Our company conference conneXion Iceland just closed its doors after two days, over 45 sessions, and more than 540 participants from 42 countries.
During the conference one of the key topics of discussion was the future of retail and hospitality, and what kind of technologies will help operators stay ahead.
Unified commerce is expanding to hospitality
Shopping experiences increasingly blend digital and physical – people want the convenience of online, but they also like to touch products, see what they plan to buy in real life, and have meaningful interactions.
We at LS Retail have been anticipating the merging of digital and physical retail for a long time. Our Unified Commerce solutions enables retailers to use the same technology stack across the enterprise, from physical stores to eCommerce, for any retail industry – grocery, fashion, travel retail, health & beauty – you name it.
Unified commerce is taking over – and we are now expanding its capabilities to other industries. LS Central now helps you deliver Unified Experiences – the Unified Commerce concept applied to the hospitality industry. This means that hotels and resorts can finally use just one platform that unites: ERP, PMS, retail functionality, food and beverage capabilities, and management of amenities such as spa reservations, golf course bookings, rentals, and other services.
SaaS and the cloud
Software as a service (SaaS) will increasingly become the norm for deployments. For retail and hospitality businesses, this makes complete sense.
The total cost of ownership is very attractive. Deployments are simple. Updates happen monthly, and require no effort. IT management is minimal – because Microsoft takes care of it. The performance is good, and it keeps getting better.
We launched LS Central SaaS three years ago, and since then we’ve expanded its availability to 36 countries. The maturity of the SaaS solution has grown a lot in last twelve months, both from the LS Retail side and the Microsoft side. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS can now handle more users and more workload than ever before, and the database engine can handle more transactions, and automatically scale up as needed. The same applies to the service tiers – they can handle increased loads automatically without manual intervention.
Self-service and the unattended POS
Contactless and self-service shopping options are increasingly popular. This is just the beginning: we believe that the future of the POS is unattended.
There are many ways to do contactless shopping – and we support several of them.
- Self-service register. You just need a scanner and a payment terminal. Then you simply configure the LS Central POS to work in self-service mode. The customer can then scan their basket, press pay, and voilà. This is a simple setup, ideal for businesses that don’t have special requirements such as integrations to scales.
- Integration to self-checkout machines. If you need more functionality, for example because you operate in the grocery and convenience space and need to integrate to dedicated scanner scale units, you’ll be glad to learn we are launching an integration of LS Central to self-checkout machines from Diebold Nixdorf, Toshiba, and NRC.
- ScanPayGo, a mobile application that shoppers can use on their own device. Once the app is installed on the smartphone, the customer can use the phone’s camera to scan items. When it’s time to check out, they can either pay with the app’s built-in payment integration, or using a (manned or unmanned) terminal in the store.
- Ordering kiosks, increasingly common in parks, museums, and quick-service restaurants. We have created a simplified user interface using our web templates which allows the user to enter the order using a touch-screen interface. Once the order is sent and payment has been finalized, the kiosk can either print out the tickets or send the order to the kitchen.
Insights on top of processes
In an increasingly complex world, companies need to use intelligent insight to understand their data and know how to use it to reach their goals.
In the past few months, we’ve been enhancing our Intelligent Cloud solutions, so they can provide even better insights.
- LS Insight is our data warehouse and analytics platform based on Azure SQL and Microsoft Power BI. It now offers 78 reports in 5 report packs, all of which use the latest advancements from Power BI.
- LS Recommend is an intelligent engine that provides consumers with meaningful product recommendations based on sales history, both on the POS and on the eCommerce. We’ve just released a completely new version that supports LS Central SaaS, without DLLs. We’ve also simplified the setup process and drastically reduced calculation time, to the point that it now takes just half an hour to calculate 100 million transaction sales tines – that’s equivalent to one year of sales history of a retailer with 200 convenience stores.
- LS Forecast is our sales demand forecasting solution, which helps retailers avoid out-of-stock situations and increase product availability. We have introduced several performance improvements and have changed its price model to better suit both smaller and large retailers.
We are also releasing a new solution, Actionable insights, which transforms data in LS Central to insights on top of processes.
Next step: universal code
LS Central keeps on growing, with more functionality in the solution, more businesses using it, and the fastest release cycle we’ve ever had, thanks to an almost-fully automated release process.
In the fall 2022, we’ll hit a major milestone with LS Central, as it will become officially compliant with the new Microsoft Universal Code guidelines. “Universal code” means that all code is done using extensions, with no changes to the base Microsoft Business Central application. Universal code is future proof, and it can run both on-prem and in the cloud.
Having both on-prem and cloud availability is important to us. We are still committed to our hybrid-cloud strategy, which enables our customers to mix SaaS-based back-office with an on-prem POS installation. LS Central SaaS and LS Central on-prem still share the same codebase and the same functionalities. The only difference is how they are hosted.
Retail and hospitality businesses need technology that keeps them up to date, agile, and gives them clear visibility over their data – and helps them use that information to grow. As the world keeps on changing, we stay at the forefront, and events like conneXion are a prime occasion to share our knowledge and innovation with our partner and customer