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Retailers missing out on big technology benefits

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Everyone hates long queues, they are frustrating and a complete waste of time. However BRONWYN WATT at Paycorp believes that a simple POS system will make things much easier and keep customers happy.

Visit any shopping centre while the sales are on and you’re very likely to find it heaving with bargain-hunters. But a while later you’ll find they’re not so keen.

Why? Because South African retailers are inclined to treat their customers like sheep. You don’t realise you’re doing it but every time you make your customers stand in queues, that’s how they feel.

The psychology of queuing is not pretty. Most people are too polite to express their frustration but making them wait in a queue – especially when they’re trying to give you their money – is demoralising. And when people are demoralised they become restless and surly. Far from delighting your customers, you become their tormentor.

A queue, especially a long, slow one, makes people feel as if they have been forced to submit to a system that is inefficient. And, be honest, isn’t that exactly what’s happening? You have probably felt these feelings yourself when forced to queue.

The world has changed dramatically and, along with it, service expectations. Most of us inhabit an online world for a fair portion of the day. In this world, everything happens fast. Online you can find, order and pay for a product in mere minutes and it will be delivered directly to you tomorrow.

Products are the easy part of the business. They are simply consumed. Service is another matter entirely because it is experienced in real time, with time being the key word. No wonder customers begrudge the time they are forced to stand in queues.

So if service is your best friend and queue your worst enemy, what can you do to get more of the former and less of the latter? The very same modern technology that makes customers so impatient also provides the solution to their need for speed: mobile point-of-sale (mPOS).

mPOS systems are not just for artisans who trade at markets and mobile service providers like plumbers and electricians. There’s no reason not to use an mPOS in-store… and a great many good reasons to do so, not the least of which is that it’s a simple and elegant solution to those nasty queues that your customers hate so much.

5 key elements to look for in an mPOS system:

  • Up-to-date security: to ensure that every transaction is safe and secure, payment information should not only be encrypted but also transferred via point-to-point encryption to a PCI Level 1 certified gateway.
  • Integration with your existing system: you shouldn’t need to buy a whole new payments system to use mPOS: you should be able to quickly and easily introduce it within your current system.
  • Bank agnostic: it should work with every bank that has a local presence.
  • Easy to use: there’s nothing complicated about mPOS. It’s a quick, easy solution.
  • Fully communication-enabled in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet: you should be able to use your mPOS system everywhere, at any time. If you really want to gain major customer service points and put your competitors in the shade, how about letting customers pay for the products they want as they walk out of the changing room! Seriously, how impressed would you be if that happened to you in-store? Talk about delighting your customers!

* Bronwyn Watt, Group Marketing Manager at Paycorp

Cars

LHI is coming to save your car from hazards

Local Hazard Information will give drivers advance warning of potential dangers lurking around the corner

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There are many times when knowing what is around the corner could be useful. But for drivers that knowledge could be critical. Now, thanks to Ford’s new connected car technology, it is also a reality.

Local Hazard Information (LHI) marks a significant step on the journey towards a connected transport infrastructure by helping drivers prepare for and potentially avoid dangers on the road. When drivers ahead encounter sudden tailbacks, accidents or spilled loads, the driver behind – and possibly out of sight – is given advance warning. This could also apply to everything from freak hailstorms, to sudden flooding, or even landslides.

The triggers for the system come from what is happening in the cars ahead. It could be that airbags have been activated, hazard warning lights are flashing, or windscreen wipers are in operation. Previous traffic incident alert systems have relied on drivers to input information in order to generate alerts. LHI works autonomously, without the need for any driver interaction, to generate information and issue warnings.

Hazards are only displayed – via the dashboard display – if the incident is likely to impact on the driver’s journey. LHI is designed to be more beneficial to drivers than hazard information from current radio broadcasting systems, which often deliver notifications not relevant to them.

Already featuring as standard and free of charge for the first year on the new Ford Puma, LHI technology is being rolled out across more than 80 per cent of Ford’s passenger vehicle line-up by the end of this year. Crucially, the benefit will not be limited only to those travelling in Ford vehicles. Information sent can be used to alert drivers of other manufacturers’ vehicles, and vice-versa.

“What makes Local Hazard Information different is that it is the cars that are connected – via the Internet of Things. There is no reliance on third party apps. This is a significant step forward. Warnings are specific, relevant and tailored to try to help improve your specific journey.” Joerg Beyer, executive director, Engineering, Ford of Europe

How it works

Sensors monitor activities including emergency braking, fog lights and traction control to detect adverse weather or road conditions. Data from these activities is then computed to determine the hazard location and whether a traffic incident has occurred.

The vehicle automatically provides updates through a secure connection to “the cloud” using the Ford Pass Connect modem. Ford’s technology partner HERE Technologies operates the central cloud-based platform that collates information from multiple vehicle brands, governed by a business-to-business agreement.

The more cars are connected to the network, the greater the efficiency of the system. When many vehicles generate the same warning, others in the vicinity receive incident information from the cloud via the cellular network, enabling drivers to reduce speed or take appropriate action.

Additional information is sourced from public authority incident databases and traffic reports to provide drivers with further advance warnings including approaching vehicles driving on the wrong side of the carriageway, animals or people in the road ahead, and roadworks.

The on-board modem will be connected at the time of vehicle delivery. Customers may choose to opt in/opt out of certain data sharing.

Local Hazard Information data provided by HERE Technologies.

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Bundesliga plans to “revolutionise football viewing”

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Germany’s Bundesliga football league has selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its official technology provider to deliver more in-depth insight into every live broadcast of Bundesliga games and enable personalised fan experiences. 

Bundesliga says it will use AWS artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), analytics, compute, database, and storage services to deliver real-time statistics to predict future plays and game outcomes. It will also use the technology to recommend personalised match footage across mobile, online, streaming, and television broadcasts.

Using AWS technology, Germany’s premier national football league will build new cloud-based services that automate processes, increase operational efficiency, and enhance the viewing experience for the league’s rapidly growing global fan base. By developing a new, next-generation statistics platform on AWS, using Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed service to build, train, and deploy ML models, Bundesliga will offer fans real-time predictions on when a goal is likely to be scored, identify potential goal-scoring opportunities, and highlight how teams are positioning and controlling the field, based on live data streams and historical data from over 10,000 Bundesliga games. Bundesliga also plans to leverage AWS ML services, such as Amazon Personalize, an ML service to create real-time and individualized recommendations, to offer fans personalized game footage, marketing promotions, and search results based on their favourite teams, players, or matches.

Using other AWS ML services, including Amazon Rekognition, an intelligent image and video analysis service, Bundesliga will build a cloud-based media archive that will automatically tag specific frames, from its more than 150,000 hours of video, with metadata such as game, jersey, player, team, and venue, so that the league can easily search historical footage and surface pivotal plays for in-game broadcasts, in more than 200 countries. This archive will enable Bundesliga to search across its entire history of football footage to provide a more enhanced viewing experience for fans and automate the current manual process of searching and tagging match highlights.

“We are extremely excited to be working alongside AWS to develop the next generation of football viewing experience,” said Christian Seifert, CEO of Bundesliga. “Innovation means challenging the status quo. Working closely with AWS, as one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, significantly enhances the investment we’ve made in innovation over the past two decades, all of which contributes to us being able to deliver a world-class football experience for our fans.”

“As the league with the highest average number of goals per game, and the highest stadium attendance globally, the Bundesliga is one of the most entertaining sports leagues in the world,” says Andy Isherwood, Vice President and Managing Director EMEA, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “We are thrilled to work with the Bundesliga and help them use cloud technology to give football fans around the world a more engaging match day experience and look forward to helping them leverage our deep portfolio of ML and AI services so they can deliver even greater insight into the world’s favourite game.”

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