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Giftrap recently attended this year’s Retail Technology and Shopfit, Display and Design expos where Rebecca Spicer found some new, as well as renewed, solutions for the retail sector.

Running concurrently at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre in September, the Retail Technology and Shopfit Display and Design expos showcased 223 exhibits with the latest in interactive shopping devices, RFID demonstrations, point-of-sale equipment, and financial and back-office software. There was also a range of shop fitting products and retail design solutions, such as digital signage and merchandise management tools.

Over three days, almost 4,800 visitors from all segments and levels of the retail industry attended the expos to view the latest products and innovations in line with the theme ‘Optimising Your Retail Performance’. Here are some of our favourites.

In Store

Light boxes (illuminated advertising signs), LCD or plasma screens, and LED displays—or combinations of these—were among the most common in-store advertising and display solutions.

Computronics claims to be one of the first companies in the world to offer a solution that combines colour images and LED messages with its Animator Pro range. The LED display can be used to communicate promotions, new products, upcoming events, business information or instructions. And combined with a visual image, it’s sure to command attention.

John Ferguson of Eco-Signs and Graphics displayed his range of slimline light boxes, and while much larger exhibits with similar product might have surrounded his stand, Ferguson’s Australian-made profile caught our attention.

And if you want to make use of your store’s floor space for marketing, advertising or branding, one company offered a quirky solution. Identity Matters produce a range of custom-printed floor mats to take advantage of the many customers who look down as they enter a store. And taking care of the complete service—from conceptual artwork to samples and completed products—retailers can make a strong visual statement with their logo or customised message printed onto a mat (available in a range of sizes).

For retailers looking to maintain organised and attractive shelves, the Trion Slimline Pusher System is worth a look. It allows products aligned in appealing display trays to be held in rows by spring tension, which automatically pushes the next item to the display front when a customer selects a product. The Slimline system offers retailers the ability to maintain appealing merchandise displays while reducing staff time spent refreshing stock appearance.

Mei + picchi’s latest slot puck merchandising range was also eye-catching, with its simple, clean design appealing to the modern retailer.

And few could go past the Air Aroma stand without being drawn in by the captivating smells coming from the exhibit. Winner of the expo’s Best Stand Awards, Air Aroma showcased its range of diffuser products, as well as an extensive range of aroma and essential oils used to create unique signature scents that can be custom-made to match the brand of any business.

Then, to add more to the ‘retail experience’, Child Friendly Solutions showcased its solution for retailers wanting to provide parents with a distraction for the kids. It’s play panels are compact and safe, with all play attachments fixed to the panel that can be mounted on a wall, column or change room door. It can also be turned into a free-standing, three-sided play centre. There’s no mess to clean up, so staff can focus on your customers, and the panels conform to appropriate Australian safety standards.

Hardware Happy

In terms of point-of-sale, NCR launched its FastLane Mini self-checkout system, allowing shoppers to scan, bag and pay for their own items, avoiding queues and allowing them to get in and out of the shop as quick as possible. As one of the smallest full-function self-checkout systems available, the NCR FastLane Mini features a touch screen user interface, multimedia graphics, voice and visual prompts, and could be the next big thing to hit the convenience store sector.

Getronics got into the self-checkout action with its BEETLE/iSCAN, but there were a few more innovative customer service solutions new to the Australian market, including the Personal Shopping Assistant (PSA) and Customer Feedback System. The PSA is a small, flat screen portable computer which recognises the user their preferred items, draws attention to store specials, shows where items are located, then gives a summary of purchases including their value and quantity. It can even handle point of sale. The Customer Feedback System uses an electronic comment form to conduct quick surveys of customers directly from the point of purchase.

A number of printer solutions were also on show, including Zebra’s thermal, on-demand, all-metal barcode printers—with wired and wireless connectivity options—as well as their thermal, on-demand label, receipt and tag printers.

For businesses looking to DIY their loyalty campaigns, Interactcard’s Dualys Plastic Card Printer prints mono or full-colour cards, single or double-sided, and has various configuration options for cards which require additional levels of security.

NCR also announced the release of its simultaneous two-sided thermal receipt printing technology. By printing on both sides of a receipt, NCR claim retailers can reduce their paper roll receipt needs by as much as 50 percent, saving money on freight, storage and disposal, as well as saving time at the checkout and benefiting the environment. NCR’s first two products using this technology include its two-sided POS receipt printer, the NCR RealPOS 7168, and its two-sided, thermal receipt paper.

A number of exhibitors were showcasing the latest in bar code scanners, with something to suit all GHA members, from retailers to wholesalers and manufacturers. Denso had one of the largest ranges on offer, starting with its Bar Code Handy Scanner, suitable for long distance and wide bar code scanning. Then there was the Bar Code Handy Terminals for advanced scanning, with full colour screen, wireless connectivity and Microsoft eMbedded Operating System, designed for the retail supply chain.

HandHeld Products also had some new scanning products on display, including the Dolphin 7850, a compact, hand-style mobile computer that’s built for scan-intensive, front-line applications. We were particularly impressed with the flexibility in data capture. Users have a choice of Adaptus Imagine Technology for general purpose data collection and image capture applications, or laser technology for long range bar code scanning. The battery life is also impressive with the product powering bar code reading and radiofrequency-intensive applications beyond an entire work shift.

Software Solutions

There were back-office solutions aplenty at the Retail Technology Expo, too, with MYOB Australia launching the latest version of RetailManager v9. It comes with new features such as PC-EFTPOS integration with banks, enhanced support for USB point-of-sale hardware, and improved search and report capabilities.

Thomson Data Corporation (TDC) exhibited its point-of-sale retail management solution, incorporating a fast touch-screen, internet polling, integrated EFTPOS, customer loyalty, user-definable multiple tendering, customer surveys, sales analysis, discounting functionality, blind cash declarations, serial number, gift voucher and credit note tracking, lay-bys, split tenders and float management. TDC’s Shopkeeper Plus solution offers all of the above, plus a number of back-office functions such as inventory management and general ledger accounting.

TDC also has something for wholesalers with its Warehouse Plus management software which helps to accurately track customer sales order entries, invoicing and stock movements.

And with the new WorkChoices laws bidding employers to record the daily hours worked by employees, software solutions such as Riteq’s TimeTEQ and Workplace Systems International’s WorkPlace ChangePlanner, will help keep businesses
on top of their legal obligations.

TimeTEQ is a fully integrated software suite designed to address a range of workforce management needs such as award interpretation, availability and leave management, rostering, labour forecasting, time data collection, time and attendance, employee self-service, and payroll and HR integration.

The WorkPlace ChangePlanner allows a central human resource planner to organise optimal rosters to suit specific demand periods in the year.

For retailers wanting to learn more about their store performance, TCS Instruments and Beonic were showcasing their customer counting solutions. TCS offer a range of options to suit any-sized business, with the service extending beyond just the technology used to count customers to include population analysis, branch comparisons, historical comparisons, sales conversion rates, average spend analysis, trading hours management, rostering and staff management and analysing the effectiveness of marketing and promotions.

Beonic’s Traffic Pro is a complete people counting system suitable for small to medium businesses. With different solutions for single stores, retail chains and enterprise level requirements, Traffic Pro can automatically import data from your POS system and immediately generate traffic, sales and sales conversion statistics. It can also combine the sales data obtained from the POS system with visitor traffic to determine sales conversion KPIs, providing management with instant feedback from sales strategies and in-store performance.

And for businesses looking to relocate or open additional premises but aren’t quite sure which would be the best location to maximise traffic to their business, MapInfo revealed it’s range of location intelligence software, solutions and products to help analyse and decide the most effective location for your business.

With plenty of new and updated technology solutions available, it certainly seems an opportune time for retailers to embrace new solutions—or update existing ones—to improve systems, customer service and productivity in today’s competitive retail environment.

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