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Technology has given us access to more ways to learn, connect and collaborate than ever before. With resources like online videos, webinars, podcasts, blogs and videoconferencing at the tip of our fingers, one might ask: is it really still worth spending time and money to attend conferences in person?

A tough question, with an easy answer: yes, it is.

Here are 5 reasons why you really should go ahead and book those tickets.

1. Expand your network

The top benefit of attending a conference? The networking opportunities. While technology like email or Skype is great for instant communication, when it comes to taking important business decisions, starting new ventures, or building connections, nothing beats a real-life, face-to-face meeting. Social media can help us stay connected – but it tends to only work with the people we already know. It’s hard to expand your networks online. On the other hand, at conferences, you can catch up with old acquaintances, meet old friends, and have them introduce you to new ones. Most importantly, you can get a feel for a person, and perhaps use your charisma to seal that deal which you just were unable to close via email and Skype meetings. Business, we all know it, is made by people. It’s only in person that you get the chance to leave a lasting impression of you and your company. And don’t forget that by attending conference you don’t only get the opportunity to meet the right people. You also get the chance to let the right people find you.

2. Sharpen your focus

Even if you are the kind of person who thrives in daily routine, it’s always a good idea to take a break from your habits. When you work on the same things, the same way, day in day out, you risk end up operating on auto-pilot. You might be efficient – but at the risk of creativity and innovation. Get out of the office, break the pattern, challenge yourself looking at how other professionals in your field do things, and ask yourself tough questions. It might be hard – but it will be worth it. You will go back with fresh ideas, and a sharper focus.

3. Take the time to dive deep

How often do you register to an online webinar, and then end up not attending? “I’ll watch the recording,” you say. Days pass, deadlines come and go, and the webinar link slowly goes forgotten in your email inbox, buried by more urgent tasks.

At a conference, you have no excuses, and no way of getting distracted by that urgent email, or the last-minute meeting that disrupts your plans. Once there, you can really take the time to develop your skills, and delve into the content. You could join a session on a topic you have always wanted to learn about, but never had the time, or spend a couple of hours in a hands-on workshop that can  help develop your professional skills. And during the breaks you have the opportunity to chat with your peers, and get a feeling for what people in your industry are talking about. This is your time: use it wisely to invest in yourself, professionally and personally.

4. Find solutions to your pain points

You may not be the only one facing a specific challenge in your industry. However, while locked up in your office, looking at how much better the competition is doing, you risk feeling you are the only one facing these specific problems.

Attend the right conference, and you are bound to experience at least one “Eureka!” moment when you realize that you are not alone, and there is a solution to your woes. Perhaps it will be a great session with the insights you needed to solve your issues. Perhaps you will discover, while talking to an expert at the event, that there is new technology that can solve all your pain points. Or maybe you will realize, while chatting in the hallways, that the issues you are facing are common to all your peers. One thing is sure: you will not find a breakthrough, or get the industry chatter, while sitting alone at your desk.

5. Get the information you really need, neatly packaged for you

Today, research engines can deliver all the information you need straight to your desk. Too much information, actually. Let’s admit it: nobody really has the time to go through all the newsletters and headlines, and find that piece that will really help you and your business. So, how do you weed out the noise, and find the articles that deliver the information that is valuable to you?
At a focused industry conference, you get all the latest information, technology, best practices on exactly the topics that matter to you – neatly packaged under one roof.

No need to waste time searching for valuable content: you can just focus on absorbing.

Make the most out of your participation at conneXion Munich!

conneXion Munich is coming up! On April 3-4 the LS Retail community will meet at the Westin Grand Munich for two days of sessions, workshops, a retail and hospitality tech expo, and of course plenty of networking opportunities.

Here are our top tips to make sure you get the most out the conference.

  • Plan your schedule. Choose carefully which sessions or workshops you want to attend. Make sure you pick topics that are relevant to you – but don’t be afraid of trying something new, too! The workshops have limited seats available, so if you are thinking of attending any, secure your spot as soon as possible!
  • Don’t be shy. Do you have a question? Ask away! Do you have feedback to deliver about the event, or a specific LS Retail product? Just stop any LS Retail employee (easily identified by their nametag), and give them your comments. They will be happy to help – and you will be glad you took the opportunity to speak up.
  • Maximize your networking opportunities. Talk to the people in the hallways, join conversations, and don’t hesitate to ask LS Retail staff members to introduce you to other attendees. Are you hoping to meet someone in specific? Then it pays off to do your research beforehand. On the conneXion app you can check who else is going to attend, and if you wish, connect with them directly.
  • Don’t miss out on the entertainment! We know it – after a full day of learning, we have all been tempted to stay in the room and catch up on emails. But that’s a terrible mistake to make! Personal connections are a big part of business – and nothing beats the connections made in front of a nice dinner, or during a cocktail party. Relax for a while, unwind, but make sure to show up at the events. This might be your chance to make that connection that dramatically impacts your professional career.
  • Share your learnings. Write a blog, jot a quick post, snap a few of the most interesting slides. Whatever you decide to do, don’t keep your learnings from yourself! Once you write stuff down to share with others, you better understand it, and remember it later. Use the official hashtag #cXMunich to make sure that everyone who might be interested, including your team back home, can get the key takeaways, and be inspired too.

We look forward to seeing you in Munich on April 3-4, 2019! If you haven’t registered yet, you should book a seat now – you will thank yourself later for having invested in your professional future!

Want to learn more about LS Retail software solutions?

Join us at conneXion Munich on 3-4 April 2019, LS Retail conference and expo dedicated to partners, retailers and food service businesses from all over the world. Come to Munich and find out how the right technology can help you boost your sales and easily manage your business from front to back-office.

The post 5 reasons why attending on-site industry conferences still makes sense in 2019 appeared first on LS Retail.

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In today’s fast-paced retail environment, productivity is critical to success. Yet, too many businesses are still using yesterday’s tools – and unsurprisingly, they are finding it harder and harder to stay on top.

Three years ago, Microsoft set out on a mission to increase business agility by reinventing business processes.

Enter Microsoft Dynamics 365.

The idea was to do away with the siloed, badly integrated business apps most businesses are using, and which kill productivity day in, day out. To make work quicker and more efficient, all these disjointed apps should be united into a single experience. The unified view helps simplify management, cut the time spent looking for data across multiple systems, grant a better overview of the enterprise and its customers, and speed up change and innovation.

The business solution for the modern workplace

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is an intelligent cloud platform that combines all of Microsoft’s most popular and advanced technology, from Azure cloud services, to Office 365, to the Dynamics ERPs, to CRM, AI, Business Intelligence, and more. All of this is offered as a single experience linked by a common data model.

Since its release in 2016, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has launched not only a new way to be productive, but also a fresh approach to how business software is sold and consumed. Microsoft Dynamics 365 has brought the ERP to the cloud, and tied it to all the intelligent tools available there: think advanced analytics, Business Intelligence, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence tools. Today, retailers can choose if they want to run their ERP on-premises or in the cloud, and no matter which deployment option they choose, they can tap into the resources that run in the intelligent cloud.

Built for growth and speed

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is built upon the concepts of scalability, enhanced productivity, and intelligence.

Scalability

One of the reasons behind the success of Dynamics 365 is its flexibility. The system is designed as a series of plug-and-play business apps, where you can use only the capabilities you need, when you need them, and pay only for what you require.

Then, as you grow and your business needs evolve, you have the option to extend the system. Microsoft AppSource, the official marketplace for Dynamics business apps, lists hundreds of vertical and horizontal extensions and add-ons built by Microsoft partners. Dynamics 365 users can pick and mix the apps that best fit their business needs (for example, if you were a small retailer you would want to extend your ERP with a Point of Sale app like LS Express). And as business processes across all applications are integrated by a Common Data Model, you can add extensions quickly and easily, without any disruption to your business.

Productivity

Dynamics 365 is seamlessly integrated with Microsoft Office 365, PowerBI, Flow, PowerApps, and the Microsoft intelligent cloud. All of these tools now work together in a single environment, accelerating collaboration and speed. Yesterday, a retailer or restaurateur might have had to look for a bill in Outlook, copy it onto an Excel file, compare the information to the one in the ERP, edit the figure if it didn’t match, and then copy the data into another email in Outlook. As a result, a lot of time would be wasted on a simple task. Today, with Dynamics 365, the same business manager can access a sales order inside an email, amend it, and resend it without ever leaving Outlook. As Office 365 is integrated to the Dynamics 365 platform, the intelligent system takes care of finding the sales order in the ERP and making the requested changes. The ability to accomplish daily tasks like these in a single environment saves users a lot of time, and drastically decreases the risk of errors.

Dynamics 365 is also accessible on any type of device. This means you can stay productive and engaged with your business, keeping track of orders, approving quotes, and viewing your Power BI dashboards wherever you are, whenever you want.

Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is embedded in the whole Dynamics 365 solution stack. AI enables businesses to transform their data into actionable insights, predict outcomes, and simplify daily tasks. For example, AI tools can be used to forecast delays in deliveries or payments, so a retailer or restaurant manager can better predict and manage cash flow. AI can also improve productivity, for instance with software that understands what you are looking for, and helps you find the information you need quickly and easily. Thanks to machine learning algorithms, these systems also learn from experience, becoming more and more efficient – and indispensable to the bottom line – the longer you use them.

Two versions

The Dynamics 365 ERPs are available in two versions: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, designed for the enterprise market, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, for medium-sized to larger businesses.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations

Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations is the latest incarnation of Microsoft Dynamics AX, and it is generally suited for complex business requirements and global financial management. This is a large, scalable solution which can be customized with a variety of modules. One such module is LS First Hospitality, our powerful food service solution for QSR and fast casual restaurants, which is showcased on AppSource as an extension for Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Dynamics 365 Business Central is the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, one of the most installed mid-market ERP systems in the world.

Business Central is available both on-premises and in the cloud as a single product, with the same codebase. The shared codebase also opens the possibility of hybrid implementations, whereby businesses can design their preferred mix of on-premises and cloud-based tools. The hybrid way enables retailers to leverage the benefits of a true cloud solution, while maintaining their current on-premises infrastructure. “The hybrid deployment is a great solution for retailers that want to explore the advantages of the intelligent cloud, while limiting risk and keeping control over their data,” says Martin Kleindl, Product Director at LS Retail. “A retailer might decide to run the system, and maintain their business data, on premises, while leveraging intelligent tools and services in the cloud such as PowerBI, machine learning services, Flow, and more.” The latest version of LS Central (previously known as LS Nav) was released in January 2019.

Moving to a new way of doing business

Business is changing. To keep up, you need to equip yourself with tools that enable you to use the data you collect to understand your customers, get a unified view of your business, and take quick, smart decisions.

The Dynamics 365 stack represents a great opportunity for retailers and food service businesses: they can now upgrade to a modern solution which has the same flexibility of use and rich functionality they are used to – and with automatic upgrades, more intelligent tools, and better performance to boot. And with our unified commerce platform LS Central, there is no reason to wait at all!

Are you evaluating Dynamics 365 and need help figuring out if it is the right solution for your business? Then join us at our conference conneXion in Munich, Germany, on April 3-4. You will be able to attend sessions on LS Central and more, get one-on-one demos, and ask all your questions to our retail experts – as well as to the people behind our unified commerce solutions. We hope to see you there!

Quit wasting time and losing business due to the wrong technology

Learn more about unified commerce, the software solution that can solve all your issues of visibility, data consistency and personalization.

The post Microsoft Dynamics 365: what it is, who it’s for, and why it matters appeared first on LS Retail.

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LS Central 13.03 was released. This is the latest version of the product which, until version 13.02, was known as LS Nav on Business Central. LS Central was first introduced to the LS Retail community in January 2019.

Let’s take a look at what is new in this version.

Safer transactions with extended EFT functionality For the LS Central POS

In this release, we have enhanced functionality of the EFT implementation in the LS Central POS (online POS). Users can now add tips and cashback to EFT payments. We have also increased the amount of information the system stores from EFT transactions to the LS Central log; this includes, for example, the EFT slip information.

For the mobile POS

A new EFT plugin, AltaPay PAX A920, has been added to list of available EFT plugins at the mobile POS.

Better search in the Mobile Inventory app

We have improved the search feature in the mobile inventory. Now, when a search delivers a large number of results, these are shown in bulk. The system will also automatically fetch more result lines when needed. These improvements will lead to quicker, smoother product searches for your staff, and will be especially beneficial to retailers holding a large amount of inventory.

If you want to know how the LS Retail software solutions can help you tackle today’s retail demands, or if you’d like to discover what is on the LS Central roadmap, join us at our conference and expo conneXion in Munich, Germany, on April 3-4, 2019. You will be able to attend product-focused sessions, dive into the technical side in hands-on workshops, learn the latest trends in retail, discover innovative technology, and ask all your questions in person to the LS Retail experts. Register now!

The post LS Central 13.03: safer transactions, extended search on mobile appeared first on LS Retail.

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LS One 2019, the latest version of Point of Sale and back-office solution LS One, was just released. Let’s take a look at the top new functionality the LS One team has worked on in the past year.

Out-of-the-box integration to SAP Business One

System integrations are usually costly and time-consuming. In the past, LS One customers were forced to make a substantial investment when they needed to connect LS One with an accounting/ERP solution. This is not the case anymore. Our certified out-of-the-box integration between LS One and the ERP system SAP Business One enables any LS One customer to easily connect POS and ERP, and be up and running (and selling) in a matter of minutes. You just need to buy a pre-configured “LS One for SAP Business One POS” SKU, which comes with all the plugins to connect to an existing SAP Business One (from version 9.2 onwards) ERP solution. As simple as that.

Once you have set up the connection, all your business information – including item master, business contacts, trade agreements, taxes, barcodes and more – will synchronize in real time between the two systems, with no extra work needed. LS One will cleverly book all transactions into the assigned GL accounts in SAP Business One, and instantly retrieve all the information you need from the ERP, and display it at the POS.

We have done the heavy lifting for you, so you can benefit from all the tools LS One and SAP Business One offer from day one, in the most cost-effective, simple way.

Improved inventory performance

LS One customers range from single stores to complex multi-store enterprise environments. For many of our customers, it is essential to be able to easily process large quantities of items, for example when doing stock counting, store transfers and purchase orders.

In this release, we have redesigned our web services, with a special focus on optimizing speed and effectiveness of our inventory functionality. As a result, operations that used to take ten minutes can now be performed in a matter of seconds. We have also implemented multithreading, so now more than one process can run at the same time, saving you even more time.

These improvements will bring substantial time savings to retailers, and will especially benefit customers working with large data sets.

More powerful reporting with Microsoft Power BI

To take smart decisions, retailers need clear, detailed insights into their business processes. They also need to be able to drill down the information in multiple ways, depending on their business plans and goals.

To help our customers get the insights they need, we have developed several new Microsoft Power BI templates. All of the templates, which include an extensive data model of almost all business artifacts in LS One, are available for free for LS One customers and partners. The process is simple: download the template, connect it to your SQL instance of LS One, and choose among a wide variety of reports.

What if you cannot find the report you need in the standard template? No problem. Use the data model we provide, and create your own reports within seconds. And as Power BI runs in the cloud, you can always keep your business under control, and access all your LS One reports wherever you are, via any browser.

Get answers and support in the LS One Learning Center

Giving our partners and customers top quality support and information is one of our top priorities. For this reason, we are happy to introduce our new online Learning Center, a one-stop site where you can find all the resources you need to get the most out of your LS One system. Do you want to know how to use the data replication scheduler? Do you need help with configuring a mix & match offer? Would you like to understand how the LS One integration framework works? Just head onto the Learning Center: this is where you will find all the answers to your LS One questions.

As the Learning Center is brand new, we are still in the process of expanding it. If any information you need is missing, we want to know! Your feedback will help us make this a truly useful resource for the whole LS One community.

Choosing the ideal retail Point of Sale system: what to consider?

Discover the key features you should look for in a retail POS, and make sure you select a software that will be there for you, today and tomorrow.

The post LS One 2019: better inventory and BI tools, now integrated to SAP Business One appeared first on LS Retail.

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“We’re living in difficult times,” says the CEO during the quarterly staff meeting. “But,” he continues, “if we work even harder and display great teamwork, we’ll manage”. Does this sound familiar? Now imagine the company going through a period of growth. Would the CEO ever say anything like “times are very good, let’s work less and have some rest”? Probably not.

The restaurateur in times of crisis

Let’s take a fictitious English chef and restaurateur for whom times have been good. He has opened his first Italian restaurant, then a second one, and then a few more. But times did change eventually, and talks of Brexit disturbed his expansion plans in the UK. Not that he wouldn’t like to expand abroad; the good situation in Iceland has actually led him to consider opening a restaurant in the faraway island. But when it comes to the UK, he is currently thinking about closing some of his restaurants down.

As a chef, our restaurateur likes to offer his guests quality food at an affordable price. But as a restaurateur and business owner, he sees too much uncertainty as regards what will happen after Brexit. Will he still be able to get the highest quality ingredients from southern Europe for a good price? And will they be as fresh as he and his customers are used to? Will the truck carrying Italian tomatoes and figs still be able to go straight to the market in London, or will it have to wait in a queue at customs, with the risk of the goods arriving too late – perhaps spoiled? Thoughts like these really worry the restaurateur.

And then, to top an already difficult situation, turbulent weather conditions have hit Europe, partially destroying a variety of crops – including several types of fruits and vegetables the chef uses in his restaurants. And there is no guarantee such extreme weather events won’t happen again. Due to changes in the climate, they are actually likely to occur again.

What to do when life gives you lemons

On the other hand, as we say in Germany, “we cook the soup hotter than we eat it”. Product shortage caused by bad weather is just temporary, and who knows what consequences Brexit will eventually bring.

But in the meanwhile, while waiting for better times, how can our restaurateur make up for the temporary spike in product costs without increasing prices, or closing down restaurant locations?

One answer could be to cut costs by optimizing business processes.

For example, our chef could make use of a staff management system to optimize usage of his staff. The best systems include functionality such as role budget adjustments, roster planning and fraud detection tools. All of this functionality allows businesses to trim excess costs, while also helping restaurant managers waste less time on their workforce management tasks.

Another area of improvement could be reducing waste in the kitchen with the help of an inventory management system. For example, a hospitality solution with recipe management could be used to store temporary recipes where expensive foreign ingredients are replaced with cheaper local products.

And what about adding a customer loyalty system, to send frequent guests personalized offers, and encourage them to come back to the restaurants?

Why waste time on many, when one is enough?

Our restaurateur investigates his options, and finds out that there are a number of separate software solutions on the market that can address his needs. However, he also discovers that although each software solution is relatively affordable on its own, the costs add up to a pretty large sum once all license costs are considered. On top of that, the chef would need to budget for all the time and money needed to get all the separate solutions integrated (with the added concern that, in some cases, an integration may not be possible)!

Thankfully, the restaurateur has come across a solution that ticks all the boxes, and doesn’t requires any expensive integrations.

With a unified commerce solution, our restaurateur can get all the different components he needs to run his business efficiently in just one system. This means no need to work with multiple vendors, no need to teach the staff how to use multiple solutions – and, once the system is up and running, no need to keep up with separate system updates and upgrades. That’s not all: the system can also be run in the cloud, on a subscription license. This means our restaurateur will have the flexibility to scale down in these difficult times – and then, once times get better again, he can easily expand, and add more licenses.

If you would like to learn how unified commerce solutions and the cloud can help support your business through both hard times and sunny days, contact our experts.

Don’t buy restaurant management software until you read this

Learn the 7 most common mistakes food-service and restaurant owners make when selecting business software or POS systems, and how to avoid falling in those traps.

The post How flexible software solutions can help your restaurant survive during times of uncertainty appeared first on LS Retail.

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The latest version of LS Nav on Business Central was released. This is the last version of the product known as LS Nav on Business Central: from version 13.03 onwards, the system will change name to LS Central.

Let’s take a look at the most exciting new features that are now available.

Automated creation of documents in the Threshold Management functionality

In this release, we have enhanced the recently introduced Threshold Management functionality. Threshold Management, part of the Replenishment module, helps retailers save money by optimizing item quantities in Purchase Orders, and by avoiding Transfer Orders when there are only small quantities to transfer.

The Threshold Rules describe upper and lower limits for quantity, weight, cubage, sales amount, cost amount or profit amount. These rules can be defined per vendors, items and item groups, locations, date periods and specific Replenishment Templates. Threshold Rules can interfere with each other – a violated rule for a specific item category can lead to a violation for a vendor-based rule, when the affected items are purchased from this vendor. This behavior, called Cross Dependency, is supported starting with this version of LS Central.

Thanks to the introduction of the Partial Document Creation feature, you can now:

  • Calculate threshold rules with cross dependencies
  • Approve and reset threshold rules with cross dependencies
  • Set up Replenishment Templates that allow (or disallow) the automatic creation of Transfer Orders or Purchase Orders for items without threshold violations. You can decide to set up automated document creation even if other violations were raised for the specific Replenishment Template.

By allowing retailers to automatically create documents for items without threshold violations, this new feature simplifies replenishment, and gives users more time to focus on exceptions to the rule.

Even faster item creation

The Item Default functionality simplifies the creation of new items by enabling users to set up templates for items. The new field Update Default Item Store Rec in the Item Default Settings page extends this feature, enabling you to copy Item Store Recs from template items to new items.

Easier setup of the Replenishment module for new customers

The Replenishment Sales History Adjustment table is a powerful tool to rectify a sales history in case of spikes in the sales pattern due to events, promotions, or other one-time effects. It is also often used to simulate a sales history for both items and stores in new customer implementations. Until now, the Replenishment Item Quantity calculation considered adjustments after the date of first sale. This date was derived from the Item Ledger Entries.

In this release, we have added the field History Adjustment Before First Sales to the Replenishment Setup page. This enables you to activate the consideration of adjustments regardless of existing Item Ledger Entries. Thanks to this change, it will be simpler to make new implementations of the Replenishment module.

Improvements to the LS Hardware Station

Until now, the LS Hardware Station used to load all device drivers at startup. This tended to slow down the process. From this release onwards, the device drivers are loaded into the Hardware Station only when needed. This means that the Hardware Station now starts faster than before.

The sharing of scanners in the Hardware Station has also been improved. Now, users are asked if they want to take over a Hardware Station scanner that is already in use by another POS.

The post LS Nav on Business Central 13.02: improved replenishment and quicker startup of the Hardware Station appeared first on LS Retail.

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In the fight against the e-commerce giants, brick-and-mortar retailers have a winning card: customer experience. Many factors contribute to making an in-store experience unique and compelling. A curated product selection, an exciting and fresh atmosphere, and personal, one-on-one service are just some of the elements retailers can use to their advantage.

Unfortunately, not all retailers seem to be playing their cards well.

Last year alone, Accenture reports, 61% of customers stopped doing business with at least one company because of poor customer experience. Research by Omnico Retail Gap Barometer reveals an even darker figure: 72% of consumers actually see all shopping as a frustrating experience! Brick-and-mortar shopping was found to produce even more irritations than online, with over a quarter of respondents describing the average in-store shopping experience as poor.

Going back to basics

When talking about modern customer experiences, one of the most popular topics is in-store innovation. In the past few years, the availability of increasingly advanced, and affordable, technology has utterly transformed shopping. Today’s in-store experiences are a far cry from last decade’s weekly trips to the mall.

However, the kind of tech some of the most innovative brands are experimenting with – from augmented reality, to holograms, to immersive multi-sensorial experiences – seem to be light years away from the bog-standard, uninspired customer journeys that too many retailers still offer.

Most of the frustrating shopping experiences customers describe and report are attributable to one or more of the following factors:

  • Unhelpful sales associates.
  • Inconsistent cross-channel experiences.
  • Poor personalization.

Let’s take a closer look at each factor, and see what tools can help close the gap between what consumers expect and the current, disappointing experiences many retailers still offer.

1. Unhelpful sales associates

The majority of retailers (61%) are confident that their store associates deliver great value and best-in-class assistance to customers, according to research by Forrester. Shoppers, however, disagree. Most (51%) consumers surveyed in the very same research believe that salespeople are not as knowledgeable about products as they should be. It is unsurprising, then, that very few consumers – less than one out of three – decide to rely on stores associates when they need to find a product.

How can you fix this?

Do you want your employees to deliver helpful, knowledgeable service? Then empower them to do so. This means giving them constant training, and the right technology.

Training: Learning about products and excellent service should not be limited to the onboarding stage. Keep your staff up-to-date with what stock is coming in, and help them understand how each item can suit different customer needs. A shopper looking for new running shoes doesn’t want to hear “here is what we have” – or wait around while the sales associates tries to read the boxes to understand the difference between two pairs of sneakers. What the customer expects is solid, competent advice on what sole is better for rough terrains, or which model has the best arch support. The in-depth knowledge needed for this level of service does not come cheap: you need to invest time and resources in constant, thorough, focused training.

Technology: Even with constant training, you can’t expect your employees to memorize your whole catalog and all your products’ features – especially in the days of endless aisles. A simple and affordable way to empower your employees to give more personal service is mobile Point of Sale. With a mobile POS in their hands, your employees can walk around the shop floor and give product information and one-on-one service to your customers where they are. On the POS, salespeople can quickly find all information on product details, variants, prices, and even real-time availability across all your locations. And it doesn’t end here. The best mobile POS systems also enable your employees to view, and show to customers, your whole product range, not just what you have in-store. A customer is looking for a specific type of paintbrush? Use the tablet to show the products available in your other locations and compare items side by side, with details and pictures. And to finish, you can close the sale on the spot. Yes – the best mobile POS take payments, too.

2. Inconsistent cross-channel experiences

In today’s hyper-connected world, the points of interaction and purchase just keep on multiplying. People can buy the t-shirt their favorite rapper wears straight from the music video. They can purchase a necklace on the jewelry designer’s Facebook page. They can replenish their kitchen detergent by pushing the Amazon Dash button they keep next to the sink. They can buy a new pair of headphones on their mobile, and select to pick them up in their favorite store location, or at a delivery box close to their home. They can use voice recognition to ask Alexa about the best wine pairing with ossobuco – and get the bottle sent home.

Across these increasingly diverse shopping moments, customers expect their experience with each retailer to be smooth and consistent – no glitches, no hitches, no disconnects.

As consumer expectations keep on growing, the gap with what most retailers offer gets larger. According to BRP’s latest Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, the majority of retailers still don’t offer basic cross-channel capabilities such as stock visibility, start-to-end order tracking, or cross-channel returns. A case in point: none of the retailers interviewed by BRP said they could offer effective “start anywhere, finish anywhere” (shared cart across channels) services. At the same time, almost 3 out of 4 (73%) consumers believe that this is a key capability.

How can you bridge the gap?

Unified commerce is the latest tendency in retail management systems. Unified commerce replaces all the separate, badly connected software solutions and databases retailers use across their business with just one, centralized, enterprise-wide software platform combining POS, mobile, Web, inventory management, customer information, and more. Within a unified commerce system, all information is maintained in one place, and shared and distributed instantly to all touchpoints. This means both your staff and customers can have access to the same, real-time data, including prices and offers, which and how much stock is available in each location, as well as customers’ shopping history. By unifying all information and making it available across the enterprise, a unified commerce platform ties all loose ends, enabling retailers to achieve, and offer their customers, total visibility, consistent information, and smooth experiences across all points of interaction.

3. Poor personalization

The vast majority (85%) of retailers, Forrester reports, believe they do a good job at personalizing their messages to each single consumer’s tastes, interests, and past purchases. Once more, shoppers disagree. More than half (59%) of consumers interviewed in the same survey say that retailers do not know them, and that the personalized offers and communications they receive tend to be irrelevant and untimely, providing no value to them. Ouch! Last year alone, according to data from Accenture, 33% of consumers who abandoned a business relationship did so because they felt personalization was lacking.

The tech you need:

Mass-made, one-size-fits-all products, offers and messaging don’t cut it anymore. Today’s consumers are used to receiving targeted recommendations, designed-for-you communications, and even personalized prices  online, and they have come to expect the same level of individual attention across all channels.

To deliver this kind of experience across your whole enterprise, including brick-and-mortar locations, you need unified commerce systems, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.

By maintaining all customer information in one database, unified commerce enables retailers get a straightforward, real-time picture of their customers’ habits, preferences, buying history, and behaviors. This highly organized data can then be run through predictive analytics and artificial intelligence services to deliver more effective, engaging, and personalized customer interactions. A good example of one such service is LS Recommend. This AI-powered recommendation engine uses historical purchase data to deliver relevant product recommendations. These suggestions can be shown on the e-commerce site, viewed on the phone of loyalty program members, or even displayed at the Point of Sale. In this case, sales associates can use them to engage customers, delivering the recommendations in the form of a personal suggestion. And thanks to machine learning, the system becomes increasingly accurate with time.

Making an experience great

Many retailers are feeling outpaced by today’s speed of change, with consumer expectations constantly increasing on the one hand, and technology quickly changing on the other. “By the time we catch up to technology, it will have moved past us again,” a billion-dollar revenue retailer told Forrester.

The good news is, you don’t need to offer drone delivery, virtual reality, or 3-D printed items to guarantee great experiences. Rather, implement the technology that enables you to deliver the necessary, and oh-so-important basics of modern shopping: competent service in-store, personalized interactions, and a consistent brand experience across channels. You can find all the elements you need to offer all this in a retail management system like LS Nav, our unified commerce platform that gives retailers mobility and a centralized view of all their information, including customer data.

To know more about LS Nav, and how it can help you close the gap between what consumers want, and what you can offer, get in touch with us.

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The post Close the gap between the retail experience you offer and the one your customers expect appeared first on LS Retail.

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The latest version of LS Nav on Business Central has been released. Let’s take a look at the most exciting new features.

Speed up maintenance of replenishment parameters

In this release, we have improved the Replenishment Control Data List page, which was introduced in LS Nav 11.05.

The Replenishment Control Data List simplifies and speeds up data maintenance by combining information from Items, Item Store Records and Item Distribution in one page. It also allows users to mass update data using filters and marks, with a top-down approach and inheritance of properties.

In this release, we have added an all-in-one selection page to create Item Store Records easily and rapidly. You can now:

  • Filter and select locations using store group filters
  • Filter and select variants using dimension filters
  • Review and fine-tune selected combinations in a review page
  • Create Item Store Records for selected combinations with one click.
Choose your hierarchy at the clienteling POS

If you have set up multiple retail hierarchies in your store, you can now select which hierarchy to use in the clienteling look at the POS. The hierarchies available are displayed on the top level of a brick view. Click on the hierarchy you want to use to select it.

Scan codes in the LS Nav App, iOS version

The LS Nav App, introduced in LS Nav 11.04, enables you to run the LS Nav POS on mobile devices. If you are using the LS Nav App iOS version, you can now use the camera of your mobile device to scan barcodes or QR codes. This functionality was already available in the Android version of the LS Nav App.

Configure devices for the LS Hardware station in LS Nav

You can now configure all devices for the LS Hardware station within LS Nav. This change gives you a better overview of all LS Nav settings, as they are now all summed up in one place. Please note that the LS Pay EFT plugin still needs to be configured in the Hardware Station Management Portal.

Quickly react to KDS printer errors at the POS

Many restaurateurs are familiar with printer issues delaying the service. For example, when you send an order to a printer in the kitchen, this may not go through because the printer is out of paper.

In this release, we have added a new feature to help you quickly solve printer issues. If there is a printer problem, waiters get an alert at the POS, so they can react, and rapidly fix the situation. Note that this only works for printers that are set up as KDS Printers.

In specific, you can now set up a button on the POS to show the printer status:

The button will change color when there is a printer error:

By clicking on the button, users can see the error message from the printer, and take the necessary steps to fix it.

Implementing a new management system doesn’t have to be a nightmare

Follow the tips of our experts, customers and partners, and learn the best practices for a successful and painless system implementation.

The post LS Nav 13.01: simplified data maintenance, more options at the clienteling POS, better control over KDS printers appeared first on LS Retail.

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Trends versus fads

Despite common misunderstandings trends and fads are not synonymous. The difference is in their longevity: whereas fads come and go quickly, trends are longer-lasting phenomena around which businesses can be built.

When it comes to retail, consumers are increasingly demanding technological-driven enhancements to their shopping experience. Forward-thinking companies have already responded creatively to these bottom-up demands, and are reaping the fruits of their innovative policies. But what do customers want?

1. Customers want pre-tail access

The neologism “pre-tail” means that people want to start shopping before they even enter the store. Retailers have responded to this demand in original ways by using technology.

For example, “shoppable windows” have popped up in New York, which allow customers to purchase products even when the shop is closed through a touch screen in the shop window. The customers are then offered fast home delivery.
IKEA, the furniture giant, has implemented new technology which lets customers see how a piece of furniture would look in their home while they are still at the store, before purchase.

Starbucks, the coffeehouse chain, now offers the possibility to make an order at customer’s convenience, before arriving at the café; the order will then be ready when the customer arrives. Tesco in South Korea pushed the pre-tail demands even further: customers can use their phone to scan and buy food and beverages from a video screen simulating a supermarket shelf. The purchases can then be picked up in store, or be delivered straight to one’s home.

How can we react? Take full advantage of technology advancements and offer your customers original and inventive ways to shop outside of the traditional retail space.

2. Consumers want next-generation environments

Consumers are now used to the totalizing shopping and entertainment environments offered online, and increasingly look for the same kind of experience also in traditional stores. Retailers are being pressured to change their game, and shops are transforming into entertainment centers.

The increasing demand for Omni-channel shopping means that retailers need to offer an integrated shopping experience which spans across the physical, online and mobile space.

Fashion brand Burberry led the transformation by turning its flagship store in London into a website-like environment. Customers can now interact with the store as if it were a website; the environment is very tactile, and when items are touched they react just as if they were “clicked” online. The shop is equipped with over 100 video screens and 500 audio speakers which react to touch, providing customers with a 360° shopping experience.

LS, the Left Shoe company, unites traditional shoe manufacturing with state-of-the-art technology by offering their customers to have their foot measured precisely with a 3D foot scanner. The digital model of the foot is then sent to the shoe maker, who will create custom-made yet affordable shoes, tailored on the customer’s feet.

Some forward-thinking stores have, also, started offering indoor GPS systems. Customers can use the GPS to search for products inside the store, and the GPS guides them to the right aisle.

How can we react? Wow your customers with a totalizing in-store experience, using technology to enhance the ways shoppers can interact with the store environment.

3. Consumers want retail/ hospitality mash-ups

The era of brands is over. Increasingly, customers enter stores looking for an integrated lifestyle experience, one which unites retail and hospitality.

A few brands have taken on the challenges of combining hospitality services and a retail environment.

The luxury goods Alfred Dunhill stores have opened stylish bars inside their clothing shop in London and Tokyo.

Other brands have entered partnerships with the aim of creating special experiences to offer their guests. Uniqlo, the casual wear brand, has renovated its store environments by partnering up with both Starbucks cafés and MoMA. Uniqlo customers can now shop for clothes while sipping a coffee and enjoying a work of modern art.

How can we react? Partner up with like-minded businesses that offer different yet compatible services to surprise your customers with an original, multisensory shopping space.

Give your customers a multi-concept shopping experience that digital commerce can’t compete with!

Discover 4 ways to build a profitable retail and restaurant hybrid business with unified business management software. Download our eBook now.

4. Consumers want social shopping

The constant growth in use of social media has made them an integral part of every facet of our lives – including the shopping experience. While shopping, customers use social media to look for validation of their purchases; retailers are starting to realize that this social media validation can be used to increase sales.

More and more stores now do not just allow, but actively encourage their customers to take pictures of the clothes they are trying on, and then share their snapshots on social media. Topshop in London went one step further by setting up the “Helmut Newton machine”: shoppers are encouraged to take a picture in the clothes they are trying on as if they were modelling for the famous photographer, and then upload their star-moment snapshot straight to social media.

The proliferation of food pictures in social media has led some forward-thinking hospitality operators to realize the advertising possibilities. Some restaurants are now purposely creating so-called “Instagram moments” by plating up attractive-looking dishes which encourage picture-taking and sharing.

How can we react? Capitalize on the spread of social media by encouraging controlled customer-generated content – you will gain free advertisement with an authentic feel.

5. Consumers want net-tech customer service

Increasing customer demands for technological innovations have set the bar very high for companies. The most forward-thinking businesses now use technology to provide around-the-clock, high-quality customer service.

Kindle, Amazon’s own e-reader, now includes a “may day button”. By pressing it users can enter a video conference with Amazon’s customer service; Amazon claims that the customer service will respond in an average of 9-10 seconds after a customer has clicked the “may day button”.

Fiat, the car manufacturer, allows its Brazilian customers to videoconference with experts at a Fiat dealership. In case of problems or doubts about the car’s functions customers can chat with an expert, who will be sitting in the same car make at the dealership, and will be able to show the customer easy and fast what they need to do to effectively use the car.

How can we react? When you offer 24/7, Omni-channel retail, you need to provide matching after-sales services – available and easy to access around the clock, and through different touchpoints. Use technology to make your customer service more interactive and approachable.

Just like the pace of technological advancement is rapidly increasing, customer demands change more and more quickly, too. Companies need to stay dynamic and innovative and react swiftly to changing expectations if they wish to have a place at the forefront.

To paraphrase Darwin, those who will survive are not the largest or the strongest, but the quickest to adapt.

Article inspired by Daniel Levine’s keynote during conneXion Rome.

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The post 5 current and future trends in retail appeared first on LS Retail.

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Microsoft’s introduction of events and extensions for their popular Microsoft Dynamics NAV product in 2016 was a big deal, and these two innovations continue to be critical for NAV developers and users. LS Nav also uses the events and extensions technology. But what do those two words really mean in the LS Nav environment?

Events

Events are remarkably logical when you understand them. They are notifications, or signatures, from LS Nav or Dynamics NAV that let subscribers know that something has happened in the system. Subscribers are other programs, apps, or add-ons that want to be notified of some event happening. Once the subscriber detects the events, then it can run whatever programming it needs to run. Still lost? Perhaps, you subscribe to events or updates from your favorite people or groups on Facebook or other social media platforms. When an event pops up in your notification list, you take action by either saying you will attend or that you can‘t make it. You can also choose to ignore the event and go about your day.

That is, events that you subscribe to are triggers for you to take some sort of action. There are also thousands of other events about which you may not know or care. We all have our preferences, and computer programs can be set to have theirs. Setting those preferences is called subscribing to events. In this context, events are pieces of computer code that other computer programs can understand. Once the code is sent out, the programs that subscribe to that event pick it up. Once picked up, the waiting program is triggered to follow whatever instructions it has in its code.

A retail-specific example could be that LS Nav sends out an event from the sales module of the program. The finance module has been set to subscribe to that event, so it activates and records the sale. As this example shows, even different modules, or bits of code, within the same program can be set to subscribe and react to events.

Extensions

Now that we understand events, the next term to define is extensions. The programs, apps, and add-ons that are waiting for the events are types of extensions. They all take the core program and extend its functionality in some way that fits with the specific needs of the user. An extension could be something as simple as an automatic email being sent out to customers in a loyalty program when new products or promotions are available. An extension can also be something as large as a complete module on top of Dynamics NAV and LS Nav.

Let’s look at another analogy. You work hard and finally have a break, so you are booking a vacation at your favorite resort. You don’t want the all-inclusive option but like to tailor your vacations to fit exactly your needs. You book a room, but then are offered an upgrade to a suite. You decide to take the suite. In that, you have extended your base vacation package to your tastes. Maybe you go on to book a table at a local restaurant or tickets to concert taking place at the resort. Each offer of an upgrade can be thought of as an event. The events that you say yes to trigger extensions of room upgrades, table bookings, and concert tickets just for you.

Simplifying upgrades

Technology can also be tailored to a user’s specifications, and extensions built off events make it easy to do because they keep the customization separate from the core of LS Nav – and Dynamics NAV. To extend the vacation analogy, if upgrading to a suite required the hotel to break down the wall of the original room to make it larger just for you and you had to pay for the renovations, the resort would be much less likely to offer that extension, and you would be much less likely to order it. That may seem like a stretch, but that is how many customizations and extensions were done in Microsoft Dynamics NAV in the past. A developer would have to enter the core code of the program and insert its code directly into the core.

Now, events allow subscribed programs to follow what happens as a result of the core program, or other add ons, and to react as needed. If, in the past, Microsoft changed the core code of Dynamics NAV, then all the code used to create customizations would have to be reinserted into the new core code, a lengthy and expensive process. Thanks to events and extensions, the solutions become more modular and independent, allowing them to keep functioning even with major changes in the code that makes up the core of Dynamics NAV as long as the events stay the same. Even more powerful, extensions can be upgraded independently of the core code, giving users and developers increased control over their technology.

Quicker, safer, cheaper

Breaking extensions out of the core code via events addresses three concerns LS Nav users have had about upgrading their systems – the time upgrades took, the risk, and the cost. Some LS Nav users hold on to older versions of the program because of the time and man-power needed for upgrading. With events and extensions, a user can have the most up-to-date system almost automatically, especially with the use of automated testing. That means that users can take advantage of newer, industry-specific technologies, such as mobile POS systems, much sooner and without a major time and money investment in upgrading. Finally, the extensions are independent of the core code, meaning that the chance of glitches when upgrading are reduced.

This relatively simple change in how LS Nav functions means a big change in the ease of upgrades and customization for our users. If you want to know how events and extensions in LS Nav can help you reduce the time, risks, and cost of upgrading, or have technical questions about the technology, contact our experts today!

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The post Events and extensions in LS Nav: what they are, and why they are exciting appeared first on LS Retail.

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