River Island, one of the UK’s leading high street fashion retailers, integrated Scandit Smart Data Capture into its employee-facing app on Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro rugged smartphones as part of the organisation’s innovative approach to Digital Transformation across its stores. Replacing single-use hardware-based scanning devices with Scandit, Samsung and Microsoft Teams, River Island was able to unlock new opportunities to uplift the customer experience, modernise workflows and connect store associates while significantly reducing total cost of ownership (TCO). Paul Cooper, Head of Technology at River Island, tells us more.
With over 60 years of fashion retailing experience, River Island is one of the most well-known brands on the UK high street. It prides itself on stylish affordable fashion and has over 300 stores across the UK as well as a large international e-commerce website.
The organisation wanted to modernise its store operations and evolve a strategy to ensure it continued to innovate. Specifically, one that could improve both the customer and employee experience through the use of technology.
River Island had been using single-use handheld devices for store operation tasks. Over time, these devices had become costly to purchase, maintain and were limited in their capabilities. Different tasks across the store required different devices, used primarily only proprietary software and did not offer a positive employee experience.
With one device being shared by up to four store associates, it limited the ability of store associates to respond to customer enquiries in a timely fashion or for them to communicate with each other and head office. This led to an environment which ultimately impacted store associate morale and degraded the customer experience.
River Island knew the importance of selecting the right solution especially for the scanning. Switching to a new solution with sub-optimal ergonomics and performance compared to what was used previously would have made it an uphill battle to win the hearts and minds of the store associates.
River Island recognised that it needed to look for a camera-based, software scanning solution, which ultimately led to changing its device class and allowing it to unlock new capabilities. This prompted a switch to Scandit Smart Data Capture on Samsung Galaxy XCover smartphones. The cost benefits of deploying smartphones compared to hardware-based scanning devices was so significant that River Island has equipped each store associate with their own device.
“This change has influenced a change in our corporate IT infrastructure that was previously never accessible,” said Paul Cooper, Head of Technology at River Island. “The opportunities this has unlocked have been really interesting and represented quite a paradigm shift for us in the use cases and experiences we can now enable.”
From an IT perspective, River Island is no longer tied into an enterprise device ecosystem including expensive support and bespoke peripherals. As well as having a huge impact on the overall TCO, it has allowed River Island to be far more flexible in its business approach.
Providing all store associates with their own Scandit-enabled Samsung Galaxy XCover rugged smartphones allows them to instantly access information to answer queries, retrieve product information, check stock availability and proactively retrieve Click and Collect packages as customers enter the store. It also enables the deployment of mobile Point-of-Sale (mPOS) to reduce customer queuing times by freeing up associates to serve them anywhere in the store.
Kerrie Toll, Store Leader at River Island Kings Lynn, said that the customer experience has improved significantly by switching from the old devices to Scandit-enabled Samsung rugged smartphones. Toll elaborates: “Previously, when the customer wanted to know the price of an item, we had to enter a password and wait for the device to scan the barcode which was slow while the customer waited. Now, I can literally tap the side of the Samsung smartphone and use the app to instantly scan the product. The difference is massive in terms of the amount of tasks we can do. It is seamless.”
Moving to Samsung Galaxy XCover smartphones and Microsoft Teams has also allowed River Island to consolidate devices by removing the need for separate radio headsets. Microsoft Teams, with its Walkie Talkie functionality, is supported with the built-in push to talk button on the Samsung devices. With one touch, associates can instantly and seamlessly communicate with each other and with the head office. It has also aided other aspects of the business from timesheets to rolling out new visual merchandising. Effectively conducting training and sharing company-wide announcements helps River Island improve engagement levels and supports a strong team culture and increase retention.
The organisation has been able to buck the trend of using what were deemed to be the most resilient of solutions and equip over 5,000 store associates with their own Scandit-enabled, Samsung smartphone, bringing multiple benefits.
Initially integrating Scandit Smart Data Capture into River Island’s IT ecosystem and workflows was seamless. “The documentation is good, the support has been fantastic and the willingness to engage on our journey with us to achieve our ambitions has been there throughout,” said Cooper. “From a technology perspective, it just worked.”
River Island rapidly rolled out the device deployment in just eight weeks and the Scandit software in a matter of days. Store associates were trained with a simple one-pager in advance despite the radical shift in infrastructure. The IT team’s ambition was that scanning was not an impediment in the hearts and minds of employees. In the new world, Cooper confirmed: “Scanning has been a non-event which has been a really big success.”
The change has driven a dynamic shift in store associate morale too. On store visits, Cooper said: “The tone of visits is dramatically different. Now it is amazing – everything is quick, the prices are correct and we can communicate with everyone individually. Fundamentally, the quality of life for our store associates has improved dramatically.”
In addition, store associate productivity has also increased. Dan Butcher, Flagship Store Leader at the Sheffield Meadowhall store says, “It is a great tool as it gives us that instant visibility of what the stores hold in terms of stock which allows the team to be agile and efficient from a customer service perspective. Equally, it tells us what we don’t have so the team doesn’t waste time looking for stock throughout the shop, but can immediately order it from the website instead.”
Looking ahead, River Island is excited about the future possibilities this technology platform has unlocked. The return on investment from hardware savings opens up opportunities that were not feasible before due to being locked into a long-term, restrictive device ecosystem. River Island also sees an opportunity as stores become more connected and the boundaries blur between the physical and digital. Cooper concluded: “The consumer will increasingly be wanting to use their own phone in-store which means if we want to drive them to product, it will need to be on a barcode basis and Scandit is at the heart of that.”Click below to share this article