Paving the way for frictionless shopping

NCR is the global leader in consumer transaction technologies, with its software, hardware and portfolio of services enabling more than 550 million transactions daily. The corporation’s latest launch, Retail ONE, is set to help mid-tier retailers overcome obstacles to omnichannel and capitalise on big data.

By Hailey Settineri.

Customers are demanding a smooth shopping experience that can transition seamlessly from online to mobile to in-store, yet many retailers continue to treat these as unconnected experiences – multichannel rather than omnichannel.

Customer needs are changing rapidly, yet older systems on the retail side mean a slow progress.

Retailers have invested heavily in their infrastructure over the past five to 15 years and not all of them are ready to go through a transformation project.

NCR aims to overcome these obstacles with Retail ONE – a commerce hub powered by a flexible omnichannel platform.

It allows retailers to leverage existing and new applications from NCR, it’s partners and third parties, or even their own.

Rethinking retail solutions

Like all innovations, Retail ONE developed out of a number of factors. In the past three years, NCR acquired two large software businesses, Radiant and Retalix. Already holding a strong leadership position in the POS hardware and software sectors in key markets globally, these acquisitions enabled NCR to explore segments it was not already catering to.

“We have a strong foothold, especially in the US, on the low end of the market with a product called Counterpoint,” NCR Retail Solutions President Michael Bayer said. “This allows us to cloud-enable retailers that have five to 30 outlets or stores.

“Through Retalix we acquired R10, which is a highly customisable product suitable for the tier one and two retailers.

It has huge possibility and flexibility, but demands a certain budget and a certain level of IT staff and readiness on the retailer side.

“Where we have the least market share is the mid-market.”

Identifying this gap, NCR created Retail ONE. Made using assets and modules from the R10, the configurable platform is focused on transacting between different channels and allows applications to be attached as needed, rather than being integrated into the core platform.

“Data consistency is the biggest challenge in the multichannel environment.”

Mr Bayer says Retail ONE acts as ‘middleware’ that opens up countless opportunities for retailers.

“It’s the middleware that allows you to connect all of your different touch points and channels – making them talk to each other – and connect them to a joint major database,” he said.

“We realised that there is a market opportunity because there isn’t necessarily such software out there and, if there is, the company that might provide that software doesn’t have the hardware and the services and the full bundle of ingredients to make an end-toend solution.”

NCR has a strong presence in Australia and New Zealand, and Mr Bayer says that while the major retailers have opted for the customised version of R10, a wealth of other players will benefit from Retail ONE – whether they are seeking a full solution or a gradual entry.

“The first entry point could be that they realise that their POS software can’t keep up anymore with the market needs they have,” he said. “They have to determine what their next POS software should look like and what performance and features the software has. For that particular use case, we offer retail POS combined with Retail ONE, so you get both at the same time.

“The platform will take care of the enterprise side of the house from an IT transaction point of view, and the POS system will take care of the in-store environment of the retailer.”

The other entry point is a customer who is quite satisfied with their current POS software system, but they realise that

they need to improve their omnicommerce capabilities.

“Data consistency is the biggest challenge in the multichannel environment,” Mr Bayer said.

“If you give the customers the different touch points, but you haven’t fully integrated the data and the data transactions to one common system, it’s very hard to get data integrity between the two touch points.

Retail ONE supports seamless omnicommerce by allowing the different environments to talk to each other and allow you to work out of a common database.”

The third entry point addresses NCR Retail customers that have a narrow budget and would like to take the process step by step.

“Then we would look at what’s the most burning business issue that this customer has,” Mr Bayer said. “It might be that they need a loyalty system, because they don’t have one yet. We would be able to sell them a stand-alone loyalty system that is Retail ONE-enabled and then, in their next budget cycle, they could bring Retail ONE in to connect that loyalty system with their other systems.”

Opportunities

NCR Retail CTO Eli Rosner says that as more apps are connected to Retail One, there will be endless solutions that retailers will be able to take advantage of.

“With the launch of Retail ONE, we released four applications – eCommerce, digital coupons, digital receipts and Pulse,” he said. “That inventory of applications will grow over time and it’s up to the retailers to figure out what they want.”

One such solution that has been developed with a third party is a recommendations engine. This takes all of the transaction data and develops a graph with notes on the relationship between products.

It can tell, for example, that if a person purchases product A, there is a 20 per cent chance they will also buy product B.

“The technology doesn’t even know what the products are,” Mr Rosner said. “It simply translates all this transaction data into a graph that can be downloaded to a mobile device.

It gives the capability to be able to scan any product and see how many other customers have already bought it, and alert customers to a special on a related item.”

The application, which has been deployed in a proof-of-concept approach in a home improvement store, highlights the opportunities that big data offers broader retail and how Retail ONE can help retailers optimise their approach.

“Everything you purchase moving forward from NCR will be compatible with whatever Retail ONE is going to continue to manufacture in the future, because we’ve extracted the level of the interface to the existing solutions,” Mr Rosner said.

What is Retail ONE?

Retail ONE allows retailers to mix and match innovative applications from NCR, its partners and third parties that can be easily and seamlessly deployed.

Aimed at mid-tier retailers that may not have the budget or ability to overhaul their current commerce solutions, NCR Retail ONE ensures a cost-effective, gradual transition by integrating and leveraging existing hardware and software assets.

Retailers are able to choose applications from a portfolio that is customised to meet their unique business needs. This approach to applications also reduces time to market as retailers deploy new services for their customers.

Accelerating the shift from store-centric to consumer-centric experiences, NCR Retail ONE makes the most of today’s retail touch points while enabling the touch points of tomorrow. This is achieved by implementing the NCR

Retail ONE commerce hub using the cloud, on-premise software or a hybrid of both.

The NCR Retail ONE commerce hub connects to a continuously expanding selection of applications, ranging from POS to clienteling to mobile – all developed by NCR, its partners and third parties.

Leading retail technology innovators, including Microsoft, Inmar and Freshub – all directly involved with NCR Retail ONE – are uniting with other technology leaders, including Cisco and Intel – in support of the new commerce hub and the digital capabilities it provides for retailers seeking to bridge the physical and digital worlds.