Retail hacks by Arricano: must-have innovations and IT challenges in managing the company's infrastructure

In his column for RAU, Oleksandr Nemer, Director of Arricano's IT department talks about the innovations that the company is implementing, reflects on how the lockdown affected new developments and what technological future awaits for offline retail. 

The adjective "safe" probably became the most used in 2020: people adhered to respiratory etiquette and social distance, switched to a remote format of work for the sake of their health and the health of their loved ones. Security has also become important in the digital space, only here, instead of viruses, cyber scammers try to find out information and gain access to the company's infrastructure. And instead of masks and antiseptics – coordinated actions of the IT department. 

This year, we are updating the Arricano corporate system and updating products to block phishing, which can be quite clever and disguised. Soon we will launch two-factor verification - a complex level of data protection that is already used by Google and Apple and which Ukrainian developers and retailers are beginning to consider. 

It is important for us to automate all services that are interconnected with each other, and "make friends" with them completely. Our root system is BAS ERP, which stores almost all the company's data and to which other services are linked: internal and external electronic document management, legal documentation, work with marketing departments, rental, operation and operational activities of the shopping mall. 

Here are some examples. 

With the Axdraft product, our legal department already automates most of the documents that were previously created manually. The essence of this service is that a template document is generated based on data previously uploaded to this system. Therefore, we standardized the contract we needed, prepared a table with the details of our tenants, and uploaded it to the portal. Now, every time you click the magic button, colleagues get a 99% ready contract. This decision was especially useful during the pandemic, when it was necessary to form many documents of the same type with additional agreements, taking into account different commercial conditions. 

Now we are studying the automation market to help the operations department manage assets, and the services that are responsible for the life of the shopping mall – to respond to requests in a timely manner. Our shopping malls have BMS that allow us to monitor the status of an object's operation. As a rule, the final responsible link in the chain in this system is our engineer, who controls the operating mode of the equipment and personally communicates with outsourcing services. Because of this, time is lost. Therefore, we strive to automate this process so that information that the chiller, for example, needs diagnostics, is sent directly to the service company.

Secondly, it is important to provide the maintenance service with convenient access to all documentation related to their work. So far, the system is divided: only contracts, invoices, certificates of equipment and work performed are stored in the accounting department, and some reports related to the operation of equipment are stored in the operation department. We try to combine these elements so that our ERP simultaneously accumulates contracts and records information from the original source with photos and reports, so that the head of the operational service, going to one point, can get acquainted with the full information. 

Due to periodic restrictions on access to shopping malls, IT companies were more interested in developing online trading services. However, offline platforms are also promising for introducing new technologies. VR and AR helped build relationships during lockdown: for customers who missed offline stores, it was an opportunity to see what a product looks like in real life, how it is placed in space. 

Now our IT department is focused on high-quality collection of turnover data, consolidated data management, which helps to form transparency of partnership with tenants and establish clear business agreements. To solve this problem, we test and examine the products that the market offers. 

An important role in the selection of programs is played by the experience of an IT company in the field of retail and a product with successfully solved cases. On the other hand, inventive, ambitious companies that experiment with new solutions practice simpler approaches to data acquisition. We also like to develop something new to find out how it will work and who can make life easier. However, solutions designed somehow in order to label them "innovation" as quickly as possible are doomed to failure. 

I am convinced that as soon as the lockdown is completed, IT companies will again be interested in offline retail, which means that they will offer new developments. I assume that we will talk about a video surveillance system, tracking the emotions and portrait of visitors, their identification and various targeting formats. These data may be relative, but they will demonstrate the dynamics of product categories and consumer behavior scenarios in the shopping mall. To continue providing high-quality customer experience service and increase traffic to Arricano shopping malls.