Looking to the future – Valora is networked and digitally equipped

Digitisation has ushered in a phase of transition on the retail market. Yet despite new technologies, meeting customer needs and personal contact still remain the basis of a successful retail company. With its Digital Innovation team, Valora relies on first-hand information and has assumed a pioneering role with numerous offers and projects. It has done so in order to utilise the digital transformation, to drive improvements and offer its customers a better range.

How will the retail market develop over the coming years? What will this mean for customers and how will their shopping habits change as a result? Valora addresses such questions in detail and has a Digital Innovation team addressing precisely this issue in San Francisco. New products and services are conceived, tested and made marketable in its own lab. Numerous small pilot tests help here to quickly determine customer needs and increase levels of customer acceptance. By performing such tests, Valora is assuming a pioneering role in various sectors and is actively influencing the development of the retail market.

For a long time now, Valora’s points of sale have no longer just offered the traditional range of press, tobacco, food and non-food items, but also a wide range of digital services. In doing so, they often serve as an interface between the digital and analogue worlds. At k kiosk and Press & Books in Switzerland, for example, it is possible to purchase an online payment means with the paysafecard. A further example is the “easy point” cooperation with Swisscom, which allows customers who have concluded a subscription online, for example, to pick up the relevant hardware from a Valora point of sale. Similar offers exist in the areas of parcel delivery, travel and the ordering of tickets.

Your smartphone as a shopping trolley

Over recent years, our smartphones have become a permanent companion during our day-to-day lives and now no longer merely serve as a means of communication, but also as a tool for accessing the digital world. Valora has adapted accordingly to the new needs of its customers and accepts, for example, payments with the Apple Pay and Samsung Pay mobile payment services at all of its points of sale.

In 2017, k kiosk also launched a loyalty app, which customers can use as a digital reward card, allowing them to take advantage of attractive discounts and free products. Using the k kiosk app, for example, which has received an award from the NACS industry organisation, customers can collect stamps for free products every time they make a purchase. The stamps can be redeemed by the customers themselves or given to friends. With a further innovative application, Caffè Spettacolo makes commuters’ lives simpler by allowing them to order and pay for their coffee in advance with the easy-to-use Caffè Spettacolo app. Queuing at the point of sale is thus a thing of the past.

One quirk of using mobile devices is that they are largely dependent on their battery runtime. Even the best apps and services are of little use if they cannot be used due to a dead battery. The Swiss start-up Battere had the same thought and developed a solution of the same name. As part of its cooperation with various innovative start-ups, Valora has recognised the potential of utilising this idea at its points of sale. The mobile chargers, which are charged using solar energy, are available at the k kiosk, Press & Books and avec sales outlets and can be returned there for recharging after use. Thanks to Valora, customers can take advantage of a Swiss-wide network of more than 1,000 points of sale for the lending and returning of the devices.

Shopping at the press of a button thanks to networking

During 2017, together with the Institute for the Future (IFTF), an independent, charitable research organisation, Valora investigated how the “Internet of information” is becoming an “Internet of actions” due to increased networking. This refers to the growing ability of networked objects and devices to act on an automated basis. The US market research institute Gartner expects the number of networked objects worldwide to total more than 30 billion by 2020. Cars, lights, thermostats and even washing machines are already linked today and numerous additional everyday objects will be added to this list in future.

What’s more, the objects will no longer only exchange basic information as is the case at present, but also be increasingly able to perform actions autonomously thanks to artificial intelligence. For example, your refrigerator will make sure that your favourite drink is on hand when guests arrive, or your coffee machine will ensure that nobody is left without a coffee in the morning.

Many such scenarios are still a dream of the future, but there are also networked objects that are already available today. For example, Valora launched an initial test phase for the new ok.– button at the end of 2017. It allows customers to order their favourite products from Valora’s ok.– brand to be delivered to their homes at the press of a button. After completing a short registration, the entire order process is taken care of with just one press of a button; including the payment and delivery. The process is confirmed with an SMS.

Ready when our customers are

Digitisation is a process that will significantly change our society. Valora recognised this trend at an early stage and is ready to develop further on an ongoing basis through innovative projects. Going forward, it will continue to employ modern technologies to help it succeed in optimally meeting the needs of its customers. To this end, Valora is putting its faith in direct exchanges with its customers in its various formats. Always with the objective of being able to provide them with the right offer at the right time – everywhere they find themselves on the move.

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