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IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

  • 21 Sep

Rog Day 5

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I’m sat in 204 catching up on my emails and eating my Fruit Loops! I’ve just had a popup come through on Skype saying that it’s Des’ birthday today, so I need to somehow try and sort out a card. I slept a bit better last night and only woke up a couple of times, so hopefully I’ll be back to normal tonight or tomorrow. That said I’ve just realised that I’ll probably encounter the same problem when I get back home! Des is picking me up earlier today as he has a meeting with Macy’s, who are probably SPI’s largest customer, so I better get ready.

I’ve been in the office for about ¾ of an hour, and have spent a large amount of that time talking to Alex, Retail Assist’s Marketing Manager, on Skype, about various things, including what ‘candy’ my colleagues back in Nottingham are expecting me to bring back with me! My social diary for tonight is now full, as Des has very kindly invited me to a birthday dinner that his friends have arranged for him in a nice restaurant local to the office, which I’m looking forward to. One thing has just struck me whilst I’ve been sat here writing this – they don’t use Chip & PIN over here?! I’ll ask Des about that when he gets into the office later, as I’m really curious to understand why given that they are supposedly ahead of the game over here. Our next Webex is with a 50 store Womenswear retailer based near New York, so a perfect fit for Merret and Infinity – keep you fingers crossed!

I also managed to get Des a birthday card, and given that we were discussing politics this morning in the car, the card I managed to get him with Barack Obama on the front is just so apt! Whilst in the shop I was accosted by the Chinese lady that works there, who after finding out I was English, proceeded to rant on about how when she visited England the McDonalds she went in wouldn’t accept her dollars – only in America!!

The first of today’s Webex sessions was with one of America’s largest seller of flowers. On the call with the companies’ Retail Systems Manager we had a quick chat about the pro’s and con’s (well, more con’s if I’m honest!) of a PoS solution that is completely reliant on communications infrastructure for it to function – my own personal view is that it’s a crazy thing to do, but I wonder if over here the communications infrastructure is a lot more reliable and hence retailers are more comfortable with this – another question for Des when he gets into the office!

Like Mr Ben (as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared!) Des is back from his meeting so I asked him about Chip & PIN. His view is that unlike the UK, that historically has had a small amount of very large banks and a large amount of relatively small retailers (and hence the banks force a lot of change – PCI DSS anybody?!), in the US it’s historically been the other way around, but according to Des this is starting to change, and hence over time Chip & PIN is probably something that will make it’s way Stateside.

Whilst Jack and I were sat on the second Webex call of the day, I took the opportunity to ask his thoughts about the previous Webex session and the subject of web based PoS. It appears that over here the general view is that the communications infrastructure is actually very good, and whilst it’s recognised that links could be lost, it doesn’t actually appear to be a common occurrence, and so I now understand why the person I spoke to earlier has the view he does, although I’m personally still unconvinced!

I’ve really learnt a lot these past two days about business over here, in that people are generally a lot more relaxed and laid back than over in the UK, and providing you afford people some respect and appreciate that they have busy schedules, they are happy to give you some time and tell you about their business. They are also very honest too (well the people I’ve spoken with so far anyway!), and hence you really get to know where you stand very early on in the sales process. I’ve found this quite refreshing, as whilst it does happen in the UK, there’s still a lot of people you come across who are often very guarded, and others who are happy to elongate things for as long as they can, which doesn’t serve to do anybody any good in my opinion.

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