Smart Retail Transformation: Union Coop Implements 15 New Projects
Prepared By: Benoi Nair
The new projects include ‘WhatsApp for Business’ service, the first ever ‘VR Store’ and going paperless in many aspects
Retail firm ‘Union Coop’ through its Information Technology dept. implemented 15 major smart and commercial projects to support its digitization efforts and to stay ahead of the latest trends in the field of the digital retail sector. The recent upgrades are in line with the global growth of digital technologies deployed for smart shopping and electronic systems, all of which assisted the cooperative in increasing efficiency, and competitiveness while offering the highest level of consumer satisfaction and happiness.
Revealing further details, Mr. Aiman Othman, IT Dept. Director, Union Coop said that the IT department has successfully implemented 15 basic systems including the implementation of the second phase ‘upgrading’ of automated data collection – compatible with the Android operating system, upgrading the mobile scanning systems in all cooperative branches to issue purchase orders, receive goods and distribute and ship them for future sales.
The upgrades also covered aspects of periodic inventory management and movement, and fixed assets registration, in addition to updating more than 80 logistical and commercial operations, indicating the implementation of a project to transform the cooperative into a paperless institution through automated transactions. In addition to all the above, the first integrated online store experience Union Coop VR Shopping App (The Perfect Store) was launched in ‘Metaverse’ and further developed the e-commerce smart app by adding new features and improving the existing functionalities.
Moreover, he mentioned that Union Coop has offered a messaging platform through the ‘WhatsApp for Business’ app, specifically designed to send the latest promotions to cooperative consumers. The app offers several features that help consumers receive automated messages and swift responses to ‘frequently asked questions’ such as branch locations, working hours, current promotions and discounts, the “Tamayaz” loyalty program, and many other services, including the provision of a feature that allows sending messages to customers using end-to-end encryption technology, ensuring that messages remain private and secure.
He added that among the implemented projects is also the provision of ‘Free Wi-Fi’ to shoppers in the cooperative branches and that the service has been covered so far in 17 of its branches, and work is underway to cover all branches, and the implementation of a project to monitor the temperature of refrigerators through the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, and the implementation of an advertising screen management system In commercial centers and branches in 13 locations, work is underway to complete the rest of the locations during the current year.
He explained that the IT Department is currently working on projects related to information security to protect its electronic and smart systems and make them more secure through continuous auditing of systems databases, implementation of business continuity and disaster recovery plan, and continuous upgrade of communication devices and software for information security, indicating that the cooperative has upgraded many of the devices and equipment of the main data center to save and protect data, by installing more than 700 computers, while leaving unlimited space and capacity for expansion.
He pointed out that the cooperative is staying ahead of digital developments in the world of retail trade, as it has developed the online supplier registration system, which is a platform on the Internet that allows suppliers to interact with Union Coop and register their companies according to the regulations, procedures and requirements followed in the cooperative, pointing to the supplier platform system project (Supplier Collaboration), which helps to facilitate business management between the supplier and the Union Coop team, in addition to the artificial intelligence project in the fields of trade, sale and purchase, which is in line with the cooperative’s aspirations to utilize all aspects of technology for institutional development and customer service. Among the most important applications that have been developed and implemented within the cooperative using artificial intelligence is analyzing the purchasing behavior of customers, developing a strategy for target groups, forecasting annual sales and budget for branches, and issuing warehouse orders automatically.
The IT Department has also worked on adding a “QR Code” that appears on all ‘Point Of Sale’ devices during each purchase, which allows shoppers to scan the code using their smartphone(s) to obtain the receipt electronically without the need to print it.