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Retail cashes in on technology

Hamish Barwick | Jan. 18, 2012
The Australian retail sector has been doing it tough of late with the triple whammy of a strong dollar, consumers increasing their purchases from overseas-based online retailers and the two-speed economy.

With regard to self-checkout and contactless payments, the company is investigating a number of payment technologies such as contactless pinpads as well as mobile POS offerings. Myer's current POS system allows it to deploy wireless registers in store to support sale and special events.

The company also has an iPad application for its store magazine, Emporium, as well as an iPhone application linked to its existing website which means customers have the convenience of shopping using their iPhone.


For the Hoyts cinema chain technology has been both a blessing and a curse to its retail operations, the company's business systems manager, Geoff Henry, says.

On the curse side, the biggest threats to the business aren't the downturn in retail, the two speed economy or the high dollar; they're pirated downloads and consumers who prefer to invest money in home entertainment systems so they can watch movies in the comfort of their own lounge rooms.

In response, the company has turned to social media, rolling out a Facebook application, SocialTix, to make it easier for customers to buy tickets. As of August the SocialTix application had 1,391 likes although Hoyts did not have any numbers of how many people had actually used SocialTix.

The cinema chain also began using Twitter in August to handle customer enquiries such as when movies will be released in Australia and also promote competitions such as free movie tickets.

To make ticket purchasing easier it is also working on a Tap and Go payment project with the Commonwealth Bank as part of a broader rejuvenation of the point of sale systems.

"That is still at a trial stage and we are evaluating regions that have the Tap and Go capability and looking at integrating that into our ticketing system," Henry says.

"We also want to streamline that process so people can get a seat online and not have to stand in a queue waving their credit card around. We're working with a third party integrator on a project so people can present their mobile device at a scanner and have the barcode on the smartphone screen scanned."

Hoyts is also planning to eventually phase out its paper ticketing system as the penetration of smart phones begins to ramp up so patrons will simply have to present their smartphone with a virtual ticket displayed on it. According to Henry smartphone penetration is now at over 50 per cent in the Australian market.

"There are some operational questions about how we implement that, just because of the physical layout of our cinemas, and the need for some people to come back out [when the movie is playing] to go to the candy bar or go to the toilet," he says of the project.


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