Old Chang Kee Opens Self-Serve Eatery

A manpower crunch and rising labour costs have spurred Old Chang Kee in Singapore to open a self-service eatery called Curry Times Tingkat.

The casual-dining restaurant at Alexandra Retail Centre lets customers place their orders and pay – using Nets ATM or FlashPay cards – at two self-service kiosks. Customers then pick up their food at the counter.

The food served here includes curry-chicken rice, nasi lemak and fish-cutlet rice.

With the $27,000 self-service system, only five staff members are needed to run the restaurant, compared with 15 staff members at the Curry Times outlet in Velocity.

Old Chang Kee’s director, Ms Chow Hui Shien, revealed that it arrived at this concept after facing difficulties in hiring staff while planning the expansion of Curry Times eateries.

There are other benefits when using a self-service system too. “There’s no service charge, so you can keep those savings. There’s also reduced chances of incorrect orders, as customers get to view and pick their orders,” Ms Chow said.

Each interactive touchscreen kiosk has a bright and colourful interface, as well as pictures of dishes for customers to browse through.

Meal and drink options are stated clearly to avoid confusion or mistaken orders.

Payment with Nets ATM or FlashPay cards takes seconds.

Those who prefer to pay in cash can do so at the cashier.

A number is given after payment and customers collect their meals – packed in convenient paper boxes – at the self-service collection point.

The time from ordering to collection is just 10 minutes.

The self-service concept doesn’t mean that customers are on their own. Staff members are present to help customers get used to the system.

Dine-in customers are encouraged to clear their own trays. Staff members help ensure that the place is kept clean.

The menu comprises the top 10 signature dishes from Curry Times, and the food – prepared by two or three staff members in the kitchen – comes hot and hearty.

Mobile Devices for POS Retail Expansion

Consumers are spending more time engaged (some might say, enslaved) digitally, and retailers have taken note. Never before have retailers paid closer attention to consumer technology. The benefits of mobility combined with processing speed and power have ushered in a new paradigm for retailers – in a business where up-to-the-minute access to data necessary to drive decision-making is essential.

Part of the beauty of mobile POS (mPOS) is the new power that retailers can tap into to improve in-store productivity, from aisle-based customer service straight through to back office processing and inventory management. And recognizing the need for customers’ instant gratification, stock can be ordered directly from a distribution center or other stores and sent directly to the customer or shipped to the store of their choice.

Today, many of the world’s leading retailers, including JC Penney, Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor and Zale’s turn to some aspects of mobile POS solutions and services to become more profitable, productive and competitive.

Tablet devices have, for the past couple of years, driven this technology and sales strategy. The Apple iPad and other tablet devices have lead to a growing trend on the sales floor. The portability and graphics capabilities of the tablet render it a powerful tool for creating more efficient transactions and improving customer engagement.

Epicor is one company that has embraced the trend toward mPOS, promoting the technology to retailers as a way to more effectively place orders, process sales transactions, and support other retail applications such as business intelligence, enterprise selling and CRM (customer relationship management) with only an iPad device and a small Bluetooth® barcode scanner.

Offering a powerful computing platform that combines an attractive form factor with relative low cost and ease-of-use, tablets offer retailers a vital tool to improve productivity and decision making from the back office to the point of order entry on the retail floor. What’s more, the graphics capability and expanded “real estate” of tablets offer retailers the ability to provide a visually appealing and rich, contextual and collaborative purchasing experience for shoppers.

The benefits of mobility combined with processing speed and power have ushered in a new paradigm for retailers to help them become more profitable, productive and competitive.

What You Should Consider For Sporting Goods POS Software

Sporting goods stores run the gamut from golf shops to fitness and exercise equipment retailers, to gun shops, to full line sporting goods stores. Whether they are retailers or wholesalers, they all have their own unique requirements for a sporting goods POS (point of sale) system.

Sporting goods POS software needs to be able to keep up with the demands of the sporting store. Sporting goods stores have many different types of merchandise to keep track of, such as exercise equipment, apparel, firearms, accessories and others. Products can be further categorized by sport, such as running, swimming, hunting, tennis, baseball, skiing, golf and more. The sporting goods POS software needs to be sophisticated enough to handle varied types of products and their attributes. Sporting goods stores typically have huge inventories, different product catalogs and ever-changing product lines.

We talked to several experts in the industry on what makes a sporting goods POS software work best for sporting stores.

An integrated sporting goods POS software is vital. The POS system for the sporting store should be able to cover you from point of sale to inventory management to reporting. “It has to meet your core requirements,” Justin Laing from MerchantOS says, “Track sales and payments, keep accurate inventory levels so you can reorder needed products easily and in time to meet demand, and give you the reports you need to analyze your performance and do your accounting and taxes.”

Accuracy is very important, particularly for specialized items that are tightly regulated such as firearms. “When the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) comes to your store, it is as serious as an IRS audit. It can be distressing for the store owner,” says Gary Ellis, Account Representative at Celerant Technology. “They want to see all of the activity for guns that have been sold as well as guns in stock. Specific reports are required showing history and current status/location of a gun. They will expect to see that gun in the inventory if your system shows that it is there. If a certain gun can not be located, consequences are rather serious.” Sporting stores need to be able to depend on their sporting goods POS system to be reliable sources of information.

Being able to create reports for your sporting store and analyze them is crucial. Sherrie Holiday, Director of Marketing for CAM Commerce Solutions, says “Data, data, data – there are so many calculations to consider when measuring success or failure by product, size, vendor, department, etc.”  Being able to zero in on the best-selling products and identify problem ones helps the sporting store be more profitable. It also assists in preparation for seasonal products or holiday items. Generating advanced and customized reports helps sporting goods stores analyze data better.

An excellent sporting goods POS system should make managing a sporting store easier. The software should be integrated, intuitive and easy to use. It should produce helpful and insightful reports. The POS software should be versatile enough to handle different scenarios.

Design Your Own POS

Most successful retailers will agree that a strong POS (point of sale) system is crucial to their business in terms of inventory control and customer relations management (CRM). Providers offer a bounty of options to fit most every need, from store sales to hospitality and salons. The off-the-shelf, plug and play systems can be inexpensive or pricy, depending on the features offered.

All-in-one POS systems for retail include basic hardware – for example, terminal, monitor, barcode scanner, cash drawer, card reader, keyboard, mouse, receipt printer – and pre-installed software. Many are able to be customized for specific businesses. The top-notch POS provides options that can help managers configure the best solution for their business and their CRM.

Why, then, would a retailer choose to create their own POS system in-house? Perhaps the best answer is, simply, that with enough money and tech support, they can. Take Warby Parker, for example. This eyeglass retailer with shops in such diverse locations as New York City, San Francisco, Miami, Oklahoma City and Richmond Virginia, is primarily an online retailer looking to expand to storefronts. The multi-million dollar venture-capital-funded company with a staff of 30 techies decided to build its own unique POS system to meet its corporate goals of equal parts payment management and customer service.

The company had unique needs to meet, including the option of entering the eyeglass prescription information at the time of sale, as well as a security element to limits mistakes. They wanted to be able to track individual customer interactions in multiple settings (email, web, billing and shipping information) so their retail workers could view the full history of the relationship with the customer. In a recent interview, a company spokesman stated that, after interviewing more than 30 POS providers, they were unable to find a company that could deliver what they needed in a timely manner, so the decision was made to build the POS system, software and hardware, in-house.

While it’s true that Point of Sale has sometimes under-served retailers because some are a “one size fits all” system, there are many on the market that offer a range of options. Point of Sale News does not endorse specific companies or products, but we believe a company’s corporate vision should direct its POS choice. We also firmly believe that there’s massive potential in equipping these owners and managers with real-time insights about who is in their store, what customers are saying, what they’re buying and how retail management can actually manage. The bottom line is that a POS system is only as productive as the management that directs its employees to use the system to its fullest potential and to analyze the information that the system produces. It can well be a marketing tool, an inventory control mechanism, an employee monitor and a CRM enhancement, but only if it is treated with managerial respect and attention.

A retailer’s decision to create their own POS should be based on their resources and unique needs, with a comprehensive comparison of the existing systems in the marketplace. For retailers without millions of dollars in venture capital and a huge technology staff, there are plenty of outstanding POS options. The challenge is to find the one that best suits their needs and then to manage the system as they would their most valued employees. Saying “I can’t afford it” is not a viable option for retail success.