Guelph Public Library Improves Functionality with Star Micronics

thumbnail_Bookmobile 2017 (2)

Guelph Public Library (GPL) is a public library system serving the City of Guelph in Canada. Including the main downtown library, there are five branches, plus a bookmobile, GPL strives to educate the public by providing books of various topics to all ages, and by showcasing new technologies such as 3D printers and virtual reality labs.

To update their technology, Andrew Kwan, IT Manager and Jeff Fernandes, System Administrator for GPL at the library’s main branch, decided it was time to move to a virtual desktop infrastructure solution, utilizing the VMware Horizon View software suite. In order to successfully do this with their old USB printers, Andrew and Jeff would have been required to install drivers on every dedicated PC in all six of their locations. They wanted a simpler solution to upgrade their system and improve the overall daily workflow for the library staff. They were already using the Polaris Integrated Library System software and Star Micronics receipt printers, and they decided to stick with the brands they knew. After doing their research, Andrew and Jeff found that Star’s new TSP100IIIWLAN printer was the perfect printer for their library system.

guelphlibrary___Super_Portrait

Star Micronics’ TSP100IIIWLAN printer provided a simple solution for GPL to upgrade their system, and efficiently print hold slips, overdue slips, receipts, renewals and more from any of their locations. With the WLAN connectivity, GPL had the flexibility to place the printer anywhere in the library, and were able to reduce the clutter of cables on circulation desks. With no need for reconfiguration or reprogramming on the IT side, GPL was able to get the printer connected and printing receipts in less than an hour. GPL plans to install the TSP100IIIWLAN in all six of their locations and their bookmobile.

Rather than operating individually, all six location’s data operations are now centralized in one data centre, which improved the overall functionality of their library system, and allowed GPL to save on operational costs. Guelph Public Library’s now Virtual Desktop Infrastructure system, with Star’s TSP100IIIWLAN, now operates “100 times faster” than their previous system.

“Guelph Public Library likes to usually have two employees working the bookmobile – one at the front and one at the back – and equip them both with their own receipt printer. With the TSP100III’s convenient WLAN connectivity, we can use one printer in the bookmobile. It’s much easier and faster for both employees. The new solution with the Star printer really improves the overall functionality of the library.” – Andrew Kwan, IT Manager, GPL

 

Customer Experience Trends for the Future of Retail

VR

Technology in retail has reached an all time high and is continuing to grow in 2017. The Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) have all began to make their breakthrough into retail technology. It’s needless to say that this technology is changing the customer experience.

IoT in Retail

The Internet of Things simply defined is the “internet working of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as ‘connected devices’ and ‘smart devices’), buildings, and other items – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these object to collect and exchange data.”

IoT is everywhere! If you own a smart phone, then you are using IoT on a daily basis. With the new trend of mobile wallets and near field communication (NFC) payments, retailers are beginning to use IoT in their stores to enhance the customer experience. With wearable technology and NFC payments, retailers can provide more payment options for the customer and a smoother transaction process by allowing the customer to pay via smartphone or wearable device such as an Apple Watch.

Moving toward an age of paperless transactions, it’s crucial for retailers to accept mobile payments and offer digital interaction with their shoppers via IoT. Virtual and digital communication and transactions are something that shoppers are going to be looking for in 2017, and it will have a huge impact on the overall customer experience.

VR and AR in Retail

2016 has proved to us that virtual reality and augmented reality will change the way people shop and in turn, transform the customer experience in retail. Shoppers will no longer need to physically travel to a store to experience the way something looks and feels. While VR and AR are definitely related, the two are used very differently in retail technology.

If you are active on Facebook or another social media platform, you may have notices that many people have received a pair of virtual reality goggles during the holiday season (seriously… a lot of people). Overall, these goggles are used to play video games or experience virtual realities like riding a virtual roller coaster or exploring a virtual jungle. In terms of retail technology, virtual reality could possibly be the new way people do their shopping.

How will this change the customer experience? How will this change omnichannel retail?

Think about when you are shopping online, but hesitant to make the purchase because you’re not sure if the pants you are purchasing will fit you, or because you don’t know if the lamp you’re looking at will go well in the living room. With the rise of VR, ecommerce retailers will be able to create a virtual store and connect the shopper with the physical product, without the shopping ever needing to leave their home. Sounds crazy, right?

Now let’s talk about AR. In 2016, Pokémon Go! took the world by storm by introducing one of the first successful augmented reality games for smartphones. We quickly learned how the game could affect retailers, and retailers quickly learned how to take advantage of the game by offering discounts and special promotions to their customers who were playing.

As technology continues to advance and VR and AR becomes ‘the norm’, shoppers will expect a more technologically advanced customer experience. We can already see this trend with the growing adoption of online retailers and mobile payments. Now the question is: what can SMB retailers do to keep up with this advance in technology? How can they continue to keep the customer satisfied?

SMB Retail Technology

While the rise in retail technology will have a huge impact on the overall customer experience, there are ways SMB retailers will be able to better the customer experience for their shoppers in 2017 that won’t require a virtual reality store.

One very simple way SMB retailers can use technology already available to them to ehance the customer experience, is to create an omnichannel shopping experience for their customers. Engaging customers beyond the transaction is key when creating the ultimate shopping experience. This can be done through the retailer’s website, mobile app, etc. According to nChannel, two-thirds of shoppers will check prices on their phone before making a purchase in a brick and mortar retail store. For this reason, SMB retailers need to make sure that they are engaging customers both in-store and online in order to keep their shoppers satisfied.

Enhancing the Customer Experience

In this age of new technology, omnichannel retail, and being able to basically purchase anything you need online or on your smartphone at your convenience, there is an increased pressure being put on SMB retailers to keep their customers satisfied in-store. The important thing to note is that shopping is no longer just about making the purchase, but it is about the entire shopping experience, whether that is a virtual reality store, or superior customer service.

In order for SMB retailers to keep their customers satisfied, they must first understand their audience and their needs. If a retailer’s target audience is a middle or older-aged crowd, creating an app for a virtual store may not be appealing. For this same audience, increasing customer service reps in store or sending mailing coupons might be more efficient. With every audience comes a new strategy for providing the best customer experience.

 

5 “Must-Haves” for Stadium Point of Sale

blog - stadium pos

When visiting a large sports stadium or entertainment arena, you often find long lines for food and merchandise during half-time or intermissions. The people attending these professional sports games or concerts paid good money to see their team play or favorite artist perform, and they don’t want to miss a thing. This puts a huge amount of pressure on the employees working the concession stands or merchandise shops to complete the customer’s order as quickly as possible. A lot of this workflow plays into the point of sale system being used. Here are 5 “must-haves” when looking for a POS system for sports and entertainment venues.

1. Intuitive Software

First and foremost, you will need an easy-to-use and intuitive point of sale software. Depending on how often a team plays in the stadium or how many performances take place per year, stadium employees tend to work more sporadically compared to your standard restaurant or retail employee. This means that stadiums need a POS systems that concession and merchandise shop employees can pick up quickly with little to no training.

2. Back of House Support

While people rarely see what goes on behind the scenes at stadium concession stands, it’s important to make sure that you’re POS manages the back of house just as well as it manages your transactions. From inventory management, to menu management, to fan data,, backend analytics can help you to make sure you never run out of stock during a big event. By having access to analytics that can be reported day-to-day, you can make sure that your concession menu appeals to your audience for a particular game or event.

3. Varied Payment Support

When you have a packed stadium with a mile-long line of customers, you simply do not have time to fuss over payment methods. In a high-pressure, high-volume environment such as sport and entertainment stadiums, you need to get your customers through the line as quickly as possible. One of the best ways to ensure a quick and seamless transaction is to make sure your POS system supports a multitude of payment methods. Now, with more people adopting mobile wallets, you will see more and more retailers and concession stands accepting NFC payments at major sports arenas. Make sure that when your customer is set with his order and ready to pay, that whatever form of payment he chooses will be accepted at your point of sale.

4. Mobile Ordering

One ordering method that is rapidly gaining popularity in sports entertainment properties is mobile ordering. During major sports games and concerts, people don’t want to leave their seat and risk missing a big play or their favorite song. Many stadiums are adopting a mobile ordering method where fans can order food or drinks on their mobile device and either have it delivered to their seat, or go grab it when it is ready. Fans don’t have to miss a thing and concession employees don’t have to deal with a line of angry customers. It’s a win for everyone!

5. Reliable Hardware

In fast-paced environments such as stadium concession stands and merchandise shops, employees don’t have the time to deal with flaky hardware. They need their receipt printers to print and their cash drawers to open every time a transaction is completed, and they need hardware that will withstand the high volume of transactions. Appetize and Star Micronics have teamed up to create a complete point of sale solution for stadiums that combines intuitive software and reliable hardware peripherals.

You can find the Appetize and Star Micronics bundled POS solutions in major sports and live entertainment locations including the Golden 1 Center (home of the Sacramento Kings), U.S. Back Stadium (home of the Minnesota Vikings), over 40 Live Nation properties, and many more.

Learn more about Appetize at http://appetizeapp.com.

Disruptive Technology and Its Influence on the Receipt

disruptive technology blog

It wasn’t that long ago that shopping was a single-channel experience. If a customer needed something, they purchased the item at the store, checked out at the register and took their receipt at the end of the transaction. However, disruptive technology like mobile commerce has opened new channels that have transformed the entire retail experience.

Mobility and the Modern Shopper

Mobile commerce is expected to hit an all-time high in 2017, according to the retail analysts at eMarketer.com. The website estimates that this year, more than 95 million Americans will make at least one purchase on a smartphone and an even higher number – 165 million people – will use their smartphones to research and compare products. Retailers have been working to adapt to shopper’s new preferences by optimizing their websites for mobile, introducing new store apps, and offering cross-channel purchasing options.

Although the competition from online-only retailers is fierce, big data has helped brick-and-mortar retailers learn more about their customers’ habits and preferences. Online shopping is highly personalized, so physical retail stores are working to provide a similar experience by gathering information about their customers via social media, traffic counts, and loyalty engagement, but big data has helped them to better predict trends, develop targeted marketing campaigns, engage customers across channels and generate a higher level of customer loyalty.

Mobile Commerce’s Impact on the Receipt

Disruptive technology like mobile payment platforms will continue to emerge and gain popularity and the number of purchases made using smartphones will soar. These innovations have transformed the way we shop and pay for purchases, but it’s also had an enormous impact on another staple of a payment transaction: the receipt.

Many retailers require receipts for returns and exchanges, but disruptive technology has changed the way we think about receipts – how they are printed and issues and what information they include. A customer who opts for the mobile checkout to avoid waiting in line still expects to be given a receipt, and Star Micronics’ printing and receipt apps along with wireless printers make this possible.

The SM-T300i, for example, is a popular wireless printer with an ultra-rugged design, perfect for busy restaurants or retailers and other harsh work environments. Printing is possible via practically every mobile device using Star’s newest app PassPRNT, which enables printing from an iPad®, iPhone®, iPod touch®, or Android™ device. Star’s cloudPRNT, is an innovative technology enabling users to print to Star printers directly through a cloud service.

Although it’s easy to lose track of paper receipts – whether they are crumpled on the floor of the car or shoved into a pocket, electronic receipts are easy to organize and access later. Star Micronics’ AllReceipts™ is a free, cloud-based digital receipt application that allows users to store and manage receipts on their mobile device. Customers just have to scan the QR code at the bottom of the receipt using the app.

Disruptive technology like mobile payments and big data have changed the way people shop as brick-and-mortar retailers work to compete with the highly-customized experience that online-only retailers can provide. Receipts are still expected with every purchase, so this technology has been forced to evolve as shoppers prefer mobile checkout and paying with their smartphones. Star Micronics offers an arsenal of options for retailers seeking wireless solutions for receipt printing, so customers can receive their receipts and organize them the way they are most comfortable.

Star Spotlight with Vend

Vend with Star

What does Vend do?

Vend is America’s leading retail POS software, inventory management, ecommerce & customer loyalty platform for iPad®, Mac, and PC. Vend has customers in over 150 countries and prides itself on providing seamless point of sale solutions for retail, food and beverage, coffee shops, and more. Vend’s ecommerce and sales operations features make it easy for retailers to provide the perfect shopping experience for any customer whether in-store or online.

How is Vend working with Star Micronics?

Vend works with Star Micronics’ printer peripherals to bundle a sleek, yet reliable point of sale solution for any retailer. With certified support for Star’s TSP100 and TSP650IIBTi desktop printers, SM-S220i portable printer, and all-in-one mPOP™ peripheral, Vend offers solutions for large or small retail environments. Vend has also recently added support for Star Cloud Services’ free digital receipt solution and customer engagement tools. Star Cloud Services, along with Star’s AllReceipts™ digital receipt app, allows retailers to offer their shoppers the option to claim a digital copy of their receipt and gives them the ability to later engage with their customers through the app.

How is Vend working with the new Micro Receipt?

Star Cloud Services recently released a new feature called the Micro Receipt. The Micro Receipt allows retailers to print only the AllReceipts QR code on the paper receipt, saving up to 80% on paper compared to the original. While only the QR code and optional store name and time stamp will appear on the paper receipt, once scanned within the AllReceipts app, the customer will have gained access to the full, itemized receipt in the app. Vend is the first to integrate the new Micro Receipt, allowing their retailers to get a longer lifecycle out of every Star Micronics printer.

“We think there is great potential to introduce this new solution, specifically the Micro Receipt, to our customers,” says PE Perruchot de la Bussiere, General Manager of Channel and Business Development for Vend. “With this innovative solution, we will be able to work with resellers and find new customers together.”

Technology Shifts & Consumer Trends in Front of 2017

retail startups

Amazon Go and the Post Checkout Era Begins

New broke out detailing Amazon’s latest innovate in retail, Amazon Go beta, which opens to the public in 2017. Amazon has built a grocery store equipped with machine learning technology, similar to that in self-driving cars, and is testing out a post checkout, post line waiting era in retail. Here’s the cool Amazon Go video for your enjoyment. Companies like ShelfX and a Swedish entrepreneur have also attempted unmanned grocery stops (before it was cool).

Why is there so much hype surrounding it? Consumers are in and out of the store thanks to Amazon’s “Just Walk Out Shopping” experience. Families and individuals can go into the store, see something on the shelf, and walk out with it while never speaking to an employee (it’s called technology, not shoplifting?).

This means POS users need to start thinking ahead of the curve and preparing themselves for yet another technological advancement. Granted, since the program is in beta, that doesn’t mean things are going to change overnight, but now is a good time to start brainstorming changes so the impact of a new status quo is less severe.

Amazon-Go-TA

This new shopping experience requires customers to have an Amazon account, a supported smartphone, and the Amazon Go app installed to shop freely. The outside orange square logo display Amazon and Go in large letters, and on the inside there are four bottom menus that users can press “key”, “receipts”, “about”, and “more”.

I speculate they might release for both Android and iOS. Users can enter the store by tapping on “key” and scanning the QR code that appears on screen to pass through a subway-like terminal. That process than activates the shopper’s virtual cart and customers can begin taking goods. Amazon Go automatically updates the user’s inventory in the app when products are detected taken from our returned to the shelves. Customers don’t need to scan out and when they pass back through the terminal, the app sens a mobile notification alerting that a payment was processed, and a digital receipt is then sent to their device.

NFC Contactless Payments lead the change into the Post Checkout Era

Snapchat Spectacles and the Engaging Brick and Mortar Space

Snapchat, known as Snap, Inc., released a camera equipped pair of sunglasses called Spectacles that might seem familiar to those who bought Google Glass. TechCrunch reports Spectacles allow users to record video tidbits in a socially accepted style. On November 21st 2016, a pop up shop appeared overnight in New York City where app users and curios consumers initially waited as long as three hours in wintery weather to get their hands on a pair. Inside the brick and mortar store was a single vending machine (SnapBot), where customers choose up to two out of three sunglasses, selling for $129.99 each. I was in the city visiting some friends and decided to snag a pair for myself. While I anxiously waited in line, there were a few thing that I noticed about the store. Snap Inc engaged their users and holiday customers by providing exclusive content. Unique snap codes were placed throughout the queue and shoppers in line were able to entertain themselves by scanning them. The staff was equally as engaging by educating their new product users in-store with personalized customer service.

Showrooming Pains and Frustrations

Retailers will continue to struggle against online sales due to a developing showroom trend that is likely to move forward into the new year. Consumers visiting in-store locations are purchasing goods online later at their own convenience after studying the product in-store. I’ve seen people walk into a store, snapping a quick photo and leaving without a purchase. This can be increasingly difficult for retailers and small business owners to keep a healthy relationship with customers while fighting for their attention. At first glance it might seem as though showrooming is becoming a nuisance, but some retailers are using this as an opportunity to innovate. Small businesses can utilize new technology available to study their target market, improve the ecommerce experience, as well as integrating a seamless purchasing system between online and physical

Personalization and Exclusivity

In a retail world where department stores once ruled the market, small unique ships are are able to provide value, unique in-store experiences, and cultivate relationships with their customers, are embracing the momentum shift. Therefore, offering a unique and personalized shopping experience is vital for customer retention, on-site sales, and business growth. The goal is to add a hint of intimacy and customer care, rather than entertaining customers (depending on your objective and brand).

Rob Hom

Marketing Intern