Picture the scene. Over 1,200 passengers have boarded your ferry, crossing from Gedser, Denmark to Rostock, Germany. From the minute they step foot on deck, you need to be ready to serve them, smoothly and efficiently. You need the kitchens for your onboard restaurants to be fully stocked. Food needs to be prepared, cooked and ready to go. The shelves in your stores need to be full. And your staff need to be briefed and have all the information and tools at hand to give your clientele the best onboard experience.
Time is of the essence. During the two-hour-long journey, you want your passengers to take full advantage of your onboard dining and retail outlets. You have a captive audience and you want them to be tempted to have a meal, shop in your duty-free stores and drink in the bar or café before they reach their destination.
On this particular occasion, you’re running a special promotion on a select range of fragrances. Word spreads, and a line forms as customers queue to take advantage of the offer. Staff quickly respond and open up extra tills to serve more customers. But an hour into the journey, things start to go wrong. You’ve underestimated how many units of perfume you’ll sell, and before the ship has reached its destination, you’ve run out of stock. The soonest you’ll be able to get more is when you dock on the return leg of your journey. Nightmare!
Not having the products your customers want at the very moment they want to buy them negatively impacts your bottom line. Worse, it has the potential to create a negative experience for passengers. So how could a situation like this be avoided?
Choosing the right POS for your business
Today, leading ferry businesses and travel retailers are investing in modern, future-proof Point of Sale (POS) systems, which give them full oversight of their business down to the smallest detail. Equipped with the information they need, they can ensure they are offering the right sales mix, clearly see where sales are being generated and understand buying patterns and shopper behaviors for better planning and forecasting, helping avoid out-of-stock situations.
We know there are many POS solutions on the market and choosing the right one to fit your precise needs can be difficult. Here are five key questions you should ask yourself as you evaluate options and make a decision.
1. Does it meet your specific retail requirements?
Travel retail has its own unique set of challenges. One of the main differences between travel and traditional retail is the window of opportunity you get to attract and engage your customers. During a ferry crossing or airport stay, your customers have a limited amount of time to browse your products and make a purchase. They’re a captive audience, but you only get the one opportunity to sell to them. They won’t be able to come back tomorrow if you haven’t got an item of clothing stocked in their size.
To maximize sales, you need an efficient till system and a data-driven platform, which provides the visibility you need to ensure you’re stocking the right products at the right time. Richer customer insights could be used to push targeted promotions and true data integration could help to increase the span of services you offer to customers, including the ability to pick up pre-ordered goods.
2. Can it offer multi-industry support and functionality?
It’s not unusual for travel retailers to operate in more than one industry. Indeed, many not only run retail stores but restaurants and cafés too. Ideally, you need a solution which can be tailored and optimized for each different industry, from retail and hospitality to services such as bookings and reservations, but still allows you to manage everything from a single platform. The system needs to be flexible, able to adapt to different scenarios, and provide your staff with role-tailored experiences which help them to serve customers easier and faster.
Make sure your technology provider understands the unique differences between retail and catering so you don’t end up with a one-size-fits-all system. Not only do you need a full retail management system, but one which also offers capabilities including menu management, food planning, ingredients tracking and display management.
3. Is it a truly global solution?
Ensure you choose a solution which can manage all of your requirements around currency, tax and customs regulations, regardless of the region you’re operating in. It must allow you to offer your customers a variety of payment options and accept multi-currency without any hassle.
In airport duty-free shops, you need a POS which can correctly process varying item allowances and different taxation rules according to your customers’ nationality and travel routes. Onboard a ferry or cruise ship, you need to be able plan your routes and automatically create specific tax rules according to where you travel to and from. All of this needs to be handled as smoothly and seamlessly as possible, so make sure you select a POS that comes with the correct setup and is ready for your staff to provide customers with the best possible service, while keeping human error to a minimum.
4. How will it help your staff deliver the best possible customer experience?
If you only get one chance to sell to your customers, you need everything in place to take full advantage. Ensure your staff have access to reliable, up-to-the-minute data so they can confidently give customers the information they need. Equip them with effective cross-selling and upselling tools so they can suggest items which will go well together and make your customers feel like they’re getting a personal service. Make regular customers feel special and give new ones the best impression so they’re encouraged to buy.
Across your retail outlets, restaurants and cafés you need to be able to offer a seamless customer experience where everything, from offers and promotions to loyalty programs, is consistent and connected. Give your staff the ability to accept a wide variety of different payments, from standard cards and cash, all the way to vouchers and even loyalty points.
5. Is the technology flexible and future proof?
And finally, consider whether the technology you’re investing in now will stand you in good stead for the future.
Travel retail is booming at the moment. In 2017, the global sector’s market value was US$74.9 billion. By 2025, it is expected to reach US$153.7 billion. Retailers and brands have a real opportunity to grow their business in this space and give customers the experiences they want. But they need to be able to rely on future-proof technology which will support them as they expand and grow. Ensure your platform will allow you to easily add new functionality, expand into new markets and make unified commerce a reality. The technology is out there; you just need to find the right partner.
If you want to find out about our POS solutions designed specifically for travel retail, get in touch. We’d like to discuss with you how can help your business grow.