Retail Technology Review spoke with Colin Mackie, Chief Marketing Officer for Ergonomic Solutions, during the recently held Retail Expo at London’s Olympia.
Here, he discusses the background behind the launch of the company’s popular SpacePole Duo sled last year, together with the rationale behind the company’s new ISV initiative as part of its established Space Program channel network.
“Any new product starts with the genesis of an idea that comes from the desire to offer something of value and benefit to users. In the case of Ergonomic Solutions’ SpacePole Duo sled, the design concept really began at our R&D facility in Aalborg in Denmark after receiving some valuable insight from a customer about 18 months ago. The company in question was a large retailer that sold within its large stores consumer entertainment items. The company contacted us pointing out that it had an issue in its stores that was likely resulting in a considerable loss of business.
In essence, a sales associate would speak with in-store customers about the various product options available on display and the customer would make a choice as to what model he or she wanted to purchase. The sales associate would then invite the customer to place the order at the till. However, in many instances there was a sizeable queue and the customer would decide not to wait but to take away the key information about the item with the intention of purchasing it from another company’s website or store. Therefore, all the good work of the sales associate could be undone in an instant.
“Subsequently, our R&D department in Denmark got to work to come up with an effective solution. The 12-strong team at the facility has the ability to both design and customise our products with the aim of achieving the best outcome for our customers – enabling them to operate more effectively and to get the best return on investment. Moreover, from our point of view, we want to be able to make a big splash by leveraging this type of customer feedback and bringing something unique to market that will offer real value to our customers.
“In this particular case, we knew we had a lot of experience in designing mounting devices and understood the electronics behind the devices that were fitted to these mounts. So, after considering the optimum ergonomic form factor for users such as the example above, we developed a sled-mount that could link a customer’s EPoS mobile payment device and smartphone device running the retailers Instore software. The result was the launch of our SpacePole Duo sled last year. It is designed to hold two devices simultaneously; one either side of the mount.
The Duo sled can hold a mobile/portable card payment EPoS device on one side of the mount, and a smart device such as Samsung or iPhone on the other. In terms of mobile/portable card payment EPoS devices, the mounts have been designed for the use of either an Ingenico (ISMP4) or Verifone (e355) mobile payment terminal solutions and Ergonomic Solutions is currently working on expanding that line of compatible payment terminals. These devices can be paired with a smart device running on either an Android or Apple iOS operating system. However, because the SpacePole Duo is device agnostic, if a customer prefers to use other smart phones with the mount, this can be easily arranged.
“After launching the SpacePole Duo, we knew it offered unique advantages in the marketplace. However, we realised that many software vendors (ISVs) might not be fully aware of the mount and its potential as a selling tool for their own solutions. We therefore decided to focus on attracting more ISV partners as part of our established Space Program channel initiative to make ISVs fully aware of the benefits and business potential of SpacePole Duo.
Naturally, we are keen to bring the SpacePole Duo message to as many partners as possible and have applications ready to run on it to make it an even easier sell for ISVs. Encouragingly, we are already receiving very positive feedback from a number of prominent ISVs. For example, on the opening day of NRF 2019 in New York in January, we signed Danish Software Developer, Fiftytwo, as a member of our ISV program. Fiftytwo delivers industry specific software solutions for retail, leasing and the media.
As an ISV partner, Fiftytwo is able to access the support of Ergonomic Solutions’ technical specialists, product, and sales and marketing teams to support the launch of its 52RETAIL software package on the SpacePole Duo sled to the retail industry across Scandinavia. 52 RETAIL is based upon sound business logic and ensures that Mobile POS (mPOS) terminals are connected to the rest of the business in real time so that there is a constant availability of live data. Like 52RETAIL’s traditional point of sale software, the mPOS version also integrates with other systems to provide a real time view of in-store operations.
“The Duo sled complements our Instore Tablet enclosure strategy. We already have is over 80,000 tablet installations worldwide, so we understand the key issues surrounding the use of tablets within retail – such as security from theft, expandability (the ability to mount the tablet in several different ways; for example on a wall or desk, or integrate it with a printer& cash drawer) and chargeability (a fixed POS terminal is plugged in whereas tablets require a re-charging docking facility). The ISV program will also be expanded to our tablet enclosures and aimed at the ISVs with tablet solutions to join the program.
“So, with our Ergonomic Solutions ISV initiative in full swing, the continuing success of SpacePole Duo & tablet enclosures coupled with our future technology growth roadmap, we are confident that we will continue to offer real benefit and value to our channel partners, ISVs and their end-customers.”