Revel strikes at the intersection of clicks and bricks, pushing the idea that physical stores don't need to suffer from the rise of e-commerce.

By using some of the sales and performance analysis associated with e-commerce, Revel says the inherent advantage that stores have in connecting with consumers can be enhanced for the next generation of retail competition. The seven-year-old company has found a niche in that philosophy—the privately held Revel said it more than doubled revenue in 2016, with 158% growth, and expanded terminal placements by 137%.

In the hopes of maintaining that momentum, the San Francisco-based iPad point of sale maker recently added a data analytics app that tracks and ties payments to other business performance metrics.

"It seems obvious, but relationship management is a lot easier when business know their customers' face, preferences and provide a personalized experience," said Bobby Marhamat, chief operations officer for Revel. According to company research, people are five times more likely to develop brand loyalty when they shop in person rather than online.

Bobby Marhamat, chief operations officer for Revel
Bobby Marhamat, chief operations officer for Revel IMAGE: Revel

It's a trend being pushed not only by e-commerce but by the changing ways physical stores handle sales. Apple Stores are well-known for not only giving every sales associate a portable card reader to sell products on the floor, but also for identifying each shopper's Apple ID for emailing receipts and other purposes. More recently, the Amazon Go concept store showed that identifying the customer earlier in the process can eliminate the need for a face-to-face sale altogether.

"Point of sale systems should connect the business and consumer rather than assist a transaction," Marhamat said. "There’s huge potential in CRM for retail and I see point of sale as a crucial tool for businesses to take this next step."

Revel's information can determine what's selling and how, matched with resources. It's a capability that larger businesses and e-commerce uses, but is not as common among smaller businesses, according to Revel.

Online shopping provides convenience, but it's a difficult medium for providing unique experiences, according to Rick Oglesby, president of AZ Payments Group.

"That's where brick and mortar stores have a great advantage," Oglesby said. "As consumer preferences continue to evolve, there will be more pressure on location-based merchants to provide compelling reasons for coming into stores rather than just ordering online and just using location-based businesses as fulfillment centers. Knowing customers well enough to do that will be a critical enabler."

Consumer expectations are changing — their experience needs to be seamless, quick, and personalized, Marhamat said. "Businesses are getting savvy and utilizing customer data to better understand customer behavior," he said. "By understanding the customer on a deeper level, this allows for an intelligent business strategy."

Finding new uses for data, such as analytics and machine learning, have become an important part of retailers' attempts to improve connections with consumers and manage resources more accurately—leaving companies that don't embrace the concept at a disadvantage, according to Sean O'Dowd, a marketing expert at MapRTechnologies.

In addition to the data analytics app, Revel, which has also placed point of sale technology with larger retailers such as Shell, Smoothie King, Little Caesars, Legends, Dairy Queen, Popeye's and Forever Yogurt, has also added artificial intelligence to spot, anticipate and fix problems with point of sale systems, as well as perform remote technology updates faster.

"Big Data" is at the forefront of how businesses are creating lucrative and successful business models, Marhamat said, adding modeling and forecasting has become more refined and accurate process, producing insights that until now were largely unavailable and unaffordable for smaller businesses.

Revel is attempting to bridge this gap by bringing enterprise grade features to small to medium sized businesses, allowing them to have full control over their business, according to Marhamat.

"This type of business intelligence is what will help small to medium sized businesses build and maintain their dream business, while remaining one step ahead of their competitors," he said.

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