This past week in Asheville, NC the well known Point-of-sale company ECRS brought together a few hundred people to share knowledge, ideas and see the latest in POS technology for the grocery and natural foods market. The conference, known as Ignite
, revealed the latest features and excited the user base about the benefits it could provide. The event included keynote speakers, breakout sessions, industry experts, clients, tech staff to answer questions and some awards. More than 180 retail operations were represented from 36 states and 3 countries.
ECRS' latest version of their retail management success suite, CATAPULT, includes modules for point-of-sale, ecommerce, loyalty and customer rewards, inventory management, analytics, marketing and security. All of these company-built solutions and unified and fully integrated.
While new, these modules are actually working and being delivered. Sometimes you go to a show and you don’t get to bang on the keyboard. I hate that - and I’m leery of writing about any product that the vendor won’t let you actually touch. So, when I spent a couple hours banging away on the products, and could not cause a crash, or a lock-up, I was genuinely impressed and pleasantly surprised. It really is a remarkably robust and multi-faceted system. Especially interesting for me was the online ordering module, WebCart
. It was slick and industrial grade! Like many of us I order online all the time. This is a product that I would use if my local supermarket had it.
It’s always interesting to speak with fellow attendees at these events - especially sharing a table at meal time. At one dinner, I found myself next to a person with a chain of twenty supermarkets that were still running the back office on DOS based programs they had written in Foxpro. They are upgrading their locations to the new ECRS technology. I asked what the compelling reason that finally drove them off their DOS system and they told me it was the need for a loyalty component to keep customers engaged and coming back. Ecommerce and online ordering with store pick up were driving factors for many others.
Other highlights of the event:
ECRS introduced a new self-checkout machine (see right photo) - the Supermarket 2.
Motivational speaker Harold Lloyd
(image below) gave several rousing talks on vision, mission and leadership and stressing the importance of a mission statement having a life of its own. His presence and energy really captured and entertained the audience.
ECRS CEO Pete Catoe spoke about the importance of having one software vendor to provide ALL of the components of the system.
Sponsors of the event included; Vantiv
(sponsor for the dinner and band at The Orange Peel, too), Honeywell, Datalogic, Equinox.
Several impressive new products were shown including the Secure OneTouch fingerprint scanner
. It is FAST. I’m rarely impressed by biometric devices but this one is multifaceted and works like a charm. A few uses that were intriguing - cashier check-in (time clock), manager approval of liquor sales, customer loyalty programs (allow husband, wife, kids to share one loyalty program just by using their fingerprints,) credit card tokenization!!! using fingerprints instead of cellphone NFC. The finger print device was WAY faster than a QR code or NFC payment - and arguably significantly more secure.
Caroline Catoe, Communications Lead, commented "We can't believe the turnout we had at our Ignite User Conference this year with over 180 retailers present. Enthusiasm rang throughout the conference and our keynote speaker, Harold Lloyd, was a rock star! We were so excited to release 5 new products including our new mobile consumer app and click and collect 2.0 solution, WebCart. We were told by several tenured retailers that it was the most organized and informative retail conference they have ever attended."
In short, Ignite was a place for users and prospective users to meet the development team, test and evaluate the product and get to know the company. If you’re in the grocery or natural food business, reach out to ECRS
and see if you can wrangle an invitation to a future show!
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