How to optimise your in store ticketing process
Since making this blog post, SignIQ has changed its name to Last Yard.
Business is riding a digital innovation wave, automation is spoken about and sought after everywhere, in retail this is no different. Lowering costs, increasing basket size and improving service are constant requirements. For the brick and mortar store, digital has seemingly brought with it more competition than straight up benefits and the costs of some such benefits have prohibited their uptake.
But not everything need be a costly investment. One area of retail which is often overlooked for other back office, warehousing, marketing and online projects, is in fact the one area that is central to the entire business. The shelf edge.
Let's look at two retailers preparing for a promotion cycle, both retailers are a part of a larger buying group.
Retailer A needs to print the promotional talkers for the upcoming cycle from their point of sale system, the prices having been sent through from head office. The promotion consists of catalogue specials, temporary price reductions and everyday low price.
The retailer needs to print these on the pre-printed stationery stock of each promotion type, in the applicable talker sizes that match their store layout, A4, 3up, 9up. The retailer does this, searching for the items to print by promo type and date periods, babysitting the printer to swap out the paper stock of the printer where needed. Other than the size and colour of the stock, the information on the talker looks the same, there is the product description, the sell price and when appropriate, the saving.
Retailer A has been doing this for years, they know how to search the POS and the printer did not jam or need them to replace the ink. They are finished printing in one hour. The tickets are not in any particular order that makes it easier to walk the store to put them up, the retailer takes the tickets home to tear, cut and sort them whilst they watch TV, this may take a few hours.
When it's time to put the new tickets up, the retailer needs to also make sure that any older and outdated tickets are removed, if the tickets have expiration dates on them this makes it easier but each ticket needs to be checked, this takes extra care and time. Ticketing the store takes several hours.
The retailer looks through the upcoming catalogue, they notice that some of the tickets they just put up have a different price, they also notice that the catalogue has products in there that the system did not have as being on promotion. The retailer checks the POS again, they didn't make a mistake, the price in the POS is different and items are missing from the promotion. The retailer has to get in contact with the head office to confirm what has happened, if the retailer is lucky the system will be corrected by the next day.
In addition to the catalogue promotion the retailer has their own promotions to execute. There is stock they need to clear so they want to mark them as "clearance," there are also items that they would like to promote, either because they have better margin or those items are more desired by the residents in the area. The POS system is limited in the type of style it can produce for tickets and the retailer wants something that is different. They use a word document they have put together as a template and manually type out each ticket.
Overall the entire process may take several days, shoppers that come into the store are familiar with the style of ticketing and they mostly know what they want to buy, they pay little attention to the talkers as they contains simple information and are not compelling to look at.
Retailer B in the meantime is not much better off than retailer A. For the most part they follow the same process, with one exception. Retailer B does not print their promotional talkers from their POS system, all their promotional tickets are mailed to them from head office. The tickets however are still not in any particular order so they still need to be sorted. Head office also needs to provide tickets for all possible options, a one size fits all approach. They do not know the stores specific setup so tickets for a product are provided in A4, 3up and 9up. The retailer throws away to recycling more than half of the tickets provided because they are not required.
Retailer B also noticed that their pack was missing tickets, they need to wait for those that are missing to be sent out. They also need to print their own tickets for promotions they want to run themselves.
Where everything else is equal, retailer A & B can expect the same outcomes from their stores as they have in the past.
Let's consider a third option, represented by Retailer C. Retailer C along with their group has changed the processes involved with ticketing and they have done the following:
1. Swapped from pre-printed stock to blank perforated stock, allowing tickets to be printed as needed via colour printer at the store.
Blank perforated paper means there is less paper stock to manage when printing and easy to tear paper means no time needs to be spent cutting. Furthermore, the retailer has little to no need to refer back to head office for missing tickets, they can now produce what they need, when they need it. This has reduced the logistics associated with pre-printed operations, reducing costs, time required and wastage.
2. Added a ticketing system that specifically caters for shelf edge promotions.
Store users can now print in planogram or category specific orders reducing the need to manually sort tickets.
The store managers and group have also considered the design and impact of their tickets. Tickets are now clearly marked with indicators that help staff notice what tickets should be pulled down each week.
Use of varied design and colour also allow the ticket to "pop" more and display more influential information to the shopper. The tickets are considered by the shopper and give the retailer more opportunity to sell and have items added to the basket.
The retailer can also use the same system to produce tickets for their own promotional needs outside of the catalogue. These tickets match the style of every other ticket in the store and the process to generate them is the same.
The system is easy enough to use that any staff member in store can produce and print if required, meaning that the task does not have to always fall to the store or department manager.
The ticket design can be updated regularly to maintain a fresh look with shoppers to help keep them engaged and looking for deals.
Retailer C has not had to put in electronic shelf labels or cover the shelf edge in digital shelf labels to reduce costs, increase basket size or improve service. There were simpler, more cost effective changes available to them for a better result.
Change the process, change the outcome.