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The origins of the term “master of all he surveys” are not clear but it can now surely be applied to the likes of Retail Food Group’s CEO, Tony Alford. Indeed, as Alford presides over the deployment of point-of-sale software suite xchangexec across RFG’s thousand-plus food outlets, he must be feeling like a commander-in-chief. 


Xchangexec, developed by Sydney-based Task Retail Technology, is surely the first POS system that gives a true – and highly detailed – view of any enterprise’s entire retail operation.  And more than that, it does it all in real time.


As well as offering a better customer experience (more on that later), xchangexec is giving RFG full and immediate visibility of any outlet’s – or the whole store network’s – performance.


Roll-out at the group’s Michel’s Patisserie franchise is already half-way there and advancing at a steady clip of 20 stores a week.  The franchisor’s other three brands (Donut King, Brumby’s Bakery and bb’s café) are next in line.  Foodco Group is also deploying the system across its 220-strong network of Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break franchises.


Xchangexec’s tentacle-like reach into every nook and cranny of a retail business has to be seen to be believed.  Every POS terminal, every sales clerk, every peripheral, every sale – nothing seems to escape the all-seeing eye of xchangexec.


“Xchangexec connects head office directly to every POS terminal and peripheral in every store – even if there are thousands of them spread across the globe,” says Kym Houden, Task Retail Technology’s Managing Director. And it’s that direct internet-based connection that gives xchangexec its real-time power. “Xchangexec will alert you if a particular sales clerk is actually offering your customers that 2-for-1 combo deal when they should be and what proportion of offers are being taken up,” says Houden.  


“And you’ll know if your sales team is meeting its hourly targets – every hour if you want.” It will also tell you which clerks are leaving the cash drawer open or ringing up ‘no sales’, the most common indicators of till theft.


Security alerts, sales data and other real-time reports can all be delivered by SMS to that most ubiquitous communication tool on the planet, the mobile phone.


And with Australians among the world’s most avid mobile phone users (there are now more mobiles in Australia than people) Task Retail has made sure to offer the benefits of SMS to consumers too, in the shape of queue-busting food ordering.


To sign up to text ordering, a consumer enrols in the brand’s loyalty scheme (which is integrated in and managed by xchangexec), makes a pre-payment to put his account in credit and selects his favourite outlet – for example the one he passes on the way to work each morning. The consumer texts his order (for example, “1 lrg flt wht, 1 choc mufn”) to the dedicated ordering number.  Xchangexec identifies the consumer’s phone number and delivers the order to the selected outlet’s POS terminal.


Because the POS system can see everything (including the kitchen’s order queue) it immediately calculates when the order should be ready, texts the consumer back with the cost of the order and debits the amount from the loyalty scheme’s balance.


SMS food ordering is likely to be big business in Australia because if there’s one thing that matches our love of mobile phones, it’s our hatred of queuing.  In 2007, NCR commissioned global research1 that found Australians were among the world’s worst queuers, with 81% saying they were getting less patient about waiting in line (a whisker behind the French at 83%).


More than a third of those surveyed (36 percent) named retail environments among the top queuing hell-holes, and 73 percent said they had left a store because they couldn’t wait any longer to be served.


New York-based SMS company gomobo claims the value of fast food text orders are, on average, 24 percent higher than those placed in-store.


But you don’t have to be a thumb-twitching texter to enjoy xchangexec’s new retail experience; you can see the difference if you order in-store too.  RFG’s Tony Alford says, “The integrated loyalty program capability means RFG’s customers can enjoy and maximise value benefits from tailor-made promotions and coupons that are delivered directly to the customer at the point of sale.” These in-store promotions are delivered on counter-height, customer-facing screens and backed-up by the sales clerk’s software-prompted verbal offer and a customised ‘bounce-back’ coupon to encourage a repeat visit.


Add the smell of coffee and freshly-baked pastries and consumers will surely find it hard to resist this promotional attack on the senses. “From a business perspective, dynamic marketing and customised product offerings increase up-sell and cross promotional opportunities at the point of sale,” says Alford of the software’s capabilities.


Ross Checkley, Managing Director at NCR, whose RealPOS terminals Task Retail has specified as the hardware platform, is evangelistic about the software’s capabilities.  “Xchangexec is one of those pieces of technology that just makes you go ‘Wow!’.  Like Apple’s iPhone and Google Earth, it strikes you as genuinely ahead of its time.” Checkley may be biased but xchangexec is earning plaudits elsewhere too.  In May, the suite was a winner of the Consensus Software Awards 2008, which recognises innovation and excellence in the Australasian software industry.


And as recently as 11th July, the 2008 Dell Small Business Excellence Award announced that Task Retail was one of its ten finalists.


But it is Task Retail’s customers whose verdict really matters.  Customers like Steve Stubbs, Commercial Manager at Sydney Turf Club, which sees plenty winners and losers on its two Sydney race courses.


“At last, xchangexec gives us everything we want from a point of sale system,” says Stubbs.  Deployment across 110 POS terminals at STC’s Rosehill Gardens race course has gone so well, he says, that he is now eager to install it at the Canterbury Park track when major construction work is complete.  


“Across our food and beverage outlets, it maximises sales, increases efficiencies, reduces waste and improves the customer experience,” says Stubbs.  “Xchangexec has turned our POS system from a cost centre into a profit centre.  


And that sounds like winning odds in anyone’s language.  


The Impact of ‘Queue Frustration’ on Australian Consumer Behaviour, NCR Corporation, 2007.


Learn more about Australian Retailers Association >>


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© Task Retail Technology Pty. Ltd. 2012
© Task Retail Technology Pty. Ltd. 2012