The pandemic rapidly accelerated the uptake of ecommerce globally, as shoppers moved online in the face of lockdown restrictions.
This shift in consumer behaviour – and expectation – means bricks-and-mortar stores have to try harder than ever to engage customers through innovative, creative and efficient in-store experiences.
Step forward Crew Clothing.
The fashion retailer claims to have “transformed” the shopping experience for its customers with a new, fully mobile, sales solution. These hand-held devices let staff serve customers from anywhere on the shop floor, serving as a replacement for traditional tills.
Initially designed for temporary events such as festivals and pop-up stores, over 100 Crew Clothing stores in the UK have now embraced the technology. To date, the in-house mobile system has processed more than 56,000 transactions.
According to Crew, the technology has also greatly improved customer service and eased the workload on staff, directly contributing to the company’s 22% improvement in turnover from pre-pandemic levels.
But what does the mobile sales solution entail and how does it benefit customers?
How Crew’s mobile checkouts came to fruition
During the pandemic, while many traditional stores were closed, pop-up shopping experiences at sporting events, festivals and markets became an increasingly valuable way for the company to serve customers, Crew Clothing head of IT Richard Surman tells Charged.
However, these venues demanded an alternative approach to POS, as a single, centralised system was more difficult to set up and didn’t match the experience that shoppers expected.
“To meet the needs of our customers at these events, we set about redesigning our shopping experience via a modern payment solution,” Surman says.
“We partnered with Couchbase and PMC, our technology services providers, to integrate a fully mobile sales solution and remove the fixed point of sale setup from our pop-up environments, simplifying the transaction process and creating a true customer-centric experience.”
What does Crew’s mobile solution entail?
Crew’s new mobile sales solution replaces the traditional sales till with a single hand-held tablet.
Through this tablet, staff are able to access all POS sale functions including sales, refunds, customer service and promotions.
Powered by Couchbase’s high-performance database, data can be accessed, processed, and synchronised whether devices are on- or offline, ensuring customers receive guaranteed uninterrupted service.
“The speed and accuracy of data processing and sharing in the new solution means that we can support shoppers across the shop floor, at every stage of the process: from selling and packing their basket to e-receipts,” Surman adds.
How does the solution benefit shoppers and enhance the customer experience?
According to Crew, the new sales system has significantly improved in-store operations and, by default, the customer experience.
“Instead of being constrained to a check-out area, our staff can roam the shop floor, engaging with customers and offering immediate purchasing opportunities – from fitting rooms to front of house, or wherever is most convenient for the customer,” Surman says.
“In addition, the solution design and integration have been so straightforward that our employees can use it with minimal training, which means they can be out on the floor and helping customers much faster and with greater confidence.”
As customers are no longer required to carry their purchases and queue up at a central payment point, staff are more accessible to answer questions and roam the store.
The lack of traditional sales tills also means there is more space in-store to dedicate to stock and clothing displays, to entice the customer.
Crew is planning to further expand its mobile sales solution, from 100 stores to all of its retail spaces across the UK.
The retailer still has traditional tills in some of its stores, for the purposes of cash and gift card transactions. However, as Crew makes the permanent transition to the new solution, all old tills will be removed within the next 12 months.
“To ensure a seamless customer experience, the new and old technologies were integrated at the early stage of the project,” Surman explains.
“This ensured that we could transition to the new mobile sales solution in a staged approach, reducing any impact at store level for customers.”
Crew is also in the process of integrating the solution with its gift card partner and trialling cash transaction processes at three of its stores.
The company is also working on adding the platform to its website, allowing customers to purchase items both instore and online within the same sales transaction.
Crew Clothing’s new sales solution has clearly resulted in significant, tangible benefits for the company and its success may inspire other retailers to adopt similar systems.
In a digitally-savvy world, consumers will continue to crave exciting and seamless in-store experiences. Retailers must simply decide which systems will work best for their brand and consumer base.