Nordic tech company, Visma Retail, has packaged up its Visma Retail Suite Cloud software in order to help train companies improve their customer experience.

The Nordic solutions provider of retail ERP, back office and point of sale (POS) – which counts most of the biggest grocery Scandinavian retailers among its customers – is already serving Northern European rail companies but is eyeing opportunities in the UK, central Europe and further afield.

Visma Retail’s train retail software, which utilises the core technology used by its traditional customers, such as Norwegian grocer Norgesgruppen and Swedish food retailer ICA and COOP, allows train firms to operate a POS even when lacking an internet connection – a common challenge on railway journeys.

Visma Retail solutions architect Ola Wessman said the package has been designed to serve what is effectively “an extreme version of a pop-up store”. He told Essential Retail: “The train is only a store when it leaves the station and when it arrives at the station – it is a store for a very short period.”

He explained: “On a train the internet connection is often unreliable or very slow. The solution we have developed is independent of whether you are online or offline, the POS will still work, and as soon as it can reach the central server it downloads everything.”

As soon as the train has an internet connection again, the Visma Retail solution can provide an update of real-time stock replenishment information and sales data. This is achieved, by using the cable connected POS printer for receipts as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The receipt printer serves as a central hub for the solution, and can be connected to POS tablet devices in train bistros and the staff's Samsung 3G/4G smartphones in first class carriages. This allows the user to maintain a local network and run the solution both offline and online.

Visma Retail, which lists SAP, Dynamics AX, Wincor and LS Retail among its competitors, is essentially bringing some of the tech-led thinking innovative experienced on the high street into train carriages.

“Train companies that use a software solution dedicated for trains won’t get the same rich functionality that other retail segments are utilising, and this means reduced level of customer service compared with rail service companies that runs Visma Retail Suite,” noted Wessman.

“The main challenge for today’s retailers – and that includes train retailers – is they are sitting on old platforms that are not as flexible. The more pressing demands of modern consumers are forcing retailers to change the way they work.”

Visma Retail’s rail software provides possibility to create unique promotions for specific trains, and base campaigns and assortments depending on the train’s destination. Wessman said the solution he has designed also allows train companies to offer their loyalty members access to personalised promotions like a free coffee for VIP members.

“All European rail companies have the same problem as their peers operating in Scandinavia. They use out-of-date systems that can’t give customers a good retail sales experience. They can’t offer updated campaigns and they can’t give their customers an opportunity to pay by loyalty points because they have solutions not made for the train environment.”

Visma Retail aims to change that by offering a solution it says will reduce the administrative burden for its partners and automate many of the operational processes. The vendor’s IT is based on central satellite servers which negates the need for local servers in stores, be it on a train or on a high street.

“Visma Retail is experiencing significant interest from European retailers and the rail retail food service segment is one of our targeted areas, together with grocery, pharmacy and convenience.”

For more information: Visma Retail