Storytelling at the Shelf-Edge: iRexM3, Gift Universe and MenKind

Retail is hard – physically demanding, unpredictable and fiercely competitive. Customers continually expect more, and the phone in their pocket is increasingly a tool to shift a unique shopping experience lives both online and out in the real world.

Retail is also undergoing fundamental change, with spectacular winners and some big-name losers. Those retailers wanting to survive know that they have to invest in retail technology. This means software: and new software drives new ways of working, from the board level all the way down to the shop floor.

In August, Gift Universe (owner of retail brands Menkind and Red5) started their roll-out of the iRexM3 pricing system into the first of 20 stores to deliver enhanced ticketing.

The company operates at the cutting edge of fast-moving retail, both in terms of the products it sells (often bang-on trend products where the window of opportunity to make sales is short) and also in terms of physical retail space: moving fast to grab short-term pop-up and seasonal opportunities.

iRexM3 grew out of solving real-world retail problems – from the sales people in store, through Ops and IT right up to board level. We believe retail tech must deliver value from day one. That’s why we partner with companies like Epson to allow companies to move quickly and deploy pilots (often to single stores).

But we also believe in show don’t tell. So a few week ago, we spent a day on the shop floor with assistant manager Mel and her team at MenKind, in Friar’s Square, Aylesbury.

MenKind competes in one of the most challenging retail environments: on-trend gifts and the latest gadgets.

Step into a Menkind store and you step into a world of drones, wireless toys, novelty gifts, and electronic devices you never even thought existed outside the Googleplex.

On-trend means on the shelf – no monkeying around…

MenKind move fast – they have to deal with huge swings in seasonal demand, they launch pop-up stores, they track trends obsessively and have to be able to merchandise and switch product lines quickly. All whilst providing a customer experience (CX) as exciting and dynamic as their products.

The iRexM3 system Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) supports an ecosystem of product and brand data, and the widest possible media at the shelf-edge (from tickets and POS, to ESLs and digital screens). MenKind are currently rolling out the ticketing module – but they are currently beginning the deployment of digital screens. They will also be ready for any other devices in the future (and when we say any, we mean any)

We want you to look at the tickets. Obvs. But we want customers to look at the jellyfish. Which are seriously cool.

It really is that simple – our guiding principle is appropriate technology – don’t spend a fortune on ESLs when an effective ticket is quick and easy to deploy. But make sure you are ready for whatever technology is coming down the line.

We are firm believers in beautiful, effective tickets that powerfully communicate your precious “reasons to buy” at the shelf-edge. Tickets from iRexM3 are generated immediately in-store whenever new products appear downstream in the supply chain – or whenever anything changes (prices, offers, specs). Endlessly customisable, MenKind have appreciated having a variety of sizes to match the most effective merchandising solutions.

And tickets can tell different stories…so if you can pull your eyes away from the jellyfish, let us tell you the story of how tickets ‘tell the story’ and give the customer their reason to buy now

That product is fresh into the supply chain. Brand data arrived just this morning at HQ. It’s waiting in-store along with the products themselves.

      

There will be a variety of tickets printed, depending on the updates and the different shelf-edge requirements. One click, and it’s done.

Thinks: I gotta get me some of that jellyfish action…and that’s a nice, discrete, classy ticket

Those small tickets? Discrete, classy, provides everything the customer needs to make an initial price-point decision in those critical few feet of premium retail space. But then other objections might surface, and there might not be staff member around during busy times…

Let’s just make that a wee bit clearer for you…

Customers expect free home delivery when shopping online – suddenly those benefits are available if needed in-store. Other information also comes into view (potentially an offer). Result: same message, all channels, and the best of both (on and offline) worlds.

MenKind take advantage of feefo – a review platform that has a high trust rating, based on genuine user feedback from many different retailers.

We’d just like to point out that we’ve never actually driven a Lamborghini Reventón…

And unlike their previous (pre-M3) tickets in black and white (which struggled to stand out – see left) they now look like the kind of 5-star reviews which customers increasingly expect to see, no matter the retail platform or store.

It’s another compelling reason to want to buy: ‘social proof’.

Following the initial deployments earlier in the Summer (as we write, iRexM3 has been rolled out to the entire estate) we were keen to learn what positive impacts the system has had on day-to-day operations and merchandise performance – as well as suggestions of where we can improve.

(We believe in something called ‘evidence-based ROI’. Everyone selling retail tech bangs on about ROI – we like to have our clients prove it out)

iRexM3 is not about providing just another piece of software. It’s about making retailers more effective – and future-proofing against changes coming down the line, driven by ever more demanding consumers.

Where previously products were priced individually (and there might be a delay in getting new product information onto the system) now any stock arriving already has its ticket ready to go. This saves significant time first thing in the morning – and allows employees to get out on the floor and do what they do best: helping customers.

But can we quantify this?

We had the opportunity to spend a day with Mel and her team to try to do just that.

And what do employees think? We rather put Mel on the spot (sorry Mel!) and decided to get her to open up about the experiences of using iRexM3, and what it gives her as a manager and a retailer:

The upshot? Time saved, faster merchandising, more trust, compliance and confidence on the shop floor. Quick to deploy, trial, feedback. More time to spend demonstrating and selling.

iRexM3 is now live in all stores. And as our long, hot Summer has (finally!) come to an end we get to the busiest time of the retail year.

For any retailer looking to get that cutting edge at the shelf edgeget in touch. Yes, training is needed on the system. Yes, there are changes to processes that need to be embedded.

But we are very confident of the benefits a deployment brings from day one – and you really can trial it in a single store. It’s like…mmm…we’re struggling for a metaphor here, perhaps we’ll let Gareth provide one for us…

Thanks to Mel, Gareth, the entire Aylesbury MenKind team. And because fundamentally we want our clients to suceed – and that means increasing sales – what better way than nudge you into finding out more about getting your hands on a Jellyfish Lamp or a Motion Control Drone.

Although personally, we think the in-store experience is vastly superior