Digital Retail Apps: Mobility Solutions with Shopper-first Orientation
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Digital Retail Apps: Mobility Solutions with Shopper-first Orientation

CIO VendorWendy MacKinnon Keith, Founder & CEO The retail landscape today is keeping pace with a disruptive environment by actively adopting cloud-based mobility solutions. These holistic retail mobility solutions are a welcome respite from siloed applications that prolong in-store retailing processes such as POS and kiosk support, purchase verification, and payment processing. However, there's a catch: Retail has a long history of an installed base of legacy systems built for locally stored data, catering to fixed location retail. The real test for the retailers today lies in collating their disparate retailing systems under one umbrella and extending services directly to a shopper’s mobile device. Retailers wishing to create frictionless shopping experiences—from scanning items to building a cart, making purchases and paying in-app using an Android device or an iPhone—need solutions that communicate with the product database, POS systems, payments processor, and a myriad of other retail system modules. “While the shopping process is deceptively simple, the back-end routing and management of information is highly complex,” enunciates Wendy MacKinnon Keith, CEO and Founder, Digital Retail Apps.

Founded in the world class city of Toronto, Digital Retail Apps (DRA) comprehended the goals and pain points of retailers to create a retail management system that unleashes the immense potential offered by the shoppers’ mobile devices. Starting with this shopper first orientation, DRA focused on developing an in-store, in-app shopping and payment-processing solution that links to a retailers’ existing system and integrates with the back end to create the most seamless in-store checkout flow. Over the years, the firm has built enduring partnerships with the industry leaders in payments, POS, integration solutions, and hardware to solve the toughest challenges faced by retailers in the mobility sphere. “What we do is put the power directly in the hands of shoppers to provide a huge improvement over the traditional in-store checkout process by enabling a seamless mobile self-checkout solution that eliminates lines,” informs Wendy.

Enabling In-store Shop and Pay Functions

With customers waiting in line to pay for their purchases at a fixed checkout station or kiosk, the process can be cumbersome and time-consuming for the checkout staff as well. This is where DRA’ flagship mobile solution, SelfPay kicks in to enable the shoppers to shop and pay from anywhere in-store, directly in-app on their mobile device and skip the checkout line. With capabilities to integrate directly with a retailer’s own app via the SelfPay SDK a retailer retains its own POS and payments processing back end. Cloud-based SelfPay offers access to a patented purchase/receipt verification component that ensures all items have been paid for before a shopper exits the store.

As a sailor, you work well as a harmonious team, with each person doing their individual function perfectly but in sync with each other


A subsidiary built-in systems security feature allows for vaulting, encrypting, and tokenizing of payment data via trusted payment partners—Beanstream, Stripe, and PayPal. SelfPay also integrates seamlessly with enterprise-grade POS systems enabled by DRA’s middleware partners. DRA’s partnerships allow them to deploy faster and leverage their leading technologies to make app-based payments a reality for in-store shopping. In case a retail customer prefers to keep all their systems in-house, DRA works directly with their IT team or any other third party systems integrator to connect SelfPay directly to the backend POS and ERP systems. “Some competitors force massive changes to the back end and often require a whole new POS system and specific payment processors,” extols Wendy. “We don’t do that as we work with existing players and systems instead of working to take their business away.”

Mobile Purchase Verification for Loss Prevention

Validating a purchase made in-aisle on a shopper’s device is critical to any app-based shopper-led payments solution. DRA’s SelfPay Staff solution is available along with SelfPay as well as a stand-alone solution, providing retailers with a simple associate-facing app that captures the shoppers’ mobile receipt data to validate a purchase. The solution bolsters a store’s loss prevention initiative by providing in-store associates access to a shopper’s digital receipt on a mobile device thereby enabling quick bag-checks to ensure that the products have been paid for before the customer exits the store. “Without SelfPay Staff it wouldn’t be feasible to effectively offer shopper self-checkout on a mobile device with in-app payment unless the retailer and shopper were confident about the purchase and payment being valid,” points out Wendy.

With a penchant for delivering innovative solutions, DRA’s culture is defined by a constant desire to improve the in-store shopper experience that gives retailers and shoppers peace of mind with respect to the validity of their in-store; in-app transactions. Applying new methods to purchase verification— that would make payments more seamless and secure—DRA already owns 2 patents along with others in the works. The company offers a license of their purchase verification technology direct to merchants and partners.

Implementing SelfPay helps retailers earn a staggering ROI in the form of improved cart sizes, enhanced loyalty, and better deployed in-store staff. In one instance, Lux Beauty Boutique, one of DRA’s beta retailers, incorporated SelfPay into their retailing system.
SelfPay helped the boutique capture up to 13 percent of in-store transactions while boosting the basket size up to 17 percent on busy days with long lineups and checkout wait times.Having impacted the boutique’s overall sales performance along with a significant rise in labor cost savings, DRA helped the client achieve cost savings to the tune of 42 percent within a short time span. “Retailers are well aware of this value proposition and some are now building their own mobile shop and payment solutions, and this has prompted us to offer a licensing option to our stand alone receipt verification component SelfPay Staff,” informs Wendy.

Additionally, the company has earned a patent on their system that facilitates secure self-payment transactions of retail goods. The SelfPay Verify license will allow third parties to integrate the proprietary verification technology with an in-market solution without the need for working on deployment from scratch. Retailers can also opt to pilot SelfPay at their stores by getting listed in the multi-retailer SelfPay app and through a SelfPay Staff license.

Creating SDKs for Self-checkout

Approaching the market from an end-user’s perspective, DRA offers an SDK toolkit to allow merchants to plug in SelfPay and SelfPay Staff functionality into their own app. Retailers who already have many of the required ingredients for in-store app-based payments such as item scanning, product details, and a wallet function, can leverage these pre-built capabilities and add in the SDKs to fill in the gaps. SelfPay SDK enables any retailer to incorporate a shopper-facing mobile self-checkout capability in their existing applications. The shift to EMV for payment processing has only worsened the lines at the checkout counters as the process is often time-consuming, being deployed inconsistently across the retail stores. In one day the same shopper may swipe and sign at one place, tap at another, dip at a fourth and sign and dip at a fifth and add a PIN, which adds to the complexity. “We have long predicted a shift from swipe to dip to tap to app for payments in-store,” ideates Wendy

"While the shopping process is deceptively simple, the back-end routing and management of information is highly complex"

Appreciating Collective Intelligence

DRA’s partnership-based approach has allowed them to seek advice and feedback from their customers on a regular basis. DRA attributes their competitiveness to a small but powerful team that adds value to the solution-building and decision making processes. “As a sailor, you work well as a harmonious team, with each person doing their individual function perfectly but in sync with each other,” enthuses Wendy. “This adds to available resources which we can throw at any task, helping each individual fathom the complexities of deployment, or marketing, or the back end.” The folks at DRA fathom where the retail mobility market is heading for, as they relentlessly pursue their agenda of working together with multiple systems, components, and partners to deliver win-win solutions to retailers and shoppers alike.