Retail Accounting

Retail Accounting news – brought to you by CounterBooks –

Leave a comment

Business Integration in the Retail Industry


Leave a comment

Petroleum retailers ENOC expand in to the convenience sector

Here’s an interesting video about how ENOC are diversifying to adapt to customers’ changing needs:

Leave a comment

Wincor Nixdorf Enters MobileWallet Space

Service Station Suite provides platform for combining mobile payment and loyalty solution.

Wincor Nixdorf Logo

Wincor Nixdorf Inc., a leading provider of IT solutions and services to retailers and retail banks, is rolling out the Wincor Wallet for mobile cashless payments in all retail sales channels, including gas stations. It turns the smart-phone into a wallet. The Wincor Wallet is integrated into the TP Application Suite, the software platform for retail companies, and in the Service Station Suite (NAMOS) for fuel station companies.

Whether in stationary retail, web shops or mobile stores, the Wincor Wallet can be accessed for mobile payment by all standard smart-phones through the use of QR codes or near-field communication (NFC) technology.

The Wincor Nixdorf’s Payment Gateway server operating in the background enables the solution. In addition to processing traditional, card-based payments, this also allows modern Wallet transactions to be processed in an IT environment certified by the Payment Card Industry (PCI), which ensures the security of the cashless transactions.

The Wincor Wallet provides a platform for combining different mobile payment and loyalty solutions such as mobile use of debit or credit cards, mobile coupons or redeeming mobile vouchers at the checkout via smart-phone, the company said.

“Retailers and service station companies thus have a platform that they can adapt individually to offer their customers optimum payment convenience and set themselves apart from the competition,” said Jurgen Manske, senior solution manager of retail at Wincor Nixdorf.

Austin, Texas-based Wincor Nixdorf USA will introduce this checkout-independent payment solution at the upcoming National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention & Expo in New York City from Jan. 13-16, 2013.

Leave a comment

Why Square Is Getting Into Gift Cards

Mobile-payment service Square has launched a new way to pay for products with its Square Wallet app: gift cards.

square app gift cards

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman of Twitter and founder and chief executive officer of Square.

Here’s how it works: Any Square user can send someone a “gift card” for a store that’s personalized via Square’s mobile Wallet application.

Upon receiving the gift card, it’s added to a user’s Square Wallet. Or the recipient can opt for a digital QR code — a kind of special barcode — to pay for something like a cup of coffee at the participating store.

A major purpose behind the new gift cards component is to help users discover new stores, said Square CEO Jack Dorsey. “If I really like a place and I’m a good friend of yours, I can tell you, but if I give you a gift card you’re really going to try it out,” he said.

Square Wallet is a mobile application that essentially lets users pay for products at a store using Square without taking their wallet out. The app notifies registers that the shopper is in the store. Adding gift cards was an important way to continue to promote its growth through word-of-mouth, Dorsey said.

We caught up with Dorsey to find out the why gift cards are an important part of the equation for Square. Here’s an edited transcript of the interview:

WSJ: Let’s start with the what — gift cards?

Jack Dorsey: Square has always been about giving more local businesses and people with intent to start something an easy way to get started immediately. We started with the card reader, and built a full point-of-sale, a wallet, and the reason is because it’s traditionally been extremely difficult to even start accepting credit cards. My parents both were entrepreneurs, my dad started a pizza restaurant at 19, and both had to deal with all these issues in addition to accepting payments. Any payment device that comes over the counter, a merchant should be able to accept it, and they should be able to accept more and more options.

So we launched gift cards. You go to a local place and they’ll have hand-written gift certificates or are issuing plastic cards, which is extremely expensive. They usually get charged 10% to 15% to issue those cards, so we’re doing it the same as a credit card, 2.75%. Anyone can buy it from their phone, it literally takes less than 30 seconds to buy a gift and send it to a family member or friend. We think all of this just brings more commerce to the world, but it brings new options to merchants. Just even getting started is a nightmare. The same was true of credit cards — people were paying 3% to upwards of 8% to accept cards, and Square brought it down to 2.75%. Free reader, free software.

You personalize it with an envelope, a message. You can redeem it in the wallet, you can redeem it via Passbook or print out a QR code and show it to the merchant. It degrades gracefully to whatever device someone has.

WSJ: Why gift cards? How does that help your customers?

JD: The biggest problem merchants have is being remembered and being discovered, so it’s another tool for discovery. If I really like a place and I’m a good friend of yours, I can tell you, but if I give you a gift card you’re really going to try it out. There’s an experience there waiting for you. You don’t have to do much. It’s a tool for merchants to make sure they have more and more people they’re aware of. It also starts getting into a concept of more remote commerce. People from their couch can send these experiences, can send these gifts, and they don’t need to pick out different things. They can just go have their own experience.

WSJ: Is there an incentive for merchants to push this to their customers?

JD: It’s mainly around discovery. It’s been in our top five feature requests for merchants. In the past they’ve done gift certificates, they have all these different systems. This just makes it easy.

WSJ: It works with Starbucks SBUX -1.28% too, right?

JD: I just bought one this morning, there’s 7,000 places you can use this. Both teams have worked together, it’s some of the best collaboration we’ve seen. Without a hitch, the scale has been amazing, in three months.

Originally, Starbucks came to us and asked if they could sign up for Square. The other thing is, they’re one of the most innovative about payments and technology in retail. Also, they have great values and purpose, so it’s a very easy partnership. That made things move very quickly.

WSJ: How big is Square now?

JD: We have 450 employees now.

WSJ: How about expansion. Do you want to rely on word-of-mouth? Any plans to roll out a salesforce?

JD: We’ve been fortunate with the organic growth. We think that’ll continue. It’s not about building a good base, it’s about really connecting you to the wallet and adding things like gift cards and rewards that will link to the wallet. It’s that span on the other side of the counter that makes it magic. That’s what gets people to really invest more. If you’re just getting the point of sale, it doesn’t necessarily get you more customers, and that’s what merchants want. If you don’t have a new experience coming in, it doesn’t translate to massive growth we believe. It’s why we decided not to focus just on building a credit card terminal. We focused on doing the entire thing, that’s what moves the needle. It might take a little longer than people on the street, but that word-of-mouth spread from people that love it will be faster than any sales force.

WSJ: What about data — Square has a lot of it on the buyer and seller side. What are you doing with it?

JD: The merchant analytics is a big part of why people choose Square in the first place. There’s a rich dashboard that identifies the busiest hours and days. There’s an example of a company in St. Louis who realized tracking their hours with Square, that closing at 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. was cutting off 20% of their business. It’s really simple stuff merchants don’t have access to. That’s on the seller side, but you can imagine equally compelling data on the consumer side. Obviously you can imagine introductions. We have all that data, we just haven’t surfaced it.

WSJ: Any plans to use it? Sell it as an extra product to merchants?

JD: We’ve explored a lot of those models. I think there might be something there. We’ve definitely thought a lot about it.

WSJ: Square Wallet will recommend a lot of places to shop. Is that a curated experience?

JD: Right now, if you do the work to put up a really beautiful image, we’ll feature you. We’re looking to make sure they have this beautiful image and then edit it up. More and more we’ll bake in algorithms to do it automatically. We’ve thought a lot about the directory as well, introductions, and ways to drive people to certain locations.

WSJ: Back to gift cards — how did the conversation with Chase go?

JD: They love it. The banks generally love any model because all they care about at the end of the day is bank accounts and deposits. What’s really interesting for them is merchants using Chase for their banking services. Visa and MasterCard also MA +0.73% love it because people are using credit cards to buy these gift cards. They’re using their networks. There’s no ill will — the Visa and MasterCard gift cards are interesting — but we wanted to make something that’s really personal. We can buy a Visa gift card and use it at any merchant, but it’s more saying, “I just don’t know what to give you.” We wanted to be a lot more thoughtful and give merchants a tool to promote their business. A dedicated gift card is a way to do that.

The more anonymous it is, the more systematic it feels. This is a product where the experience really matters. We put a lot of extra work into the animations, into how the envelopes are received and open. We’re pretty proud of how it works.

Leave a comment

10 Global Macro Trends for the Next Five Years

Despite the uncertainties facing the global economy, certain trends are inevitable. The world will become smaller, more aged, more city-focused, more cautious and more polarised between the rich and poor. The climate will change, food prices will rise andMacro Trends economic power will shift from West to East.

In our recent report, 10 Global Macro Trends for the Next Five Years, Euromonitor International has identified the following ten macro trends as being key to the future growth of consumer markets:

1. An uncertain future
Both political and economic uncertainty are at their highest level for years, and the situation is expected to continue with flow on effects for consumers who in view of uncertain times may well exercise caution when making purchasing decisions.

2. The emerging middle classes
The expansion of the middle classes in developing markets has been one of the key outcomes of economic growth, as huge swathes of these populations move out of poverty and form an increasingly demanding and sophisticated consumer base.

3. The disaffected youth
One of the key outcomes of the recession for advanced economies is the lack of decent prospects for young people, who face high unemployment, tuition fees, rising living costs, a lack of affordable housing and the burden of supporting ageing populations in the future.

4. The rich/poor divide
Inequality has been in evidence for a number of years, but is increasingly becoming a focus of social unrest and media interest. Reasons for inequality include changes in employment patterns, disproportionate wage increases, technological progress, urbanisation, government policies and demographic factors.

5. The climate challenge
Increasingly erratic weather patterns and rising sea levels will be one of the largest threats to populations over the next five years and beyond. Most notably, droughts and floods will continue to cause havoc with food crops, affecting food prices in the years to come.

6. An ageing world
A combination of low birth rates and longer life expectancies is driving the ageing process. Ageing populations will impact future economic growth prospects, due to reduced labour forces and lower savings and investment rates. At the same time, age-related public expenditure is projected to increase strongly.

7. The urban transition
Although urbanisation is another long-term trend, its pace has speeded up noticeably in recent years and city growth has reached unprecedented levels in emerging markets. The exodus from countryside to cities is largely driven by a desire for economic empowerment. The global shift towards urban living is shaping consumer markets and demand.

8. People on the move
As the world becomes smaller, while travel gets cheaper and restrictions more relaxed, more people are choosing to live, study or work abroad. Continued migration has a significant impact on economies, marketers and consumers alike. Greater ethnic diversity offers marketers a wealth of opportunities.

9. A more connected world
The internet is increasingly being accessed via smartphones and tablets, as consumers seek convenience and mobility. Almost one third of global on-line consumers now have internet access on their mobile phones. Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are changing the way people interact with one another. A successful social media strategy will be a top priority for companies globally.

10. China goes global
China’s overseas investments were previously concentrated on developing countries and a handful of resource-rich developed economies, such as Australia and Canada, but since 2008 the focus of Chinese investors has begun to shift to North America and Europe. Several Chinese brands have entered the global arena and are looking to challenge the positions of established international brands. Experts expect Chinese companies’ investments overseas to see explosive growth in the next decade.

Leave a comment

Redundancies in Bread Division Announced by Premier Foods

Hovis BreadPremier Foods to cut 900 jobs in the bread making division

Hovis owner Premier Foods has announced it will close two of its bakeries, putting 900 jobs up for redundancy.

The biggest impact will be in Birmingham, where 511 jobs are to be lost with the closure of a factory and distribution operation.

Another 196 jobs will be lost in Hovis operations at Greenford, west London, as well as another 95 job cuts from distribution sites at Plymouth and Mendlesham, Suffolk.

The job cuts won’t take effect before Christmas, as a consultation process will have to be completed first, but will take place next year.

The news wasn’t a surprise for most, as Premier Foods has spoken regularly about the increased competition Hovis faces in the UK market, and the troubles which have hit the price and production of bread in the past few years, such as poor grain harvests.

Almost half of Premier Foods 10,000 employees work in the bread division.

The loss of a lucrative £75m-a-year contract with a major grocery chain, reported to be the Cooperative according to the Mirror, was revealed earlier this year, after Premier said it had been unable to secure suitable conditions.

According to the Mirror, the deal went instead to Allied Bakeries, which makes Kingsmill and Allinsons and is part of ­Associated British Foods.

The Premier chief executive, Michael Clarke, said: “We recognise the impact these actions will have for our employees at the sites affected.

“Decisions will not be taken lightly, but they are necessary if we are to build a strong and successful future for the bread division and those who remain with our business.”

Premier Foods has also sold a number of its well known pickle brands to Japanese firm Mizkan in the past year, including Branston’s, Haywards and Sarson’s vinegar, as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce company debt.

1 Comment

Self Checkouts – when do they work?

Seven steps to Self Checkout heaven (or hell?)self-checkout

Most customers have probably been forced into trying them by now and love them or hate them. If you’re thinking of installing one to improve customer flow through the till area than you may want to consider the following:

1.    High flow, low value sales

In these circumstances the self checkout approach can work quite well. For example the lunch time rush hour where people are buying sandwiches and a drink. In large cities such as London it is not uncommon to see ranks of self service checkouts which are being utilised almost at full capacity from 12.00 until 14.00. The rest of the day they may be relatively unused and when installing you should consider how long it will take for a return on investment if the POS only boosts through flow for short periods of the day. You will of course have significant savings in the number of part time staff required to service customers at peak times.

2.    Credit card only

Couple this with a near field reader for low value purchases and things can really begin to speed up in the lunch hour. The down side is you will still need manned tills to handle sales to traditionalists paying cash.

3.    How many customers will walk out?

Some customers will refuse to use self service either from fear of the technology or previous bad experiences. In many cases they will dump and walk if there is a long queue at the single manned till and we all know that means you probably won’t be seeing them again, ever.

4.    Consider the demographics of your customers?

More mature customers are generally resistant to change but often spend proportionally more than their younger counterparts. If you are sited near a retirement village automation may not be the best way forward

5.    Age restricted goods

Alcohol and tobacco are the main items to consider. In the case of alcohol self checkout is possible in most countries but you will need staff on hand to quickly authorise the customer as being old enough to buy the product. As self checkout is being promoted as fast and easy any delay is annoying not just for the customer at the checkout but also those queuing behind.

Tobacco is more complicated as automatic cigarette machines are still commonly available in many countries but in others where restrictions are tighter and sales are either dark (the buyer is protected from seeing the product, for example in Ireland) or plain packaged (being introduced in Australia) the restrictions probably mean a manned tobacco kiosk will always be required.

6.    Are your bar codes clear?

Probably the biggest crime! If the scanner can’t read the bar code it’s unlikely the customer will be able to type the code in instead. This will lead to two problems:

  • They reject the item and you lose the sale of the item
  • It happens more than once and they dump the complete shop

The only way round this is to have enough staff available to help – but then reducing staffing was the reason for installing the self checkout in the first place.

7.    And the most frustrating problem….

The customer has managed to scan in twenty items with some difficulty. A member of staff has had to authorise a bottle of wine and the bar code wouldn’t read on a packet of meat. They come to pay and either the note reader or credit card reader refuses to work. Do you think they will come back tomorrow?


Working well in the right environment self checkouts will boost sales and reduce staffing costs. Get them wrong and you risk losing customers permanently. What you think, any other suggestions?