Henderson Technology’s Darren Nickels reveals how the company is helping independent retailers seize the technology trends that are already shaping the multiples.

 It is fantastic to see convenience retailers becoming more advanced in how they use EPoS. They want more than just a counting machine; they want to understand how it can help their business in the long term. We are in one of the most turbulent times that hopefully we will ever see – and retailers want to sweat their assets even more. 

One of our best recent examples of this is when we expanded into self-checkouts. They are established in the supermarkets, where they have the capital to invest in making it work, but they are less prevalent in independent stores. 

There are two main barriers to self-checkouts. The first is the investment – there are plenty of other worthy areas of the store where retailers can invest in improving their margins. The second is space – we did not want to be in a position where we were trying to take over large parts of the store. 

We redesigned self-checkouts and made them a bolt-on to any of our tills. Most stores will have two tills, but one is likely only used at high-footfall times. Now, the rest of the time it can be turned into a self-serve till without taking up any more space. It is about a fifth of the cost over five years that a self-checkout would be traditionally. We have rolled it out to 100 stores, including BP in August. 

The trend towards contactless and frictionless shopping has been accelerated by the Covid-19 lockdown. We are now trialling Ubamarket’s ‘scan, pay, go’ platform, which allows customers to complete their shop using their smartphone. We have gone live in three stores, supported by app-only offers and incentives, and early signs indicate that it is going well. 

With these changes, you have to analyse how the shopper is behaving. Self-checkouts are the first step into frictionless shopping, while ‘scan, pay, go’ is more advanced. Not every retailer is there yet, but we are making sure we have answers for those that are. 

We can do this because we partner with retailers for the long term. Store owners who work with us pay nothing up front. Instead they buy into a ‘per checkout’ package and we scale up from there. Our contracts last for five years and at the point of renewal, when another new contract is signed, we come back and replace all the equipment with the latest tech for the next five years. It means that our development team is never working with technology that is more than five years old, which allows us to bring new features and services to the whole estate. 

Investing in EPoS means you are investing in the system that controls the money in your business, so it has to do things correctly. It is absolutely right that retailers should ask for more from their providers and make it really work for them. Then you get to the point where EPoS is no longer just a necessary evil, but instead something that can help you grow your business in years to come.