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How Can Technology Help Independent Grocers In A Global Pandemic?

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Q&A with Francois Labelle, director of product at LOC Software 

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Francois Labelle

Francois Labelle has been in the Point of Sale Industry for more than 25 years, starting in the reseller space and moving through to his position as director of product at LOC Software for the last eight years. Francois leads the LOC’s product roadmap.

What is the current state of Point of Sale Software in the retail grocery space?

We have seen a tremendous uptick in technology solutions in the industry. As a result, independent grocery retailers are hungry for more ways to interact and attract consumers with rewards and marketing tools. Our fully connected platform is an easy transition and a win-win relationship between retailers and their customers.

 

How has COVID-19 impacted technology for independent grocery?

The grocery market definitely had its ups and downs through this continuing pandemic. In the beginning, e-commerce was the first item to take off two years ago. Every retailer has been looking for ways to ensure a safe but enjoyable shopping experience. Although making an impact even before COVID, self-checkouts are being installed in almost every store, even if the retailer has few traditional lanes. A few of the many modules that continue to grow are Electronic Shelf Labels and Self Service Kiosk offers; this is a direct impact of the labor shortages. 

When we talk about supply shortages, anyone on the fence about perpetual inventory should be looking at implementing this process. Inventory makes so much sense for any grocer by handling shrink correctly to letting your retail customers know what is in stock when shopping online. With LOC Software, we offer an entire buying and purchase order within one software, taking away much of the headache from manual processes.

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Where are the technology trends heading for the future in independent grocery?

In today’s ever-changing market, we see grocers focus on Loyalty Programs, such as points and club promotions. Additionally, grocers are looking to move to a single platform solution. Gift cards, for example, can be a quick cost saving to the retail market if you can have an in-house gift card solution rather than sourcing a 3rd party. To complement this, accurate real-time data will be at the helm of any program; having vital information on individual customers at your fingertips is priceless. 

Another huge trend is contactless payments; mobile payments are at the forefront. LOC Software is proud to announce that we have partnered with Blackhawk Network to offer customers touch-free mobile payment options at the checkout, including PayPal and Venmo. 

 

What technology product innovations do you see coming up? 

Anything to make the checkout process easier. We see scan and go really at the forefront of innovations. Customers today need the ability to do everything on their phone, from managing their customer loyalty or point accounts to payments. It is our job to make this a seamless process.

 

How does reporting data play a part in the Product Innovations mentioned above? 

This is a great question, and data is everything. With LOC, transactions flow seamlessly from every part of the system to provide you with the toolbox that you need to use the information for you and your market. Since our system is one single database, any transaction that takes place from the traditional point of sale, e-commerce, Kiosk, or DSD receiving is available in real time. 

 

What are the consumer trends that are impacting the grocery market? 

We are making the in-store and e-commerce experience enjoyable for the retail customer. When customers come back to a brick-and-mortar store, they look for the true shopping experience, including  a straightforward Point of Sale system, whether Kiosk options when ordering a sandwich or mobile payments. At LOC Software, we ensure that our focus is customer satisfaction and making that end-user experience enjoyable. 

 

How does the current economy affect the independent grocer? 

Grocers need to watch their bottom line for their business and the consumer’s pocketbook more than ever. Costs are changing daily, and the general cost of living increases are causing consumers to justify what they are buying and how to ensure that they are paying the best price. Retailers can reach their customers using targeted offers, helping consumers purchase based on their needs and saving money at the same time. This makes it more important to have a fully encompassed system that allows this communication to happen from a central location where their sales and data are housed. 

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How can retail grocers take advantage of current trends to sell more product?

Know your plan and drive it. Train your staff to make them cheerleaders of your technology or loyalty program. We know today that staffing issues are impactful; however, using technology in areas to simplify the process will allow grocers to get their staff to be able to focus on the customers. Secondly, get close to your market, diving into who is visiting your store and their behavior. 

 

What makes your company uniquely different from other brands in the point of sale industry?

Integration often means losing functionality. Very few solutions offer what LOC Software does; The Complete Point of Sale Experience. At LOC, we provide a full back office suite to operate the whole store, innovative host capability, and an eCommerce platform from our native ecosystem that can be installed on-premise or in the cloud. 

 

For more information, visit locsoftware.com.

To read more from our Experts on The Shelby Report, click here.

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