulfill customer expectations is important for 2015, particularly for those retailers who spent time this year analyzing the customer journey. To truly appreciate the importance of having a point-of-sale (POS) system that empowers customer expectations, consider who is actually doing the shopping over this holiday season.

According to a new report by Bankrate.com, a majority of Americans did not plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  They expect to find deals throughout the holiday season. The report also stated that Millennials were expected to be visiting stores on Black Friday in higher numbers than older Americans, and we are very aware of the tech-savvy, mobility centric ways of this generation.

As reported by the U.K. publication Retail Systems, a study by 1010data shows many Americans prefer to shop in stores because they do not want to wait on shipping. Additionally, 97 percent of study participants claimed they would purchase gifts early this year, with half of those starting before Thanksgiving and one in five participating in Black Friday. The reason? They want to ensure product availability.

Fully Connect with Your Shoppers

Whether catering to Millennials, bargain shoppers or early-birds who want to make sure they get that perfect gift, there are ways to improve the experience by embracing technology that your customers really want.  First, let’s discuss what that actually is:

Going Mobile

Shoppers are price and comparison shopping from the floor of your store. They are constantly connected now, and want to have that experience enabled in their brick-and-mortar store experience. This constant connectivity also changes the behavior of a shopper. They are no longer willing to wait in line to make a purchase. They believe they can find what is needed online and will simply exit your store if they are made to wait.

In addition, shoppers have significantly more information at their fingertips, so they are able to not only price shop, but feature compare as well. If the item you have in stock is not what they want, they will go find it somewhere else.
Fortunately, you can update your current POS to include mobility solutions that allow you to achieve the following:

  • Real-time access to data on the selling floor – Now you know what merchandise is in-stock, so you can serve customers more effectively.
  • Better up-selling and cross-selling – Get that key data to sales associates to help them to make better recommendations to customers.
  • Improved communication – Your team can collaborate from the sales floor, again better serving customers without sending them all over the store.

Dynamic Advertising

The ability to deliver real-time information and highly targeted messages is available now. Customers really want to feel like you care about them and are appreciative they shop in your store. Adding digital signage to a POS system provides you the opportunity to:

  • Reach customers where they shop
  • Increase sales volumes of higher margin merchandise
  • Suggest add-on merchandise to increase average purchase volume
  • Incorporate real-time data to present timely and relevant offers to customers at the point they make the buying decision
  • Customize messages for local storefronts easily

Now you can easily get that “wow” factor in your store and enhance the customer shopping experience.

Time to Go High Tech

Retailers who are able to cater to the connected nature of their shoppers will win the in-store experience, and have the ability to better compete with online retailers. However, to do so requires adding a strategy to improve mobility, interactivity and information by empowering the sales staff to access data and sell from the floor. Fortunately, NEC has retail solutions available now and can support you in implementation so you can stay focused on your business.

This is just the beginning. There are many more exciting technology trends coming that improve the customer experience, support better data analytics and increase security. Retail is in for some exciting innovation!