Here is Part 2 of our interview with Carl Schartau, an entrepreneurial spirit that we first introduced in a couple of weeks ago in Retail Agenda. There, he shared how he has grown his business through introducing a restaurant, focused on certain customers and other creative ideas for a lucrative retail business. Here, he shares his views on how retail technology provides new possibilities for retailers.
More self-scanning and customising in the future
Today, those customers who are members of the ICA club can pay with a card that you scan like a Metro card. Moreover, in some ICA stores, you can even pay by scanning the QR codes with your phone. In the future, Carl thinks that the manned checkouts will ultimately disappear and be replaced by self-scanning.
“However, it will be much easier than the systems available today. Of course, you will be able to both scan and pay with your phone.”
ICA has some apps where users can find recipes and the latest offers, create shopping lists, and get tips on how to succeed in cooking. Carl believes this is in line with the way the future will evolve.
“There are limitless possibilities with the help of retail technology. Imagine that the staff in the deli will be notified when you take a queue ticket. Then they can pick out your favourite fish once you get up to the counter”, he says and continues “Alternatively, I can send customised offers to my regular customers. I will, for instance, know that you always buy a particular type of yogurt, and therefore, I can provide you with a good price for it.”
The information about the customer’s shopping habits is already in the system today, but the law does not allow him to use the information for marketing purposes.
“However,” says Carl, “why not let the customers choose if they want me to send customised offers based on their previous purchases?”
Combining safety and efficiency
Offering extra services to the customers is Carl’s method for expanding his business. But the level of service must not jeopardise the safety of the staff. A couple of years ago, Carl installed an n ATM in the store, but after a failed robbery attempt, he removed it.
“It was about minimising the risks, and increase the safety of my employees. If customers want to take out extra cash, they can now get it at the checkout.”
For minimising theft on tobacco products, Carl has installed the Vensafe loss prevention solution. He says it works well. There is no shrinkage; the customers order what they want on a touch screen in front of the cashier and then retrieve the goods on their way out.
“It’s straightforward and safe. Moreover, the solution will enable me to live up to the tobacco display ban regulations that might come here soon – the regulations are spreading all over the EU.”
Automating the cash
It is always associated with some risk to have cash in stores. Carl has invested in StrongPoint’s cash management system, CashGuard. It automates the cash process from the point of sale to CIT pickup. The system counts the money, and there is always change in the cashiers. It recycles the cash, and most important of all, it is safe.
“It is much safer than an ordinary safe box. It is so safe that it would be possible to have the actual safe box out in the store”, says Carl.
“Since the money is always safe while they are in the CashGuard system, the CIT can come and pick up the cash at any time − which is also good for safety.”
Optimal cash flow overview
The cash management system is also very convenient for the management control thanks to the reporting functions that give Carl an instant overview of the cash flow, and he can optimise the cash levels in the store.
“For example, just before the monthly payday, there are many purchases with notes of small denominations. Now, I can prepare for that. The only thing that my accountant does not like is the fact that it is not always the same amount of change in the system”, says Carl with a grin.
No more counting
Counting and handling cash is a time-consuming task in retail. Carl demonstrates the easy process of transporting the money from the cashier to the safe box in his cash management system. The money is sealed in a bag, and no one ever has to touch them. He says it consistently works without problems.
“CashGuard is as reliable as a Volvo, while the competitor, Safe Play, is more like a Saab”, he says with a smile.
He believes the CashGuard is a good investment; though it is not paid off yet, it will be soon.
“You can minimise the number of working hours. For instance, I do not need any summer deputy in the summer holidays. That´s one reason why I recommend it for small to mid-size stores.”
Using the power – and heat – of the freezers
Carl is an entrepreneur through and through. He constantly has new ideas. His dream would be to take advantage of the abundance of heat produced by the refrigeration systems in the shop, to heat the hotel located on top of the store. He already sends excess heat to the district heating supplier.
Carls means that “taking responsibility for the environment is often economically right, provided that the regulatory framework is stable; unfortunately, it isn´t always the case.”
”However, there are so many possibilities that every retailer should exploit and take advantage of. The future in retail business and technology is exciting, and a lot will happen the next few years.”