Pandora Australia has rolled-out a mobile POS system which enables its staff to serve in-store customers on Apple iPods.

Pandora trialled the AdvanceRetail SmartStore system in its 15 company stores in May this year with great success.

Brien Winther, Pandora’s vice president of sales and business services, said the system proved its value during the trial which improved customer service and significant sales increases.

He said that although Pandora’s sales results were “consistently good”, there were three particular times of the year when its staff were rushed off their feet as hundreds of people convened on each store – Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.

“Until recently, the pressures of serving so many people could inevitably lead to delays and problems for both customers and staff as for each sale, staff were required to manually enter a product code into the store’s sales books and into the AdvanceRetail POS register.

“This was both time consuming and could lead to inaccuracies.”

In a bid to speed customer service and provide a better consumer experience, management decided to trial AdvanceRetail SmartStore, a mobile retail solution that could integrate with Pandora’s existing POS system and which would enable staff to serve customers from anywhere on the floor.

“What we were after was a queue-busting system, something that would make it easier and faster for staff to service customers, said Winther.

The trial was deliberately timed to be held in May to “give staff an opportunity to become familiar with the technology prior to one of its busiest times – the Mother’s Day rush”.

As the AdvanceRetail SmartStore system was deployed and iPods introduced, AdvanceRetail provided technical training to staff, showing them how to use the devices to capture sales transactions.

At the same time, Pandora management devised new in-store operational processes.

Staff had to learn how to use their iPods whilst interacting with customers and moving around the store together, capturing purchasing decisions before heading to the POS register to take payment, print the receipt and complete the sale.

Winther says he expected teething problems with the deployment but was surprised when the biggest hurdle turned out to be operational rather than technical.

“We had a lot of staff resistance to using the devices,” he said.

“They were comfortable with the old manual processes and didn’t want to change.”

“In the end we had to be very tough about getting staff to use the mobile devices. Once they started to use the iPods, however, all the fear was gone and we got immediate buy-in.”

“They now do up to 100 percent of sales on the devices including returns.”

Winther said that in the week leading up to Mother’s Day, Pandora’s flagship Pitt Street store had its largest Mother’s Day sales week with over 75 percent of these processed on the mobile devices.

“There were no customer problems and the overall customer experience was a positive one.”

He said all of Pandora’s company store staff now move around the floor with their customers so they can immediately show prices and recalculate transactions as customers try to decide between different items.

“For the first time in years we have had no queuing or processing issues.

“The mobile devices have proven to be reliable and now that staff have the ability to calculate the price of items in real-time with the customer, processes have been streamlined, making the in-store experience more satisfactory for customers.

“This has reduced pressure on sales staff, making them more productive and the end result is we have increased our sales significantly.”

Following the success of the AdvanceRetail SmartStore trial, Winther has initiated EFTPOS testing on mobiles, and is looking at the concept of electronic receipts that can be emailed to customers.

“We want to get to the stage where the whole transaction is done on the device and not at the POS register,” he says.

It’s a goal that sits within Pandora Australia and New Zealand’s wider vision for a total omni-channel customer experience, including in-store and online options, to be made available within the next year.

“Our strategy is to continue to grow the retail sector. We intend to make Pandora’s jewellery available to customers across all channels by 2015.”

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