Retail technology solution AutoAisle secures items that are of high value or at-risk of theft, reducing retailers’ losses and boosting sales of these items, says South African technology development firm Quattro founder and specialised projects director Vincent Lanz.
The loss of at-risk items and the impact on profits are a worldwide phenomenon. Often, retailers remove such products from the shelves to protect their operations.
The AutoAisle system involves placing the products back onto shelves, but these serve only as a display of the product ranges. Customers select products and get a slip that is paid for at the point of sale along with other items. The customer then uses the paid receipt to get the items from dispensing machines.
A lower variety and limited range of products lead to lower sales volumes because customers often perceive that a small range will not include their choice of products. This has an indirect impact on the footfall of customers, resulting in retailers suffering loss of sales because of restricted ranges.
Quattro’s AutoAisle system is currently in place for health and beauty products, certain at-risk items, such as fever and child medication, as well as baby formula.
Some categories, such as baby formula, are termed ‘destination categories’, which means that, if these products are unavailable or perceived to be unavailable, the customer might not return to the store at all.
To prevent loss of such high-value and at-risk items, retailers put them behind kiosks and controlled counters, which lead to a drop in sales volumes. Using AutoAisle improved sales of baby formula from 41 to 114 units within the first month of operation in a medium-sized retail outlet, explains Lanz.
The solution improves stock management of such items and has many layers of functionality, such as sales statistics and projections, out-of-stock alerts and loss of sales projections. These enable the store or purchasing manager to make fact-based decisions on replenishing stock.
AutoAisle uses locally developed software and the devices are produced locally. The solution has been implemented at a national retail chain in South Africa, is being tested by another local retail chain and has received expressions of interest from retailers in Australia and Germany.
The secure sales channel that the system represents also provides more certainty for brands that stores will be willing to stock their products, as the risk of loss is lower, Lanz notes.
Quattro new business sales manager Ben Jansen van Rensburg highlights that the system led to a retail outlet increasing the range of shaving creams from 2 to 22 items, and contributed to a 45% increase in the rate of sale of this range.
AutoAisle can be implemented quickly through the use of tablets at tills, or can be integrated with tills and points of sale if a store decides to adopt it, adds Lanz.
The solution broadcasts stock levels to ensure that customers are aware of the items that are out of stock. The data from the system can be made available to store managers, purchasing managers, distribution centres and logistics firms, according to client needs, he says.
“This, incidentally, also means that stakeholders have a direct, real-time view of the levels of stock of the items within the AutoAisle system.”
The solution protects the stock held in the storage rooms. As the items enter a secure area, they are captured on the system, which helps to ensure the system serves as a secure sales channel for retailers, he concludes.