Today, the kiosk stands for far more than “confectionery, tobacco and magazines”. The traditional offering of food, beverages, books and lottery products also incorporates a growing number of services for packages, financial services, digital services and much more. The wide offer is increasingly posing new challenges for the small-scale, highly frequented points of sale. In 2017, Valora therefore took the decision to venture into the cloud and created a new platform for all sales communication in the form of VAPOS.info.
Valora operates a network comprising more than 2,800 points of sale in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and France. In doing so, the retail company maintains a wide range of products and services in nine strategic sales formats. With such a dense and diversified network, efficient processes and process-oriented communication between the branch, the points of sale (POS) and external partners are essential.
Many processes, many paths
The wide range of products and services allows Valora to meet the numerous needs of its customer groups in small-scale points of sale. At the same time, an offering such as this also entails a great deal of communication and collaboration work relating to the handling of business processes. The fact that this can pose challenges for employees is shown by the many tools that have been used up to now in k kiosks, for instance:
- For contact with the branch and external partners, business and private e-mail addresses and text messages from mobile devices have been used. There was no standardisation here.
- An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution was available for the management of sales, procurement and deliveries.
- The cash-register system and settlements were covered by a different system.
- On the intranet, employees could find information on new products and working principles.
- On the extranet, employees provided information for the external partners.
- All documents were organised and stored on a separate storage system. Some forms were completed by hand and thus kept in folders and archives.
“For our sales activities, we used seven different applications for communication and cooperation. Coordinating the information represented an enormous challenge for the employees at the points of sale and at the branch.”
Roberto Fedele, CIO of the Valora Group
The large number of different tools impeded the day-to-day work of employees and increased susceptibility to errors within the business processes. For these reasons, the management at Valora decided to explore new paths with modern technologies in order to remain agile and competitive over the long term. Following intensive deliberations, it was decided to opt for a solution from the cloud. The G-Suite cloud platform from Google made the best impression.
With Google, Valora is putting its faith in a partner that is used to handling and structuring large volumes of data. The international provider can also guarantee highly available operations and is at the cutting edge in terms of IT security. Wabion was called on as an IT partner to implement Valora’s specific requirements. VAPOS.info can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with Internet access and a browser. The system simplifies and standardises communication, business processes and document management in one single application.
How the new cloud system works during everyday business
With VAPOS.info, the daily activities of employees are simplified enormously, as all of the aforementioned processes can now be managed using a single application. The key lies in the structured communication. All business activities can be processed in VAPOS.info via predefined templates in accordance with their function. The system thus ensures that the information reaches the right places via the appropriate channels.
Central data storage ensures that all points of sale have access to the required documents and can, where necessary, edit these together. Here, different accounts define who has authorisation for which documents. If, for instance, a new promotion is being held at k kiosk, the relevant labels, posters or advertisements can be released via this storage system for all points of sale or specifically for the affected points of sale. Conversely, it has become easier for the points of sale to find the information that they require. The “POS library” is structured according to topics and has a search function that allows for the desired information to be found quickly.
Each point of sale has an e-mail address for unstructured communication. For example, this e-mail address can be used by points of sale to coordinate investigations with external suppliers. There is also a chat function that points of sale can use to exchange information on other topics. While previously a telephone conversation between individual points of sale was necessary for the shifting of goods, it is now possible to reach all desired points of sale at the same time via the chat function.
“The kiosk of the future”
VAPOS.info standardises Valora Group sales processes across the various sales formats and thus simplifies the work of employees. Following a six-month test phase, Valora therefore rolled out VAPOS.info at its more than 1,000 Swiss retail outlets in 2017. Operations from the cloud and the high level of availability simplify the installation process. Within just a short space of time, hundreds of branches were newly connected via plug and play. In addition to further developments, Valora is planning to further expand VAPOS.info and to roll it out internationally.
“VAPOS.info is a streamlined and focussed platform that makes our business processes more efficient and more effective. The kiosk in the cloud is the kiosk of the future.”
Roberto Fedele, CIO of the Valora Group