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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Is your business fit for the Olympics 2012?

Monday April 26 2010

With the 2012 Olympics just over two years away, Brian Norman, managing director at Vista Retail Support, asks whether retailers have their stores in shape for the expected influx of trade

With the 2012 Olympics just over two years away, Brian Norman, managing director at Vista Retail Support, asks whether retailers have their stores in shape for the expected influx of trade


It’s now just over two years until London hosts the 2012 Olympic Games.


Obviously, the athletes are ramping up their training programmes, watching their diets and focusing on the challenge ahead, but Norman asked about the preparation of retailers in the host city. Will they be able enough to cope with the expected increase in footfall to their stores? And will their equipment and staff be fit and ready for the challenge?


Richard Lloyd-Owen, lead consumer business partner at Deloitte, summed up the opportunity succinctly when he said: “Growth in retail is getting harder to achieve. With the biggest event in the world coming to the UK, retailers cannot afford to ignore the opportunity.”


If you consider the nine million tickets due to be sold, the one million additional visitors to London, the 220 countries broadcasting the event and the 4.7 billion expected TV viewers, there is a whole host of opportunities for UK retailers. These extra visitors could amount to £3 billion in terms of additional sales during the games itself and this figure could increase to up to £10 billion when you take into account the pre and post-event activity.


Westfield boasts geographic advantage


In terms of retail activity during the Games, the Stratford City Westfield shopping centre will sit alongside the Olympic Village. It is currently under development and will bring 1.9 million square foot of new retail and leisure space to the East end of London.


Jonathan Daniels, development director of Stratford (Westfield), believes the Olympics will prompt a massive influx of people into the development. Large retailers such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer have signed up for the centre, but there are a wide variety of units available from 20 square-metre kiosks and 100 square-metre units for independent retailers.


However, Normans adds that, with a heavy increase in customer numbers in the city for a relatively short period, it will be essential that businesses focus on their people and their technology.


Time for retailers to get prepared


With the arrival of the games in the city and the positive effect it will have on London-based retailers, businesses may have to start thinking about different staffing levels than normal. Also retailers will have to be prepared for altering their opening hours to accommodate the event. Therefore, businesses may have to look at their electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) maintenance contracts to ensure their equipment is supported at the appropriate times. There may also be problems in accessing stores at certain times of day due to Olympic events taking place in the city so they will have to work closely with partners to find ways around this.


With retailers facing an increase in store traffic and with more sales going through the tills, there will be more chance of things going wrong at the PoS and staff may need training in advance to understand all the pressures of a busy store environment.


It’s not just the PoS environment that retailers need to ensure is adequately supported. Another vogue initiative is the introduction of kiosks into customer areas to help share information with customers within the store environment. In their most basic form they’re little more than a web browser in a shop, but the more sophisticated products are now offering full customer interaction with the retailer. The ability for the customer to view their loyalty account, look at stock in other local stores and if necessary place web orders, all help the customer have a single view of the retailer. Businesses must ensure that this technology is also maintained and supported.


It is vital that retailers consider all these factors to ensure they are fighting fit for 2012, poor preparation will ultimately mean poor results.


Vista Retail Support is an independent IT services company that builds, installs, supports and maintains EPoS systems for customers in retail and hospitality markets.