News & Insights

How Fit2Run Proved a New Commerce Model From a Pandemic

Very few retailers came out of COVID on the upside–particularly small, localized specialty retail. But with the right platform and a Managed Retail Services partner, Fit2Run made it happen.

No one saw a pandemic coming, but fitness specialty retailer Fit2Run kept pace with the constant set of new requirements it brought on, then ended up miles ahead by putting a new retail services model called Managed Retail Services to its ultimate litmus test. 

The idea of ‘unified commerce’ is not new, but it’s been more buzzword than business imperative. Put simply, it commits to the customer experience as the top corporate imperative and uses one single commerce platform to deliver it consistently from all points. Every time a customer reaches out to the retailer from any place at any time, one central unified platform supports them. Further, it operates in real time and works fluidly, both offline and online. This means all data is streaming into one platform, making it easier to understand customers more intimately while also serving them personally, predictively and proactively. 

When COVID hit, Fit2Run was celebrating a series of notable wins regarding their physical store experience. Years of commitment towards innovation was paying off, as they were enjoying both the press and the profits from many compelling customer experiences they had creatively activated in their Superstore concept. What they had not focused on, however, was their ecommerce experience. Fit2Run did have an integrated ecomm platform, but traction from their web efforts was slow. 

When the edict was handed down to close all stores, things changed in a matter of days. The Fit2Run website was hit with a 20x influx of customer traffic and revenue, but since they had invested in a ‘unified commerce’ platform with All Point Retail, they were ready. The platform Fit2Run runs on integrates systems, processes, workflows and management–from POS to inventory to analytics and beyond–in an ‘elastic’ manner, so it was seamless to add a few features and functions to support a wild increase in online customer demand.

What they did: 

  • Integrated the phone system, which allowed traffic to be immediately routed from stores to ecomm and have managers take orders with reduced staff but increased volume.
  • An integrated texting/messaging platform was introduced into the ecosystem, which allowed for native Google integration for text communications with customers–which answered customer questions, took orders, and facilitated an immediate shift to curbside pick-up and delivery when the stores reopened with limited capacity.
  • User experience for the customer was the same highly personalized, industry knowledgeable interaction F2R customers were used to, but they were able to use whichever platform suited them at the time.
  • Existing EDI capabilities between F2R and many of their vendors allowed them to continue to fulfill the increased volume in a timely manner (even though stores and warehouses were closed) by leveraging direct ship from inventory reserved for them around the country by their vendor partners–again, all within the same integrated platform.

Ultimately, Fit2Run didn’t just survive the pandemic. With All Point’s Managed Retail Commerce behind them, they thrived.

Contact us today to learn more about how Managed Retail Commerce can benefit your retail operations!

www.allpointretail.com 

An All Point Q&A with Runnings Insights Magazine

What is your elevator pitch?

All Point is a retail commerce/IT services company that integrates retail systems, processes, workflows and management–from POS to inventory to analytics–under one roof, all managed by an All Point customer success team. By unleashing the potential of unified commerce for any retailer centered around one integrated IT platform and bolstered by our consulting, design, development, implementation and support services, we are able customize solutions to help retailers address their IT challenges from “all points”. 

Why do you approach things this way?

Omnichannel has been a buzzword for close to a decade, yet few retailers have truly cracked the code on making it not just a fulfillment effort, but a 360-degree customer reality. To make it real, all systems must work together with one common, forward-facing vision for their customers. All points of commerce must have the same look, feel and symbiotic experience, yet operate contextually for the touchpoint. When the pandemic hit, this became an imperative–so we set out to make it turnkey, allowing  retailers to pivot ‘elastically’ across all platforms.

What are the benefits to retailers?

We focus exclusively on the retail vertical and our business model is centered around the business goals of our client ownership. We design their technology platforms to be flexible enough to meet their needs now, but also grow as they grow.  We have 3 main components of our business

  •  IT and technology support.  This includes traditional network management, POS hardware, telephony, integrated video, in-store business intelligence, etc.  It is supported by our own in-house team, 7 days a week, during the typical 18-hour retail day.
  • Retail Business Process and Consulting.  We have executives from all walks of retail that assist in the design and implementation of the software platforms that make our clients’ businesses run in all channels, from standard Retail Management systems (POS/OMS/CRM) to all other channels, including e-commerce, ERP, WMS, Mobile, Pop-ups, etc. We hold their hands through the migration from their old systems to one unified platform.
  • Integration and Development.  We went ‘all in’ with our own in-house US-based development team to handle and support client integrations internally. We believe this is the only way we can truly deliver an ‘elastic’ integrated platform to our clients so that their customers can have synchronized brand experience, from the web to in-store to mobile and beyond.
How did the pandemic affect your clients?

Those that were already on an integrated elastic platform thrived through the pandemic, as they were able to accommodate the explosive need for web and mobile, as well as curbside pickup, drop ship, endless aisle, etc, with very little heartburn.  During the pandemic, these requirements were necessary to stay alive while stores were dark, so it was an imperative to pivot quickly. For those that weren’t ready with an integrated infrastructure, it cemented their need to get there, sparking them to pursue those areas that they were still waiting on–which is where a lot of run specialty retailers are now. The customer expects a similar experience from their favorite retailer no matter where they engage with them…and the pandemic made this abundantly clear. It’s a new imperative to support this. 

Looking forward, what do retailers need to think about?

Customers now want the convenience of web and mobile–along with the personalized engagement they expect everywhere–in the in-store experience. Events and pops up are also here to stay. It makes sense, as COVID forced the entire industry to service customers via entirely new retail formats, and many are now here to stay. It’s about meeting where they live, traverse and seek to shop at, which is no longer just the store. 

What technology advice to you have for retailers?

Don’t be hesitant because you think it’s expensive to change or that you’ve invested so much into your legacy systems that it’s better to bolt onto it or bandaid your innovations. Our business model eliminates both of these barriers to change with no upfront capex, making it easier to sell it through to the C-suite. We’re a partner that can handle all aspects of this kind of transition, and actually walk with a client regarding how to best use their technology, often times at a cost equal to or less than they used to spend on systems that didn’t work

Finally, where does your technology go from here – upgrades, new applications, etc.? 

We’re constantly evaluating retail technologies for our clients and designing next level technologies that can truly impact their growth and performance. We just finished a 12-month project on a fully integrated video solution with POS. The client’s existing video system can now provide true real-time business analytics utilizing POS transactions coupled with video metrics and analytics. It also provides an intuitive dashboard that a manager can analyze every morning. It displays everything so many valuable things such traffic and conversion rates (by store and by associate), labor efficiency, cue times in front of POS, dwell times in all areas of the store (all revenue increasing and people management functions), while at the same time identifying risk by associate by store. It delivers metrics and side-by-side analytics to the manager in bite sized deliverables, showing the actual POS receipt, the risk exception to be tracked, and a 2-minute video clip for quick analysis. We have secured orders for over 100 of these systems from our current client base just in the first 90 days. The ROI is tied directly to their ATV and UPT and is a revenue-generating force multiplier for our retail clients, but also a great tool for catching fraud or improper procedures.

Contact us today to learn more about how Managed Retail Commerce can benefit your retail operations!

www.allpointretail.com 

 

Managed Retail Commerce is what, exactly?

Retailers have been increasingly challenged to revisit their IT infrastructure to better address changing channel and customer requirements, a situation made more pressing by the unexpected business requirements 2020 brought forward. Already facing the need to integrate people, places, platforms and protocols to ensure fluid experiences, support and transaction types, the pandemic added the additional stress of pared down internal teams and resources to support rising customer expectations. What are retailers to do? Enter Managed Retail Commerce.

Managed services have been a ‘thing’ for a very long time, and for good reason. The technology know-how, resources and ability to ensure critical up-time for many retail tech operations is hard, and many firms have focused on offering their support on an outsourced basis with managed services. However, when it comes to an integrated retail IT platform, things get even harder. It needs to be fluid, always on and bullet-proof dependable, and it is why we created Managed Retail Commerce. Essentially, it is an innovative retail technology business model that unleashes the potential of unified commerce. Behind the curtain, all systems work together with one common, forward-facing vision for customers, with all points of commerce providing a similar look, feel and  experience, but operating contextually for the touchpoint.

All Point’s Managed Retail Commerce service is an integrated offering, including all hardware, SAAS, integrations, platforms and unlimited service support coverage in a fixed monthly technology-as-a-service model. This helps clients focus on the business operations needed to meet customer needs, rather than be restricted and limited by their current infrastructure or workflows.

Here’s the specific punch list for each key bucket of service functions.

Managed

–  On-site Installation
–  Cyber Security
–  In-house Remote Support
–  Network Management
–  Redundant Failover Internet
–  Training
–  Assigned Account Team

Retail

–  Business Elasticity
–  Business Process Mapping
–  Video Integration analytics: AI Driven ROI
–  Mobile/Pop Ups / Store in Store / Events
–  Inventory Control
–  Logistics
–  Analytics
–  Ecommerce
–  Digital Integration

Commerce

–  Technology backbone that allows clients to seamlessly present a common customer experience across all platforms, from online, in-store, and mobile to non-traditional.
–  Common Platform POS / OMS / CRM
–  Scalable from 10 – 1000+ Locations
–  Technology-as-a-Service
–  In-House Integration Management
–  WMS, ERP, ECOM
–  Clienteling/Loyalty
–  EDI, Endless Aisle, Drop Ship
–  Online Marketplace Integration: AMZ, FBA by AMZ, Ebay, Walmart

With the rising pressure for the retail commerce functions to work harder, this is not an easy proposition, but it’s all All Point does–technology for retail. This is a key, as the secret sauce for a managed retail IT proposition is not just software and integrations, but the staff behind the curtain. All Point’s team brings expertise from all corners of the retail ecosystem, applying their knowledge consultatively to ensure clients know HOW to best use the technology to achieve measurable business results. They’ve lived retail’s realities for decades, so doing this is as natural as breathing.

We help our managed retail commerce clients meet their customers at the many intersection points of their lives, seamlessly and personalized to their needs.

All Point Retail has been pushing this innovative way of doing business for years, and the value of this approach was proved out to existing clients when the pandemic hit. They were able to pivot their business operations instantaneously with no loss of connection to their customers. The result? They catapulted their businesses past their much larger retail competitors. If they want to swing by a store and pick up at the curb, get something sent home swiftly, ping for a product via mobile, grab on impulse from an automated vending machine or pop by a pop-up, our solution can make it happen. And as the formats of retail continue to expand, this will be the future foundation for all retail.

Contact us today to learn more about how Managed Retail Commerce can benefit your retail operations!

www.allpointretail.com 

RMS migration image

Working with Microsoft RMS? We Have a Migration Plan in Hand!

Microsoft announced back in 2015 that their point of sale (POS) software, Microsoft Dynamics RMS 2.0, was entering into the “extended support phase” of its product life cycle. They gave the estimated 45,000 companies using their Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) plenty of time to get a migration game plan in place, even creating a paid annual maintenance support program until July of 2021, when it will end. Many users are wondering what this means for their business, and with good reason–some forums are of the belief that even telephone support will be shut down within a few months.

Relying on partners to continue to support RMS can only go so far, and there is a very real chance that by doing nothing, you’ll have a loss of working integrations or add-ons, a lack of hardware support and issues with Windows. The only real solution you have is to migrate to another platform. But which one?

All Point Retail was one of the top RMS dealers for over 15 years running, so we’re the ideal people to offer a point of view on RMS replacement solutions. We know the ins and outs of it, and we know the best options to get you out of this potential bind. In fact, one of our management team members was on the board to evaluate RMH (the heir apparent offering of Microsoft to replace RMS) and was a top dealer for decades. Back then, he saw the writing on the wall regarding its product life cycle–and why.

There’s a Proliferation of POS Options…Here’s Your Checklist for Choices

There are a lot of POS choices at varying price points and features, but it’s really important to keep in mind that you’ll want to be able to import customer information, sales history, etc., with little-to-no extra effort or outside vendor charges to make it happen. You’ll also want a system that is similar in look, feel and usability to RMS. Beyond these basic needs, however, is a punch list of POS imperatives that we think necessary for both today and tomorrow’s retail POS solutions. They are not based on opinion–they are based on our years in the RMS and POS alternative trenches.

1.Get customer-centric. Okay, this may sound like a buzzword, but it’s really not. Customer first is a mindset as well as a retail movement. It means you have CRM ingrained into all your touchpoints–online, mobile and in-store–unified, CX-first and tokenized, which ensures a consistently excellent experience with no PII concerns.

2. Your back of house needs to meet or exceed what RMS had. That means robust. As in it has an OMS ordering system, killer cross-channel inventory control and accountability, the ability to transfer and send sales, in-house stock counts and multi-channel fulfillment.

3. It needs to operate with or without the Internet. This is where cloud-based systems struggle. If you lose the Net you lose your register, you can guarantee the loss of one more critical thing–sales. Slow, intermittent or unreliable transactions can be just as bad…lags, crashes and sludges while customers are trying to buy just makes them want to abandon. *Note: we’ve solved this within the software we use as well as by building redundant infrastructure around it, but it’s not a standard thing. So get serious about making it happen.

4. Is it integratable? Integrating with other platforms is now a necessity–be it for ecomm, ERP/ accounting system, WMS and 3PL, EDI Feeds, loyalty modules, mobile apps, clienteling solutions or anything else that may become necessary. And it will. Your Microsoft RMS replacement must have mature and robust APIs that make integration achievable. All Point Retail has its own in-house integration and development team, which is the only way to support Managed Retail Commerce in today’s world.

5. Balance the burden of change. The biggest barrier to change is going to be the capital expenditure of switching systems. We’ll be honest here, the workload involved is heavy. But having dealt with it for years, All Point Retail has lightened the load to make it happen in a few ways.

  • Our business model avoids the necessity of up front investment dollars. Instead, we offer a fixed cost and monthly payments.
  • Our in-house integration team handles the data migration from Microsoft RMS, taking it completely off your shoulders.
  • We can clean up your data and development new business processes to best utilize the program based on your unique needs, both now and in the (likely unforeseeable) future.
  • We approach CRM right, where the front of house has the basics (return, transact, split transaction, gift cards, etc.), but also support features such as AI-driven customer feedback reports, so you can get the insights you need to keep things frictionless.
  • We ditched the PC for the cloud. When we migrated from the PC and moved our client POS solutions into a new cloud-based platform, our client service calls dropped 90%. This is also because we built a strong store-level infrastructure to support its reliability and stability. It’s a lightweight infrastructure that also facilitates mobile. What’s not to love?

 

All Point Can Help

All Point Retail is software agnostic but retail hypervigilant, and we have a few Microsoft RMS replacement solutions that we stand behind confidently. We combine the right software platforms to meet your business needs and current size, then we develop an infrastructure that’s not only stable, but also elastic–thus allowing you to scale and integrate to whatever level you think you can reach. These two key factors, combined with unlimited flat rate service for our 7 days a week/18 hours a day in-house support team, gives you the three biggest reasons to talk to us about how we can help you smoothly transition from Microsoft RMS and propel your retail business forward.

Technology is evolving, customer expectations are changing and companies are more under the gun than ever to serve shoppers where, how and when they want it, free of headaches and chock full of good customer service. The platforms to support this have leapt far beyond Microsoft RMS, and All Point Retail is ready and waiting to help you migrate into an exciting new world of POS possibilities. At All Point Retail, Managed Retail Commerce is essentially all that we do!

Contact us today to talk about how we can help you with a smooth migration path from Microsoft RMS!

New Managed Retail Commerce Solution to Make Unified Commerce Possible for Retailers

SARASOTA FL, APRIL 15 2021 – All Point, a specialty retail IT solutions company, has announced their new Managed Retail Commerce offering, a new service that unleashes the potential of unified commerce for any retailer. Centered around one integrated IT platform and bolstered by their consulting, design, development, implementation and support services, they customize solutions to help retailers address their IT challenges from “all points”, creating a foundation for both current and future needs states.

Retailers have been increasingly challenged to revisit their IT infrastructure to better address changing channel and customer requirements, a situation made more pressing by the unexpected impact of COVID. Already facing the need to integrate people, places, platforms and protocols to ensure fluid experiences, support and transaction types, the pandemic added the additional stress of pared down internal teams and resources to support rising customer expectations.

“All Point understands the rising pressure of technology in the retail vertical. In fact, that’s all we do–technology for retail,” shared All Point CEO Sean Quinn. “We’ve lived retail’s realities for decades and have always been ahead of the curve, which is why we were so ready for the surprises COVID presented us with. Our platform and Managed Retail Commerce model can fill the gaps for retailers doing more with less, while also adding the power of our platform and its ability, stability and, importantly, investment feasibility. We can help any retailer meet these new demands but also save money, sell more, and gain critical speed to market as they return to business.”

Omnichannel has been a buzzword for close to a decade, yet few retailers have truly cracked the code on making it not just a fulfillment effort, but a 360-degree customer promise. To make it real, all systems must be working together with one common, forward-facing vision for their customers. All points of commerce must have the same look, feel and symbiotic experience, yet operate contextually for the touchpoint. This is the vision and technology that underpins the promise of managed retail commerce and, when implemented, it allows retailers to pivot ‘elastically’ across platforms.

“Our light and flexible technology backbone allows our clients to seamlessly present a common customer experience across all platforms, from online to in-store, mobile to non-traditional, all while ensuring that they can scale and pivot rapidly based on whatever demands show up for them,” All Point VP of Sales and Business Development Will Amos contributed. “Now more than ever, it has become evident that the customers expect retailers to meet them where they are, no matter where across the journey spectrum.”

Every time a new service evolution such as 2-day shipping, BOPIS, self-checkout and other emerging commerce options emerge, customers perceive them as new expectation for all retailer brands. Post-pandemic, this means transparency on product availabilities across all channels, personalized to their preferences but with privacy in mind.

“Ultimately, what we are offering is a method to get back to business efficiently and cost-effectively with a foundational ecosystem that makes this possible,” added Mr. Quinn. “We help our retail clients meet their customers at the many intersection points of their lives. If they want to swing by a store and pick up at the curb, get something sent home swiftly, ping for a product via mobile, grab on impulse from automated vending machine or pop by a pop up, our solution can make it happen. And as the formats of retail continue to expand, it’s the foundation that will lead them into the future.

All Point’s Managed Retail Commerce

Please visit www.allpointretail.com for more information.

About All Point

All Point is an integrated IT company that unleashes the potential of unified commerce to any retailer. Enabled by their Managed Retail Commerce offering, brands can now outsource all or part of their retail IT needs–from POS to inventory to analytics and beyond–to swiftly and nimbly flex to any operational or customer requirement, regardless of place or platform. Further supported by their ‘one point of responsibility’ model, custom solutions and creative financing, retailers can now get the help they need for evolving IT requirements so they can better focus on what matters most–selling.

Contact Information:

Will Amos
VP, Sales and Business Development
All Point
will@allpointpos.com