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Highly Specialized POS for Cannabis Dispensaries

Highly Specialized POS for Cannabis Dispensaries

May 10, 2021

To better manage and sell regulated products, cannabis dispensaries must take a more holistic view of their retail IT systems and overall business operations.

For the budding cannabis industry, traditional POS systems are likely to fall short of its specific needs. While any dependable system has a nice interface, some form of compliance reporting, and integrated inventory management — there are some core capabilities that can set your retail experience apart.

When a new dispensary opens its doors, it usually brings with it lines of expectant shoppers ready to browse a diverse range of products or snap up some limited inventory before it’s gone. Managing omnichannel inventory for any retailer can be a challenge. But for cannabis dispensaries, knowing precisely how much product is available and where it’s located is just the beginning.

In addition to real-time inventory management, add in several more layers of complexity like managing varying compliance regulations, consumption limits, customer privacy, and security. There’s also the all-important customer experience. To better manage and sell regulated products, cannabis dispensaries must take a more holistic view of their retail IT systems and overall business operations.

Must-Have Dispensary Functionality

MANAGING COMPLIANCE & PURCHASE LIMITS

Ever-changing regulatory and legislative policies make it challenging for cannabis-related companies to operate within the latest standards. Even states and provinces where cannabis is fully legal have different polices regarding accessibility and sale. Veras CheckOut POS has built-in flexibility to quickly address these updates while tracking and flagging purchasing limits. To ensure compliance, purchasing limits are tracked automatically at the point of sale for each customer. Veras CheckOut can track the amount of active ingredients across a variety of cannabis products such as edibles, loose leaf, flower and liquid to make sure the total purchase never surpasses the customer’s limit.

Veras CheckOut additionally manages lot and expiry dates to provide visibility into when items are packaged and flag products that are set to expire.

IDENTIFICATION CHECKS & SCANNING

Most dispensaries check the customer’s ID at multiple points along the purchase path to verify that they are of legal age and eligible to buy cannabis. While most budtenders physically check the customer’s ID, Veras CheckOut is able to speed this verification through a quick scan. The scan lets the budtender know if the customer is 21 or older and track how much the customer has purchased that day. In addition to not having to worry about invalid IDs, the budtender can also see if they’re a new or returning customer to provide the best experience.

MULTI-LOCATION INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

When dealing with high volumes, numerous product types and store locations, multi-location inventory management is essential to sustain seamless inventory to get the product to the customer. The dispensary retail floor serves as a polished showroom where a single product is on display. Most of the product is typically kept fresh and secure in the back room.

Given this set up and with Veras solutions, store associates can easily scan product to move it from the backroom to the front for sale. Budtenders may even transfer inventory to another store location through the software instead of having to reupload the product manually. Whether at the corporate or store-level, Veras solutions provide dispensaries clear visibility into product availability at each location, transferred between locations, and sold at each store.

CUSTOMER PREFERENCES & CONSULTATIVE EXPERIENCE

In addition to accelerating checkout times and maintaining continuous compliance, the Veras platform comes with a host of customer-focused modules to deliver a personalized and improved overall experience. Take for instance its device-agnostic clienteling module Veras Affinity. The solution provides a simple way of leveraging mobility via iPad (or any other device) to meet customers on the sales floor. Budtenders can see past purchases, make notes on customer preferences, and save items to wish lists to dramatically improve customer interactions and service.

So, the next time the customer’s ID, loyalty number or phone number is recognized, the budtender can see in the profile that this particular shopper only purchases edibles. Another budtender may have added notes that this customer does not like flower or concentrates. Now any budtender in the store (and across the chain) knows to only discuss and introduce new edible products when helping this customer.

OMNICHANNEL VISIBILITY

From tasting rooms to high-end displays, dispensaries are breaking down any preconceived notions of what a cannabis store is like. And leading dispensaries are leveraging omnichannel capabilities and digital technology to set a new precedent for how customers purchase products. Spurred by high-volume and high-demand products, cannabis retailers are adopting omnichannel strategies to support customers in new ways.

Veras’ unified platform makes it possible to support omnichannel distribution strategies tied to the store. Customers can start a transaction online or via mobile phone to reserve, pickup, and pay for products at the store. Real-time inventory availability helps to ensure what the customer is viewing online is consistent with what’s available in store. For any out-of-stock items, budtenders can use the Veras ‘global search’ function that looks across enterprise inventory where items can be scheduled for remote pick up at a nearby store or shipped to the customer.

DIGITAL DISPLAYS & SELF-SERVICE KIOSK

While super dispensaries boast large retail footprints, that’s certainly not the norm. Most cannabis retailers have smaller retail footprints and are looking for ways to maximize that space, including digital displays and self-service kiosks. Digital displays are often used to show inventory counts of product at the store. When tied to the point of sale, the customer can see in real-time if the product they want is available. If not, they can decide to select another product or place an order before ever needing to wait in line.

Another efficient way to cut wait times, improve service, and maximize space is through self-service kiosks. Upon scanning their ID, customers can create and complete an order to have it fulfilled from behind the checkout counter. Through Veras Extend, shoppers can view rich product descriptions, images, and customer reviews. With a couple of kiosks, these retail screens can act as its own store — splitting medicinal vs. recreational or other product types — to create different stores in one physical location.

Enterprise Omnichannel Solutions

There are many factors to consider when shopping for dispensary POS. In addition to selecting features and capabilities that work best for your operations, it’s essential to consider the customer experience and consistency across channels. And while compliance measures are of upmost importance, cannabis retailers are still retailers.

As a proven dispensary POS provider, Veras Retail also provides a win-win strategy by bringing innovations and best practices from across a wide variety of retailers while addressing the core needs specific to this industry. Our API-driven platform and services-enabled infrastructure allows retailers to rapidly implement new solutions and capabilities to move as fast as the business needs to:

All things considered, be sure you’re working with a flexible provider that understands your business to properly address your current requirements and can scale up as your needs evolve in the future.

Veras CheckOut can be a powerful business enabler, allowing shoppers to move between digital and physical experiences. Learn how our unified platform helps in areas that matter most.

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    Proactive Digital Outreach with Veras Black Book

    Proactive Digital Outreach with Veras Black Book

    March 10, 2021

    Retailers are embedding technology like Veras Black Book to reach shoppers at every step along the purchase path to deliver a whole new level of service. Veras Black Book drives proactive and personalized outreach using customer data, timely alerts and reminders, and convenient templates for store associates.

    If there’s anything we’ve learned in retail over the last year, it’s that how consumers shop has forever changed. Consumer behavior will likely continue to evolve and come with greater service-level expectations. Coming out of the pandemic, mall developments came to a standstill and we saw historic store closings for retailers that were unable to respond. But there is a silver lining in this all.

    The shift and appetite for digital commerce has made it possible for retailers to reach and personalize shopping experiences like never before. Omnichannel and new digital capabilities are putting customers entirely in control to shop as they desire. And smart and connected technologies open up opportunities for store associates to reach more customers and in more meaningful ways.

    Cut Through the Digital Noise

    Consumers spent a staggering $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44 percent year over year, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That’s the highest annual U.S. ecommerce growth in at least two decades. It’s also nearly triple the 15.1 percent jump in 2019.

    As a result, retailers are bombarding consumers with online ads, digital retargeting, endless email offers, and other mass marketing campaigns. Veras Black Book helps cut through that noise with proactive and highly personalized outreach. Proactive outreach with Black Book enables retail staff to set alerts, send emails and texts using pre-defined templates, and schedule appointments and follow-up calls based on customer insights and events.

    While many marketing emails do ultimately reach the consumer’s inbox, most get ignored. In fact, 72 percent of consumers say that they only engage with personalized messaging. Whether it’s email, text or a phone call, people want to be treated like individuals. So, when a customer receives a personalized message, especially from someone they’ve interacted with previously, they are far more likely to respond.

    With Black Book, retail staff working in-store or remotely can provide personalized services to better track and engage with the customer on an on-going basis. The system makes it easy for the associate by providing ready-to-use templates and data points reflecting the customer’s preferences.

    Furthermore, store associates can add customer-specific notes or create a task. Black Book tasks have their own lifecycle and can be accepted or rejected. Tasks can be set at different priority levels, associated with deadlines, or automatically expire after an event such as a birthday or promotion. Black Book tasks also provide visibility by generating reports on tasks for associates across the retail chain.

    Veras Black Book’s dashboard and tools allow retail staff to:

    • Review their top customers, latest activities, and helpful notes
    • View, create, and act on assigned tasks
    • See important store events, campaigns, and activities
    • Use customer insights to drive proactive outreach
    • Call or send emails and texts using pre-defined templates
    • Set alerts and schedule appointments and calls based on the customer’s specific needs or upcoming events

    Flexible communication templates provide store associates an easy starting point that can be adjusted to tailor customer follow ups and future scheduling. With 80 percent of customers more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences, Veras Black Book can be an effective tool to build real connections with shoppers.

    3 Types of Black Book Notifications

    Black Book may not be meant for every customer. Some shoppers know exactly what they want and prefer to explore and purchase items on their own. But for design professionals, personal shoppers, business customers, and your frequent and most loyal customers, Veras Black Book goes beyond transactions. It helps retailers personalize, inform, and connect with the customer through the following notification types:

    1. STORE EVENTS. Local events set by store managers or global events organized by corporate may include author signings, trunk shows, product launches, pop-up events, etc. Once set up, associates can engage with their core clients to send out a special invitation or schedule additional time for them at the store. Additionally, the store associate will know the best mode of communication based on the customer’s preferences.
    2. QUICK TIPS. System-generated alerts provide a variety of reminders to send personalized outreach to customers regarding birthdays, promotions related to their likes, or just a simple touchpoint. ‘Your wish list item just went on sale and is available in your size. Would you like me to set it aside for you?’ ‘I saw returned your last purchase. I’d love to know what you didn’t like about it so we can improve in the future. Is there anything I can help you find?’ In addition to system-generated alerts, associates can create their own self-generated tasks based on the shopper’s last actions or their interactions with the customer.
    3. DIRECT COMMUNICATION. When it comes to communicating with customers, each person has different needs and expectations. Two components in Black Book that make its communications so effective is that it provides associates a starting point through well-defined templates while also allowing for personalization. Customized templates can also be saved and used as a base for future outreach.

    Expand on Personalized Services

    As Veras Black Book is built on our Extend mobile platform, retailers can easily add complementary modules including Veras Affinity Clienteling, Style Builder, and Remote Selling to amplify personalized services in-store or remotely. Veras Affinity helps retailers connect omnichannel data with store initiatives and empower associates with a 360-degree view of the customer. Additionally, Veras Style Builder’s curated collections allow sales associates to build and sell styles through complete looks, complementary collections, and similar products.

    When shoppers aren’t physically in the store, Veras Remote Selling combines the immediacy and ease of ecommerce with the high-level service and personal touch of a knowledgeable sales associate. Whether shoppers need help finding specific products, want assurances on product compatibility, or seek new product recommendations, Veras Remote Selling is purpose-built for retail to deliver an immersive experience, anywhere. The sales person can share products live in the store and digitally through the platform where customers may browse, save to their wish list, and complete purchases.

    It’s clear that store formats and the roles of associates are evolving. Every aspect of retail operations has the potential to make or break the customer experience. It’s now up to retailers to incorporate flexible technologies to create a new retail model that centers around personalized customer experiences. And with 91 percent of consumers more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them, companies that don’t prioritize creating tailored experiences may run the risk of getting left behind.

    Learn more about Veras Black Book and other AI-driven solutions that use personalization to deliver proactive and highly tailored customer outreach.

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      Endless Inventory Options with Endless Aisle

      Endless Inventory Options with Endless Aisle

      February 8, 2021

      With the convergence of omni-commerce, real-time inventory visibility, fast fulfillment, and any number of ways to get products to the customer—endless aisle brings the best of these capabilities together to deliver an unbeatable customer experience.

      If you’ve ever been in a store to browse through the merchandise or locate a particular product, chances are you’ve been approached by a retail associate. They probably asked, “Are you finding everything you need? Is there anything I can help you find?”… or something to that effect to help get what you want and deliver a great in-store experience.

      Finding items in the store, depending on the retailer, is a much different experience today. What once was limited to inventory on the store shelves, in the back room, or available at a nearby store is now open to a sea of endless product options with endless aisle.

      Endless aisle gives retail associates and shoppers in the store the ability to virtually browse and purchase a wide range of products. And for any out-of-stock items or products not sold in-store, the customer can have them shipped to the store or directly to their home.

      Out-of-Stocks Add Up

      While it’s hard to beat the convenience of online shopping, there are many reasons why consumers still go the store. They may want or need something immediately, enjoy seeing or trying on things in person, want to avoid delivery charges, or have questions on the products they’re about to purchase. But even with these drivers, physical retailers are still losing sales to out-of-stock items, which come with hefty losses.

      According to 600 households surveyed by IHL Group, retailers are missing out on roughly $1 trillion in sales because they don’t have on hand what customers want to buy in their stores. Shoppers worldwide experience $984 billion worth of out-of-stocks and $144.9 billion in North America alone. And if the shopper happens to be an Amazon Prime member, they’re 52 percent more likely than other consumers to take out their phones and buy what they need online when faced with out-of-stocks.

      Let’s take a closer look at the out-of-stock shopper breakdown:

      • 32 percent faced empty shelves
      • 16 percent failed to find staff to help
      • 17 percent found staff, but not merchandise
      • 18 percent noted the price in-store didn’t match an ad
      • 17 percent didn’t get the product for other reasons

      Endless aisle paired with real-time inventory visibility can help retailers avoid many of these missed-opportunity scenarios.

      Advantages of Endless Aisle

      With Veras Extend unified product search, associates can provide an endless aisle to customers by searching an endless number of SKUs across the entire retail chain. It consolidates the physical and virtual catalogs into a single friendly interface to show what’s available in-store or globally. Whether items are fulfilled through direct vendor ship, ecommerce, warehouse ship or sourced from another store, Veras Extend unified product search helps retailers create the ultimate merchandising and fulfillment strategy.

      Endless aisle experiences increase conversions by allowing shoppers to review all available products without being limited to on-site selections through the global search icon.

      Available on mobile devices, store associates can support customers anywhere in the store to:

      • Present an interactive digital experience often superior to what they can achieve by physically browsing items in-store
      • Easily toggle between products available in-store vs. products available globally
      • Search the entire retail catalog to present product availability, more product options, or similar items
      • View rich product details, images, videos, relevant promotions, and customer reviews
      • Ship-to-store, reserve at another store for fast pickup, or ship any out-of-stock items directly to the customer

      And all of this rich product data isn’t limited to endless aisle. It’s leveraged across all retail applications on the Veras Extend platform to support clienteling, remote selling, mPOS, self-checkout and in-store kiosks.

      Expanded Product Search

      Veras Extend unified product search is unique in that it allows associates to search products in a more comprehensive manner. Traditional product searches are narrowly executed by color, type, SKU, price or key words. However, the engine behind our unified product search is broader, allowing for more complex requests that you would typically find in real-world scenarios to yield better results.

      Take for instance a customer searching for a red sweater. Is it cardinal red, candy apple red, dark red, maroon, burgundy, or other variation? So many possibilities exist, which is why our endless aisle search makes ‘red’ an attribute that can be tied to a broader family of reds. The same logic applies to sizing or price—to search for a range of medium-sized items or price range—or any other attribute of a product.

      The way people shop is evolving, and leading retailers are evolving to meet their needs. The good news is that retailers and consumers alike benefit from having a complete picture through real-time data and connected systems to deliver the best outcomes. So next time you step into a store, don’t be surprised when you’re approached by an associate, tablet in hand, ready to help you find something in the store (or elsewhere).

      Make smart technology investments through Veras Extend’s mobile and kiosk applications like endless aisle without overhauling your entire retail operations.

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        Get Digital Receipts at No Cost with Veras CheckOut

        Contactless Receipts with Veras CheckOut 11.1

        Get Digital Receipts at No Cost with Veras CheckOut 11.1

        January 19, 2021

        The recent release of Veras CheckOut 11.1 includes exciting new enhancements, along with the integration with our trusted partner flexEngage. Upgrade to our modern POS platform and you’ll receive free* contactless receipts.

        Veras CheckOut 11.1, as well as the Veras Extend mPOS and self-checkout modules, now integrate to the flexEngage digital receipt platform. The flexEngage integration uniquely supports real-time personalized offers at the point-of-sale. Seamless digital receipt process flows allow for known customer preferences to be more quickly and consistently applied in the transaction. Now when you implement Veras CheckOut 11.1, you’ll receive free* digital receipts through flexEngage’s Essential plan.

        Turn Purchasing Data into Meaningful Contact

        flexEngage is a POS marketing service that delivers custom-made transactional messages, which reduce customer churn for brand-driven retailers.

        Offering several levels – Essential, Pro, and Enterprise – find the right tier for your customer outreach and loyalty goals to best fit your needs.

        FREE* ESSENTIAL TIER BENEFITS

        Front-end features that are complementary in flexEngage’s Essential tier include barcode, clickable logo sent to your domain, PDF attachment, and the added benefits of:

        • Contactless Experiences
        • Increased Email Adoption
        • Reduced Paper Costs
        Services-Oriented, Future-Proof Platform

        With the flexEngage integration on CheckOut’s omnichannel platform, retailers can continue to drive innovation, offer better customer experiences, and unlock additional responsive technologies and capabilities. 

        flexEngage digital receipts

        From enhancements to a complete upgrade, Veras provides a clear migration path to modernize your POS platform with Veras CheckOut. Highly adaptable to support a variety of deployment models including on-prem, cloud or hybrid deployments, the platform’s microservices API layer shares business logic across an array of endpoints. From traditional POS to mobile selling to retail kiosks, our proven enterprise architecture allows retailers to innovate faster, and at lower TCO.

        Veras CheckOut also helps the store become an extension of your omnichannel strategy to provide a suite of cross-channel and cross-store selling capabilities.

        VERAS EXTEND PLATFORM. Extend brings the point-of-sale and mobile selling to customers in-aisle or offsite. Extend goes beyond checkout to enable mobile for inventory, clienteling, unified product search, price checker and self-checkout.

        VERAS AFFINITY CLIENTELING. Affinity help retailers connect online and offline data with store initiatives and empower their associates with a 360-degree view of the customer. Unlike any other clienteling solution, direct associate input strengthens the data and trains the AI to make smarter recommendations to drive sales.

        VERAS REMOTE SELLING. Remote Selling allows retailers to personalize and connect with shoppers virtually. Unlike Facebook or Zoom, our end-to-end experience is trackable, integrated, and consistent. From initiating the virtual appointment, to sharing rich product details, and building the basket all the way through purchase—Veras Remote Selling helps retailers stay connected even at a distance.

        Plus, additional features referred to as “FIGI” (“Find It, Get It”), encompass all of the following business scenarios through Veras CheckOut:

        • Send Sale. Collect and track shipping information for items sold in-store and shipped to the customer.
        • Charge Send. Save the sale using “endless aisle” of enterprise inventory. Sell merchandise at POS and ship to the customer from any store or warehouse in a single POS transaction.
        • Remote Pickup. Locate inventory in any location from any point of sale (including ecommerce or call center) and pickup in store.
        • Ship-to-Store. Buy online from warehouse inventory and pickup at store.
        • Storage Buy. Buy bulk/heavy items and collect them later from storage location in the same store.
        • Buy Online, Pickup In Store. Buy items online or in a different retail location and collect them later.

        With the right strategy, point-of-sale systems can be a powerful business enabler. At Veras, we recognized a market need for a flexible, cost-effective, and lightweight platform that can rapidly scale and shift to meet the shopper—how and where they want to shop. That’s what you’ll find in our unified retail platform, which looks at every point of interaction as an opportunity to connect, understand, and sell to the customer.

        Take advantage of flexEngage’s exciting digital receipts offer! Contact us to see how upgrading to Veras CheckOut can help simplify operations and deliver the ultimate shopping experience.

        * Available to customers in North America. Some add-on services may incur additional costs, such as third-party survey integration.

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        Curated Collections & Virtual Selling

        A WINNING COMBO: CURATED COLLECTIONS & VIRTUAL SELLING

        January 6, 2021

        The powerful combination of curated collections paired with the convenience of your very own virtual stylist will forever change how consumers shop.

        The reality is people have changed how they live, work, and shop, and many of these newly formed habits are here to stay. For retailers, many of those nice-to-have capabilities like curbside pickup, self-checkout, and appointment-driven shopping have quickly shifted to become must-have experiences. And not only have retailers responded at breakneck speed to provide safer and smarter ways to shop, but they’ve also adopted technology to create new shopping channels and revenue streams.

        One such technology is clienteling, which has evolved dramatically in the last several years. Initially, clienteling was adopted by sales people as an effective method to establish long-term relationships with key customers based on details about their preferences, behaviors, and purchases. Much of this was managed manually and kept locally in a literal “black book”.

        With digitalization and automation, retailers now have the ability to capture omnichannel customer data. Clienteling solutions like Veras Affinity help retailers connect online and offline data with store initiatives and empower their associates with a 360-degree view of the customer. But with in-store foot traffic greatly reduced, Veras Affinity clienteling is helping retailers stay connected even at a distance with AI-driven recommendations and complete collections curated by a savvy virtual shopper.

        Veras Affinity Remote Selling & Style Builder

        Remote or virtual selling is an effective tool, often doubling customer engagement and employee productivity at lower costs. Like ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores, remote selling is evolving into a dynamic channel of its own. Remote selling helps associates actively connect with shoppers that aren’t going into the store and connect with new shoppers that may not typically shop with you online. Ultimately, it’s about elevating your sales experience with meaningful data and a digitally engaged audience.

        For most retailers, your employees often are your best customers and brand ambassadors. According to ExpertVoice, 86 percent of sales associates say the best reward for giving a recommendation is sharing their passion and expertise for customer satisfaction — not a commission.

        With Style Builder, you can put your sales associates’ passion to work by using their input into product recommendations to improve the AI/ML engine behind it. Veras Style Builder’s curated collections paired with remote selling offers the next-generation of clienteling. It allows users to build and sell styles several ways.

        Complete looks. Create or view product options to complete a look centered around a common theme. Multiple products from different categories are selected to form a complete vision for this look with rich product images and details.

        Complementary collections. Find items that go well together based on the shopper’s preferences and build a full collection around it. This creates an opportunity to find new items for the customer to complete their personal collection.

        Similar products. Easily find product recommendations that can be substituted for one another and with the ability to personalize recommendations. Associates use their store knowledge and direct interaction with the customer to fine tune the selections to enhance the AI.

        Style Builder can be used across a number of retail verticals to deliver high-touch, one-on-one experiences with the convenience and safety of the client shopping from home. For home goods stores, associates can create room collections based on different styles or room décor. Flooring retailers may have their design consultants present complete looks that are trending and share directly with customers.

        And for retailers that have in-store events like DIY or tasting events, Style Builder with Remote Selling brings that experience to the customer to not only drive revenue, but to keep your brand top of mind.

        AI Still Needs Human Input

        Veras Affinity’s AI/ML algorithms combine sales associate feedback with mutliple customer data streams, including online and in-store purchases, social media, customer support activity, and more to provide a highly personalized experience.

        On top of algorithmic recommendations, Veras Style Builder still relies on humans to train and fine-tune the machine learning models. Even with the most successful AI, the human touch is critical in all the ways it’s being adopted today. Without it, every word, recommendation, or output has a fairly logical yet just-missed-the-mark effect that lacks authenticity.

        That’s why Style Builder applies a model in which human and algorithmic curators coexist to help one another. Together, Affinity’s AI learns and gets smarter from the store associate’s inputs — and gets better at executing over time. This is especially true when getting structured feedback from the field for new items that don’t yet have significant customer purchase history behind them. Leveraging store staff to get input on new products can help set meaningful recommendations in place quickly.

        Consumers are fundamentally changing the way they shop. Contact us to learn how Veras solutions can empower your staff to radically personalize and connect with shoppers virtually or in person.
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        Dark Stores are Shining a New Light on Retail

        Dark Stores are Shining a New Light on Retail

        November 23, 2020

        Retailers are leveraging their stores along with ecommerce to drive more sales and faster service. How? They’re going dark.

        As consumers expect more from what they can access, schedule for pickup, or get delivered to their doorsteps, retailers have come under tremendous pressure to make more products readily available. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, ecommerce sales increased nearly 45 percent year-over-year in the second quarter to reach more than 16 percent of total sales. 

        To fulfill an ever-growing list of holiday orders while continuing to deliver the right product, fastest service, and highest-quality customer experience, dark stores are providing much-needed relief for retailers and their shoppers. A dark store refers to a retail distribution center that is dedicated solely to fulfilling online orders. It’s typically a warehouse or repurposed store used to pack up online orders, which have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

        Today, the model has evolved with new technology to help a variety of retailers from home goods to hypermarkets to use dark stores as local fulfillment centers to facilitate buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) and delivery. Similar to ship-from-store fulfillment, dark stores can enhance a retailer’s overall physical layout and logical workflows to accommodate optimal picking routes and capacity.

        Retailers like Target and Walmart started testing ship-from-store fulfillment before the pandemic. Jewelry retailer Kendra Scott, when forced to close their doors at the height of the pandemic, used a ship-from-store strategy to turn their 108 closed stores into micro-fulfillment centers in just a few weeks.

        In recent months, Home Depot, Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Apple have all shifted to add dark stores for online orders or converted existing stores to permanent micro-fulfilment centers.

        Demand for Dark Store Capabilities

        According to a September Accenture survey, nearly 80 percent of U.S. shoppers want their purchases delivered directly to their homes.

        Ship from store or from dark store provides lower cost, high-speed delivery options to help achieve this by distributing the capabilities of warehouses closer to shoppers. By optimizing the picking process and leveraging staff at select stores, retailers can create responsive ecommerce fulfillment centers.

        7 BENEFITS OF A SHIP FROM STORE OR DARK STORE FULFILLMENT STRATEGY:

        1. Expose and move more inventory. Ship from store exposes on-the-shelf, brick-and-mortar inventory to a larger online market. Rather than warehousing ecommerce inventory in a location that is isolated from stores and store inventory isolated from online markets, ship from store shares inventory across a retailer’s locations.
        2. Efficient inventory management. Ship from store requires better inventory management. With the adoption of technology in the load, store and pick stages, retailers are better able to increase the number of units that are delivered along with more efficient operations.
        3. Greater availability. As dark store operations are dedicated to fulfilling orders that are made online, they have a much clearer view of stock levels which results in better product availability than a pick-in-store fulfillment solution.
        4. Additional capacity. Having the flexibility to adjust and deal with volume is important. By shifting a fulfilment center to high-volume markets or having a small fulfillment center in a remote location, give retailers the ability to pick goods, pack, and deliver in areas with high order density or specific needs.
        5. Increased hours of operation. Unrestricted by regular store hours, dark stores can operate around the clock to fulfill demand. Orders can also be delivered faster and at the most convenient times for customers.
        6. New goods and new markets. Dark stores expose ways for retailers to sell new merchandise that shoppers would not typically find in their stores due to space limitations. It also gives retailers the ability to launch operations in new markets without having to open a traditional brick and mortar location.
        7. On-demand delivery. Shoppers welcome having any number of products delivered to their door in minutes. Delivery platforms like Uber, DoorDash, Roadie and Shipt, just to name a few, are helping to provide that instant gratification. A well-placed dark store along with these services can help retailers ensure demand is met while delivery times are kept to an all-time low.
        Veras Locate for Dark Store Fulfillment

        Veras Locate’s lightweight, easy-to-deploy architecture and efficient order picking allows retailers to meet these challenges without breaking the budget on costly, overly complex warehouse management systems. Moreover, Veras Locate addresses multiple fulfillment use cases to make the best use of resources across stores, warehouses, and offices.

        Ultimately, Veras Locate delivers a comprehensive solution to optimally locate, pick, ship, and restock inventory to meet the needs of the cross-channel shopper through:

        • Real-Time Inventory Availability. Many ERP and ecommerce systems rely on batch inventory updates that can’t readily expose the available inventory data for real-time requests. However, Locate can expose the data at any level and to any system.
        • Ship from Store or Dark Store. Successfully compete with ecommerce players by maximizing the impact of your stores. Optimize the picking process by leveraging staff at every store, or select stores, to create responsive ecommerce fulfillment centers.
        • Detect, Replenish, and Move Inventory. With real-time POS integration, alert stores of out-of-stock items on the floor and replenish on the fly from the backroom or off-site storage. From managing backroom inventory to speed customer service or aiding satellite stores to move inventory from a shared location, Locate gets the product in hand to the customer.
        • Easy and Efficient BOPIS. Veras Locate gives the store quick visibility to inventory position for picking the BOPIS order, as well as audible and visual alerts that let associates know they’re falling behind to better prioritize orders and ensure they’re ready for pickup.

        Entering the holiday season, we anticipate these dark stores will be bustling around the clock with order fulfillments. And as we look ahead to once the pandemic has settled, it’s certain that shoppers who have experienced fast delivery, BOPIS, or curbside pickup will likely keep some of these shopping habits moving forward.

        From streamlining processes to automating order fulfillment, we’re ready to help support your entire dark store strategy.

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          It’s Time to Embrace Virtual Selling

          Add the personal experience, connection & excitement back to retail that your shoppers crave

          October 22, 2020

          Virtual selling is far more than a trend, and considerably more than sales associates interacting on Facebook or Zoom.

          As consumers are anxious about their finances and health ahead of the holiday season, according to Deloitte’s September consumer report, the uncertainty in our economy is causing U.S. shoppers to spend less. Unsurprisingly, the report also reveals that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about the health of their families leaving them anxious about spending time in stores.

          While the heightened safety requirements for both retail workers and their customers have accelerated to promote more contactless interactions like curbside pickup, buy online pickup in store (BOPIS), and self-checkout — but what if shoppers don’t step into the store?

          When consumers were asked how they planned to get through their holiday shopping and to-do lists this season, here’s how they responded:

          • 65 percent will shop online to avoid crowds
          • 48 percent will avoid malls
          • 69 percent will shop in stores closer to home
          Veras Affinity Remote Selling

          Now is the time to embrace remote or virtual selling. With remote selling, your organization can double customer engagement, productivity, and speed at lower costs by enabling remote selling teams. Sure, you can continue use Facebook or Zoom, but the experiences provided on these platforms are not trackable, personalized, integrated or consistent. While they help provide a quick fix to connect with shoppers, they’re hardly retail-focused and let’s face it, your customers expect more.

          Here are some compelling benefits of our in-app remote selling experience:

          • CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT. The opportunities for abuse are greatly reduced and there is no need to worry about app downloads or platform compatibility.
          • INTEGRATED TO THE SELLING PROCESS. In addition to having visibility into past purchases, recommendations can be converted to purchases, saved to their wish lists or added to their omnichannel cart.
          • KNOW THE CUSTOMER’S INTERESTS. Whether they’re planning for an upcoming event or remodeling an entire room, keep track of their preferences and products as they build out various collections.
          • BEST OF ECOMMERCE. Take the immediacy and convenience of ecommerce combined with the high-level service and personal touch of a knowledgeable sales associate.

          In this Veras Affinity Remote Selling demo, take a closer look as we step you through how the associate:

          • Initiates the remote selling conversation at the appointed time
          • Shares rich product details and available promotions
          • Builds the basket all the way through to purchase
          Give your associates the tools they need to foster stronger customer relationships, increase engagement, and drive revenue.

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            COVID-19 Sparks Self-Checkout Adoption

            COVID-19 Sparks Self-Checkout Adoption & Other Contactless In-Store Technology

            May 7, 2020

            The heightened safety requirements for frontline retail workers and their customers have intensified to promote more contactless interactions like self-checkout—and other in-store technology.

            The launch of self-checkout systems that initially freed shoppers from what they disliked most, long checkout lines, may soon be viewed as essential in-store technology. The evolution towards self-checkout and cashless payments has been underway for decades.

            The first supermarket self-checkout system called ‘the service robot’ was installed in 1992 in the Price Chopper Supermarket in New York by inventor Dr. Howard Schneider. By 2003, self-checkout systems had become widespread across the U.S. And now with over 240,000 self-checkout devices installed around the world, the self-checkout systems market size is expected to reach 7.8 billion USD by 2027, according to Grand View Research.

            A Change in Self-Checkout Sentiment

            COVID-19 has only accelerated the adoption of self checkout along with clear evidence in changing consumer habits. In a December 2019 survey from Bizrate Insights conducted just prior to the pandemic taking hold:

            • 47 percent (nearly half) of respondents said they use self-service checkouts regularly
            • 31 percent said they have used it before, though not as frequently
            • Only 2 percent of respondents didn’t know what self-service checkouts were
            Self-checkout survey

            Fast forward to today, an astounding 87 percent of U.S. shoppers prefer to shop in stores with touchless or robust self-checkout options. The survey, shared by advanced weighing technology provider Shekel, also shows that 75 percent of shoppers now use self-checkout frequently to pay for groceries.

            Retailers Expected to Do a Lot More with Less

            With fewer retail support staff on hand as stores reopen, many in-store workers are likely to start performing other functions such as helping with personal styling, virtual and in-store shopping assistance, e-commerce support, home delivery and other fulfillment-related activities.

            However, performing these functions without the right software and technology automation would be impossible to do well (and delight) at scale. As retailers can only address so much with reduced staff and stressed budgets, let’s take a closer look at what shoppers say are their top in-store frustrations.

            A recent Capgemini survey revealed:

            • The largest share of respondents at 60 percent were irritated with long checkout lines
            • 48 percent of shoppers said they were frustrated by products being out of stock  
            • 40 percent of shoppers had difficulties physically locating what they needed
            • 26 percent of shoppers had trouble finding and getting help from an associate
            • 24 percent of customers desired more product information when selecting products
            Retail pain points survey on in-store shopping

            Here are some ways Veras Retail’s unified solutions can immediately help retailers remove these top in-store pain points.

            Everyone Wins with Self-Checkout

            As shoppers are taking every precaution to protect themselves, they want the ability to checkout using unattended shopping for their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of retail staff. In addition to never losing a sale or customer to long wait times, retailers will benefit from:

            • Maximizing personnel productivity with labor costs during surges and off-peak hours
            • Shorter queues, a quicker checkout process, and greater capacity
            • Language selection option at checkout makes it easier for multi-language support
            • Staff resources are better directed in managing the store and serving customers in ways such as virtual shopping assistance or direct fulfillment support
            Provide Shoppers with Inventory Visibility

            Allowing shoppers to use smartphones to know the availability and location of merchandise before heading to stores will eliminate the frustration for nearly 50 percent of shoppers looking for a specific product. In addition to speeding purchases, consumers are more likely to shop in stores when they know ‘the item is in stock’, ‘where it’s available’ and ‘the most convenient location to get the item’.

            Veras Retail can help retailers achieve much of this today through real-time connectivity from the point of sale, ecommerce, and checks against real-time inventory. Check out the full details in our blog post, Delivering on New Shopping Expectations.

            User Friendly, Product-Rich Kiosks

            For roughly one out of every four shopper that has trouble finding an associate for help or desiring more product information, Veras Extend’s interactive experience takes in-store kiosks to the next level. Empowering shoppers to explore on their own, Veras Extend kiosks helps minimize face time with frontline associates, which today is just another layer of exposure, and adds the following powerful customer capabilities:

            retail kiosk, 360 product view
            • Eliminate the frustration and cost of missing or incorrect pricing
            • Provide immediate customer service to shoppers when an associate is not available
            • Give a full 360-product view through rich product descriptions, images, and customer reviews
            • Customers will also see all applicable promotions, accessories, and complementary items

            Getting back to normal routines will take time and require different shopping habits and retail solutions. As consumers look for more contactless shopping experiences whenever possible that doesn’t mean reduced service level or skimping on customer experience. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

            Learn how our light-weight customer experience platform is helping retailers do more with less to keep pace with today’s demanding environment.

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              COVID-19 Tax Relief and Hassle-Free Tax Holidays

              COVID-19 Tax Relief and Hassle-Free Tax Holidays

              April 29, 2020

              Simplify the tax holidays and automate tax compliance while keeping up-to-date on COVID-19 tax relief laws. Plus, take advantage of three months of tax automation with Avalara at no cost!

              Still pulling data from your ERP into spreadsheets, analyzing pivot tables, and manually filing each return on all the different state websites? What once may have been a manageable (yet painful) process, may now feel like an impossible task due to massive staff reductions, understanding the latest COVID-19 tax relief laws, and approaching tax holiday season.

              Now may be the best time to remove your tax compliance burden altogether. And our trusted partner Avalara is ready to help Veras Retail customers automate the most important steps of tax compliance—while keeping up-to-date on COVID-19 tax relief laws.

              Tax Response During COVID-19

              As we all take steps towards COVID-19 recovery, governments worldwide are doing everything in their power to uplift an economy faltering under the weight of the pandemic. Tax relief varies widely by country, state, and industry. In many countries, including the United States, relief includes tax filing and payment extensions, and even temporary rate reductions to help offset financial burdens.

              Rather than having to hunt for COVID-19-related laws and resources, Avalara keeps you informed with their COVID-19 Tax Relief Roundup that’s updated regularly as more information becomes available. From global and federal tax relief details to a comprehensive roundup of tax breaks by state and locality, the tax experts at Avalara help you navigate ongoing changes.

              Tax Holidays Sees Public Stocking Up

              This year more than 15 states will hold sales tax holidays over limited periods of time where specified products are exempt from sales tax. Like years before, a majority of them will be attached to back-to-school (or learn-from-home) season, energy efficiency, and severe weather preparedness. However, tax holidays are often difficult to plan for as there is no guarantee they’ll take place until they’re signed into law, and sometimes that doesn’t happen until days before they start.

              For instance, from April 25 through April 27, the state of Texas offered a sales tax holiday for emergency preparation supplies. Popular gear stocked up by shoppers included weather radios, batteries, flashlights and coolers. But many local stores that carry such items did not seem to know about this new holiday, leaving them unprepared as stores in-the-know took advantage of the tax incentive and increased demand for these supplies.

              Remove the following tax holiday headaches with tax automation tied to the POS:

              • Knowing when and where they are. Sales tax holidays are plentiful during the summer. They tend to take place over a weekend or can span an entire week. See the state-by-state guide to 2020 sales tax holidays.
              • Knowing what products are exempt. When tax holidays overlap, it’s important to cross-reference the products you sell with the items eligible for an exemption in each state.
              • Knowing what taxes to collect and not collect. Some states allow local taxing jurisdictions to opt out. To ensure compliance, you need to know which taxes need to be collected—or not collected—on each transaction.
              • Knowing the rules. Each state has its own rules regarding deliveries, exchanges, gift certificates, layaways, reporting, etc. The exemption may extend to delivery charges, for example, or it may not. These are the types of details you need to get right to be sales tax compliant.
              • Knowing price restrictions. Every state except South Carolina imposes price restrictions on eligible goods. For example, clothing must cost $75 or less to be eligible for the exemption in Ohio; in Oklahoma, the exemption applies to clothing and footwear priced less than $100.
              Get Three Months of Tax Automation at No Cost

              With pre-built connectors into Veras CheckOut and feasible integrations into Win/DSS, Veras Professional Services can help get you up and running quickly with an automated tax solution. Let Avalara’s solution take care of the heavy lifting to strengthen compliance, reduce audit risk, and ease tax complexity so you can focus on more pressing business matters. 

              Tax automation at the point-of-sale can also help retailers prevent any negative customer experiences and sales loss from manual tax inputs, such as:

              • Customer and cashier frustration due to incorrect tax setup
              • Slowed checkout lines due to customer disputes on the tax amount or missed holiday tax
              • Returns or refunds processed due to incorrect tax setup

              What’s even better is Avalara is offering three months of tax automation at no cost.

              For a limited time, get the first three months of sales tax automation at no cost and make no payments for 90 days when you add Avalara’s premier cloud-based tax compliance suite to your financial and commerce systems. Sign up for 12 months of AvaTax or AvaTax plus Avalara Returns to receive the additional free three months. This offer is valid for new Avalara customers only and expires on June 30, 2020*.

              Questions? We’re here to help.
              Learn more and signup for this special offer or contact Veras Retail directly to get started.

              * Avalara reserves the right to cancel, change, or suspend this promotion at any time.

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              Delivering on New Shopping Expectations

              DELIVERING ON NEW SHOPPING EXPECTATIONS

              April 23, 2020

              In a future when shoppers are likely to be uneasy about going into any store, only the tech-forward, customer-focused retailers will survive.

              The world is a different place than it was just a couple of months ago. As companies hustle to maintain their business while responding to the new normal, many are considering what the long-term impact of coronavirus will be on the retail industry at large.

              The coronavirus pandemic has pushed retail quickly into new directions with social distancing. According to research and consulting firm Technomic, 52 percent of consumers are avoiding crowds and 32 percent are leaving their homes less often because of coronavirus. With these new behaviors, brands across the globe are worrying about how COVID-19 will impact how (and if) consumers will come back to stores.

              The News is Not All Bad

              Some retailers are seeing significant traffic and sales bumps as shoppers stock up or adjust their habits to limit the number of trips they make to public spaces. And Criteo’s Coronavirus shopping trends show ecommerce and select product categories such as cleaning supplies, home office technology, pet supplies, gaming equipment, outdoor furniture, and exercise equipment are experiencing dramatic sales spikes.

              Moreover, Digital Commerce 360’s 2020 omnichannel survey of 1,000 online shoppers revealed that 78 percent of online shoppers are active with the following omnichannel behaviors:

              • 54 percent of online shoppers checked inventory at nearby stores
              • 41 percent of online shoppers took advantage of BOPIS
              • 24 percent ordered online for same-day delivery from a web-only retailer
                 

              Amid the coronavirus pandemic, customers are exerting more control over how, when, and where their orders are fulfilled. So, what does this mean for retailers? It further reinforces that omnichannel is no longer optional for stores. When it comes to any good omnichannel strategy, you’ll find inventory and real-time inventory visibility at its core.

              Here are some ways we are leveraging real-time inventory management to help retailers manage the new dynamics of omnichannel retail, now and in the years to come, by the coronavirus aftermath.

              BOPIS and Curbside Pickup Accelerate

              Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup have become increasingly popular due to COVID-19 and may present a potential survival strategy for retailers to adopt as coronavirus concerns linger.

              Many of our omnichannel customers such as Kirkland’s, Floor & Decor, MEC, and Office Depot have all already implemented BOPIS to varying degrees, and some with added business customizations. In addition to flexing these capabilities during the pandemic, these retailers are far better positioned to respond as shoppers gradually adjust to new buying habits moving forward. Furthermore, through Veras CheckOut point-of-sale, these retailers gain real-time visibility of POS purchases that make online merchandise availability all the more accurate.

              According to Adobe, BOPIS saw a 62 percent year-over-year increase from February 24, 2019 to March 21, 2020. In addition to limiting the time consumers spend in public areas, BOPIS provides a more immediate alternative when home delivery methods are booked to capacity.

              As consumers are drawn to the convenience, safety, and speed of BOPIS, it is essential to provide store staff with the necessary tools to successfully execute.

              Veras Locate does that by giving the store quick visibility to inventory position for picking the BOPIS order, as well as audible and visual alerts that let associates know they are falling behind to better prioritize orders and ensure they’re ready for pickup.

              Even with BOPIS adoption increasing over recent years, the necessity of using it now may cause permanent adoption to peak and stay in retail.

              Ship from Store or from Warehouse

              When store hours are limited, or worse, closed when you’re not considered an essential retailer during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, retailers can use ship from store to achieve these fundamental retail goals to maximize the impact of your stores:

              • Improve customer experience with low-cost, high-speed delivery
              • Efficient inventory management and responsive ecommerce fulfillment centers
              • Increase revenue and profit from more conversions
                 

              Ship from store provides low-cost, high-speed delivery by distributing the capabilities of warehouses closer to shoppers. By optimizing the picking process and leveraging staff at every store (or select stores) retailers can create responsive ecommerce fulfillment centers. 

              Jewelry retailer Kendra Scott provides a nice industry example where they had plans to become truly omnichannel and offer shipping from stores. However, the retailer was still almost a year out from execution. With a ship from store strategy, they were able to accelerate that in just a few weeks by turning their 108 closed stores into mini-fulfillment centers. The retailer is now better able to keep up with growth of its online sales while allowing their employees to practice social distancing.

              A ship-from-store fulfillment strategy may also boost revenue resulting from several retail advantages the approach provides.

              More sales. Ship from store exposes on-the-shelf, brick-and-mortar inventory to a larger online market. A camping tent stored in the stockroom of a Springfield, Illinois sporting goods store at the end of November can still be sold to an online shopper in San Antonio, Texas, where the average temperature that month hovers in the mid-70s.

              Efficient inventory management. Ship from store requires better inventory management. If you miscount inventory in the store, you could easily disappoint an online customer. Improved inventory management can lead to faster turns and better purchasing decisions.

              Move more inventory. Rather than warehousing ecommerce inventory in a location that is isolated from stores and store inventory isolated from online markets, ship from store shares inventory across a retailer’s locations.

              Veras Locate’s lightweight, easy-to-deploy architecture and efficient order picking allows retailers to meet these challenges without breaking the budget on costly, overly complex warehouse management systems. Veras Locate addresses multiple business cases to make the best use of your resources across stores, warehouses, and offices.

              Provide Shoppers with Inventory Visibility

              BOPIS and home delivery provides safer, and sometimes more convenient options, to get products in hand to the customer. But as today’s supply chains are constrained and delivery times range anywhere from two days to two weeks, shoppers are taking to the stores to physically search for the items they need. 

              What do shoppers ask themselves before entering the store? It really comes down to the following:

              • Is the item in stock?
              • Where is it available?
              • What is the most convenient location?
              • How fast can I get it?
                 

              Now imagine allowing shoppers to use smartphones to know the availability and location of merchandise before heading to stores (and while in stores). This not only will speed purchases but could be a potential customer-experience game changer during these chaotic times.

              Veras Retail can help retailers achieve much of this today through real-time connectivity from the POS, ecommerce, and checks against real-time inventory.

              Ultimately, if you lack real-time connectivity from your point-of-sale to your ecommerce business, you’re either going to disappoint the customers by accepting orders that can’t be fulfilled, or lose out on sales when stock is actually available by creating buffers that err too far on the side of caution.

              What this all makes clear is how essential the full integration of stores and omnichannel technology has become to retailers. While there are many unknowns, we do know that consumer shopping habits will change, and retailers need to adapt while remaining financially viable.

              For retailers, focusing on customer needs and building loyalty through ideal customer experiences may never be as important as it is right now. And in a future when shoppers are likely to be uneasy about going into any store, only the tech-forward, customer-focused retailers will survive.