Q&A: Lawry Freeman, Director and Chief Operating Officer, WonderLane
WonderLane help global retailers to connect and deliver exceptional customer experiences in store and online through intelligent, fit for purpose technology.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I am one of the Founding Directors for WonderLane, a retail solutions business about to hit their 10th birthday. I started my career working with complex IT and infrastructure projects, then spent at least the last 25 years working specifically in the retail and grocery sector. I’ve had the opportunity to work across software development, architecting, designing, building, and implementing enterprise systems. This experience really broadened my outlook on what and how retailers need to functional and operate successfully.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
WonderLane are a retail applications provider based in the UK with customers across 14 countries. We help global retailers to connect and deliver exceptional customer experiences in store and online through intelligent, fit for purpose technology. Through engineering excellence, WonderLane deliver total retail solutions to improve customer experience, speed up processes and deliver cost savings within a single platform.
We’re best known for our transactional POS platform and payment solution SureCanPay. We also provide the “back office” applications such as inventory management, a Click & Collect solution (includes self-checkout and BOPIS), a Price, product, and promotions engine and then the all important KPI Reporting tool.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
We’re widely respected for our engineering excellence. Unlike many of the large incumbent technology partners and point solution providers, WonderLane provide an agile hands-on solution that fits and works. At heart, WonderLane are problem solvers and experienced technical engineers who really understand retail.
What advantage does it add?
We get the complexities of retail so when we’re architecting solutions, we’re one step ahead, this really saves retailers time and money. We’ve also built our solutions into a cloud ready suite so it’s flexible and easy to roll out. This modular approach fits well with retailers who need faster time to value and the ability to evolve at pace. During Covid-19 this was really apparent, retailers needed to adapt and fast.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
The flexibility of the WonderLane platform and its ability to enable the easy integration of third-party products is especially appealing to retailers. Working as partners, we of course have our retail suite, but we also have deep technical know-how which helps us to digitise technology in a way that really fits to our customer’s needs. The modular approach reduces the amount of time to get up and running and then the in-house expertise helps glue together all the sophistication of each customer need. As a result, we’re able to build solutions that just work, and work well.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
We’ve been working with East of England Co-op to both their customer and employee experience through digitising their store operations. Covid-19 prompted a rapid roll-out. Firstly, we the implemented the WonderLane payments solution SureCanPay. Secondly, we rolled out a self-checkout (SCO) solution powered by our POS software.
It has created lots of value in-store already with in-store employees able to work in a more customer-focused way with a greater service culture since as much as 35% of eligible spend now going through SCO devices. Co-op were able to respond to the changing needs of customers during lockdown from a health and safety AND a customer experience perspective. You can read more about the Co-op case study here.
Are there other companies you partner with?
We have a strategic partnership with Trust Systems who are our deployment and managed services arm. Trust Systems are a provider of digital, mobile and cloud technology, consultancy, and services.
All our technology operates on Android and we think that’s really important. We are working with a lot of retailers who are very tired of having to constantly patch their Microsoft operating systems as part of PCI regulations. With android, that problem goes away and it’s flexible and commercially, way more cost effective. We partner with HP and Datalogic who both provide hardware solutions for android POS and instore solutions.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2021 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2020?
Physical retail stores have really taken a bashing over the last 18 months – it’s been tough. Retail is evolving and we believe that is truer today than ever before. The store is still core to retailing. Stores provide incredible value not just from an economic perspective but as a rout to thriving social cohesion and a sense of community.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
What this means for a retailer is that now more than ever, customer experience is a critical differentiator. We’ve built our POS platform with this in mind, bringing it front and centre to every interaction with a customer. A modern POS is all about connections and not simply transactions. You can read our blog about this here.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We’re really focused on a seamless checkout experience. To maximise the value from these various elements of the transformed checkout there needs to be a tech enablement piece. This can best be described as the hub where all the POS-related information is available: the central view of customers, stock, and transactions. The POS should be configured as a single connected hub not only for transactional information but also data related to inventory, pricing, promotions, click & collect, BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in-store), delivery, and reporting. It is a single version of the truth, in one place, in real-time. We’ve put together an eBook on Checkout Transformation here.
Any final thoughts?
To find out more, visit www.wonderlane.co.uk