Cegid Connections: 3 days covering key topics such as omnichannel, unified commerce, clienteling, the shopping experience and the Cloud.
This spring, hundreds of retail professionals gathered on the banks of the Danube to participate in the Cegid Connections conference. The objective was to learn, exchange, test products and network. Retailers from more than 35 countries met at the Corinthia Hotel in Budapest, Hungary. The theme of this year’s conference: “UNIFIED”: unifying the customer shopping experience and breaking down once and for all the boundaries between sales channels and points of contact.
On the agenda at Cegid Connections (which took place from 5th to 7th April 2017) were more than 40 working groups, plenary sessions, workshops, presentations and meetings to provide the 400 participants with both strategic and practical insights into the challenges of Unified Commerce.
Omnichannel retail, digitisation of the store, creating an outstanding customer shopping experience, international development, clienteling and the Cloud were among the topics.
Innovation was also on the cards; Cegid unveiled its new in-store omnichannel solution, Shopping, as well its Worldwide Retail Cloud platform – two innovative solutions to address two major retail challenges today.
The physical store is the hub of unified commerce
“Pure players aren’t the future of retail; it’s still the stores.” Or so says Catherine Barba, a successful entrepreneur, business angel and pioneer of the web who was voted one of the 50 most influential people in the European digital economy. She kicked off the debate on the first day of the Cegid Connections conference and shared her advice and vision for tomorrow’s retail industry. According to Barba, thanks to the evolution of digital commerce and inspiration of numerous tech start-ups, retailers need to be more creative and offer something that’s different, not to mention make things a lot simpler and ‘frictionless’ when it comes to the customer shopping experience.
“Pure players aren’t the future of retail; it’s still the stores,” says Catherine Barba, CEO and founder of PEPS Lab.
The store and beyond
In the digital age, the role of the store has completely changed. Consumers are more connected and demanding than ever before: according to The Digital Post, 79% of people use their mobile phones for shopping; and 84% of Z-generation customers expect an interactive and personalised experience in store, claims French retail magazine LSA. These days, the store has been transformed into more than just a place to pay for things. It’s now, above all, a place which favours experience over hard sales. This means injecting a bit of retail theatre and life, much like you’ll find in the Sonos boutiques of New York where fans of music can congregate, or the L’Oréal beauty stores in Paris which offer make-up workshops.
Launch of Shopping, the first omnichannel in-store solution
The philosophy that puts the store at the heart of retail is is at the heart of Cegid’s latest product innovation: Shopping. Developed on a Windows 10 platform and available via the cloud, this new mobile and omnichannel POS solution adds an extra dimension to the point of sale. Shopping can be deployed both on retailers’ fixed and mobile devices and it bridges the gap between online and offline. The objective is to bring together into a single in-store platform all the vital tools and omnichannel services for unified commerce . Sales staff can exploit new digital technologies and increase both efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction. Omnichannel services in-store includes “click and collect”, store to home & endless aisle, store to store etc.
“With Shopping, the store becomes the customer’s point of reference, taking things far beyond just selling stock,” says Olivier Chiono, Head of Retail Product Management at Cegid.
The application makes it easier to further the role of the salesperson: allowing them not only to become much more mobile, but also providing them with all the tools they need in store to better serve the customer including omnichannel sales, cataloging and clienteling services. They are now armed with all the information and tools required helping them become customer service experts, brand ambassadors or coaches. “This transformation of the role of the sales associate is vital for retailers if they want to keep their customers and not lose any sales,” says Chiono.
The French swimwear brand, Vilebrequin, is one of the first customers to adopt the new Shopping solution.
“We make around half our annual sales in just a few months over the summer, in stores often with limited space. The Shopping solution will enable our staff to offer omnichannel services, buy online pick up in store, show all the products in our catalogue and build customer loyalty through clienteling,” says Christian Roche, Director of Vilebrequin’s Information Systems.
Y2 two years on: what’s new?
For those of you who remember, Yourcegid Retail Y2 for unified commerce was launched in Berlin at Cegid Connections 2015. Y2 allows you to manage your entire retail organisation via a single, modular, integrated platform, whether operating own-brand stores, franchises or concessions. The solution is available in 25 languages and already deployed across 65 countries.
“To date, more than 150 retail brands are using Y2 worldwide and over half in Software-as-a-Service mode, which makes the Cloud very important in our strategy,” says Nathalie Echinard, Director of the Retail at Cegid.
Enhancements in the 2017 version include CRM with document management (passport, ID, etc.), offline mode and omnichannel integration.
The customer journey becomes “frictionless”, committed and emotional
At each Cegid Connections conference, held every two years, Tania Oakey and Samir Belkhayat give a broad overview of the latest retail innovations seen at NRF in New York and other parts of the world. These included robotisation, artificial intelligence, frictionless retail, chatbots, voice recognition systems, slow shopping and even surfing in virtual reality. In the digital age of omnichannel retailing, brands now have to compete with each other by giving consumers an extraordinary “shopping experience”.
“Retail will change more over the next five years than it has in the past fifty,” says Tania Oakey, Director of Marketing, Retail & International at Cegid. “Are you ready to surf the wave of all these innovations?”
A new customer journey for a new shopping experience
Using clienteling software, retailers can deepen their understanding of the customer and provide a more personalised service. By carefully maintaining a history of consumer purchases, preferences and tastes, they can ensure a more cohesive customer relationship and increase loyalty towards the brand. According to research by the Luxury Institute LLC, clienteling can triple the amount of data and double levels of loyalty, especially among the 20% most loyal customers who generate 70% of sales.
As well as growing interest in clienteling, new forms of payment are also becoming increasingly popular, including a new wave for “frictionless”. During the Cegid Connections workshops, many speakers acknowledged several new payment methods taking the industry by storm. These include over 10 million stores in the US now using Apple Pay, 400 million people using Alipay and 33 million consumers using Amazon Pay. Around a third of all Cegid clients’ points-of-sale are already connected to these Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) tools and managed by Cegid’s Y2 technology. This should help speed up payments even more and ensure a seamless experience.
Towards more engaging and emotional shopping experiences
Retailers are increasingly looking for new ways of engaging and retaining customers, often trying to turn customers into brand ambassadors. For instance, H&M has tried to entice people by offering special promotions when customers download their mobile app, while many others have turned to popular social media platforms like Instagram to influence would-be ambassadors. Personalising products is another popular approach.
All of these methods of engagement aim to foster more enthusiasm for the brand, but what’s really needed is arousing real emotions: “In retail, it’s no longer enough just to provide information about the product, or simply to process transactions. Now you have to provoke emotion,” says Jean-François Gomez, Industry Solutions Architect at Microsoft.
Technology for unified commerce
The continual search for providing better information and how to make using software much more intelligent meant that Artificial intelligence (AI) had to be a part of the 2017 Cegid Connections. Furthering the advances of Big Data and Business Intelligence, AI is destined to make a huge a difference in an increasingly competitive environment where accurate knowledge of the customer and their virtual avatars becomes vital.
“Artificial intelligence feeds on data from both the real and virtual world. Retailers will then be able to collect, analyse, share and use all this information to make the right decisions,” adds Gomez.
The strategic role of the CIO
According to Robin Mitchell and Peter Burggraaff of the Boston Consulting Group, the CIO needs to adopt more of a leadership role: “We need to push for a fundamental change in the way IT creates value in retail.”
The two experts detailed the necessary steps to take to help transform IT into the digital age of unified commerce. They also stressed the key role of the CIO in this strategic shift, and the ability to vitalise key projects like CRM, clienteling, analytics or omnichannel retailing.
“We need to push for a fundamental change in the way IT creates value in retail,” said Robin Mitchell and Peter Burggraaf of the Boston Consulting Group.
Security: dealing with new threats in the store
Security is on everyone’s lips these days. David Gosman, HP’s Global Hospitality Segment Manager, gave some expert advice on how to deal with new store threats, such as using a Basic Input / Output System (BIOS) capable of detecting an attack and self-repair. He also advocates segmenting access to huge databases – or data lakes – made up of the vast quantities of information collected by retailers via the web, or through their store networks. Franck Morales, VP of Marketing for France at Orange, detailed the infrastructure for cloud computing and the data centres required to build an IT system “in the cloud” that’s powerful, agile and secure, as well as respectful of consumers’ personal data.
Reaching for the clouds
To achieve the ambitious objectives of retailers and accelerate innovation in the face of competition, the Cloud is now essential. “We are committed with our partners at Microsoft and Orange Business Services to offer a global cloud – something that’s crucial for the international development of any retailer,” says Sylvain Jauze, Director of International Operations. According to Gartner, SaaS will account for 35% of business applications expenditure by 2020. So, there’s no time to delay.
Very quickly, you’ll be able to benefit from our new World Wide Cloud Retail platform, based on several points of delivery worldwide to ensure a centralised store management platform.
Cegid Group has in fact been offering solutions “in the cloud” since the 2000s including retail, payroll, HR and finance solutions . Today, Cegid Cloud manages 540,000 client databases on 2,400 servers worldwide. According to an IDC study, Cegid is the second largest SaaS operator in France. And in 2013, for retail, the Cloud’s share of revenues exceeded software licensing purchases. There are numerous advantages from using this new Commerce Cloud (with Microsoft Azur). These include having a centralised platform across the globe, a more agile IT system, less time spent on deploying applications, reduced costs by pooling servers and increased security.
“The Cloud is one of our five major commitments to help benefit everyone, along with innovation, international growth and the development of a global ecosystem dedicated specifically to retail,” concluded Nathalie Echinard, Cegid’s Retail Director, on the second day of the Cegid Connections conference.
Over the three days of debate, most acknowledged that the store remains the heart of retail – the hub of unified commerce! But so much more needs to be done to re-energize the shopping experience and make it “frictionless” and emotional.
This has led Cegid to launch two new and innovative offers. To support both the store’s and sales associate transformation, Cegid experts have developed Shopping, a new omnichannel point-of-sale solution. In addition, given the need for more agility and scalability, the group has partnered with Microsoft and Orange Business Services to deploy a global cloud solution dedicated to retail. These two new solutions are destined to help retailers transform their business models and accelerate innovation in an increasingly competitive world. In doing so, you’ll be a step closer to empowering your organisation tomorrow.