Q1) What does the Store Sense solution offer at a broad functional level?

Store Sense is GrayMatter’s flagship product that accelerates store revenue by creating increased sales, heightened customer engagement, and enhanced staff productivity. Store Sense is an IoT device that is easy to deploy, manage and use. There is also a software version of this product. Store Sense integrates data from multiple sources like POS, boarding pass scanner, and passport scanner to enable sales data capture and provide insightful analytics. It also enables the push of relevant promotional messages to the smartphones of passengers. The device comes with:

Security & Integrity
  • 128 Bit AES data encryption
  • Anti-Temper and movement sensor
  • CRC for data integrity
  • Inbuilt battery back for any power failure
  • Inbuild SD card for offline transaction storage
  • Pass through output to printer with no delay
Monitoring & Management
  • Real time heartbeat and health check
  • Tempering notification
  • Remote firmware upgrade
  • LAN, Wi-Fi, 3G/4G
  • Boarding Pass and Passport Scanner
  • Mobile interface for data input

Store Sense has been deployed at Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) since 2018. BIAL is among the fastest-growing airports in the world. In 2019 it catered to 33.65 million passengers. The El Dorado International Airport serving Bogotá, Colombia, and its surrounding areas is also using Store Sense since 2019.

Q2) How does Store Sense address the concern of accurate financial submissions from the concessionaires to the Airport?

The monthly voluntary sales data submitted by the concessionaires are checked against the automated data generated by Store Sense to weed out any discrepancies in reporting. To ensure that there is no revenue leakage due to underreported sales, the following actions are taken.

The sales data of every concessionaire is tracked to ensure that it is submitted within a defined date. An email alert is automatically sent to the concessionaire whose data is missing.

Sales patterns are tracked to identify missing sales through a few parameters

  • Using a 60-day analysis of the sales data along with PAX data from the AODB (Airport Operational Database) system an hourly sales pattern is built to pinpoint any sudden dip in sales during any specific hours including peak PAX hours.
  • The POS system will generate sequential transaction numbers to identify any missing transaction if the sales report has no data from the tills or POS
  • All transactions have date and time stamp to easily identify the reason when no sales are posted from a till over a long period.
  • By comparing sales computed from EPOS transaction data with sales data submitted by the concessionaire, transactions with zero sale value are highlighted and notified
  • Product/Item master data is loaded in the data mart along with the sale price of every product. If a transaction data arrives with a new/ different selling price compared to the selling price in the master data, it will be highlighted and sent to the respective concessioner.

Q3) In your view should the airport tender for a complete solution that covers all requirements (Sales & transaction capture, contract management, category management, concession fee invoicing) or opt for a solution that involves integration into separate financial management systems?

We recommend a total solution. A unified system that is completely consistent and implemented in a short time frame and reduced cost, compared to building a discrete solution for every category of functional need. Such a system will address all the requirements of the commercial department, backed by proven domain and technical expertise, and come with a lower cost and speedy implementation. If, however, there already are existing systems for functional areas (e.g., contract & billing), integration with them is possible. However, such a product would cover contract management, income computation, and billing while invoicing and credit to accounts receivables will be done in the existing financial transactional system /ERP.

Highlighting the vital business benefits of Store Sense:
  • Automatic capture of the real time POS data in the concessionaire’s systems with minimal intrusion
  • Maintain and update contracts repository including linked contacts, conditions and business rules
  • Automatic computing of income based on revenue sharing rules and provisioning the computed income as input to billing system
  • Campaign management with configurable promotion rules -drive promotions through e-mail/ SMS – support redemption and financial settlement
  • Business Intelligence & Analytics enabled reporting, analysis, auditing & monitoring of concessionaire sales
  • Typical ETL connectors to major standard airport systems like AODB, Car Park, POS and interfaces with various excel and flat files. Self-service, pre-built, drill down, role based etc.

Q4) How long would it take for Store Sense to go live from the tender to implementation stage.

Based on our experience, the tender process would be three months and implementation four to six months. Our well-defined implementation methodology ensures high-quality implementation with optimal effort. GrayMatter strengths are strong program management, disciplined configuration management, knowledge management, quality control, and risk mitigation plans. All enabling us to deploy a complex product like Store Sense, seamlessly and quickly even if significant customizations are needed.

Q5) How will Store Sense implementation impact the routine functioning of the airport? According to you what is the best way to ensure a smooth implementation with minimal disruption to the business? How many resources should the Airport dedicate for implementation, from a finance and IT point of view?

From our experience there will be minimal impact on the routine functioning of the airport. However, the extent of adjustment needed during implementation is dependent on the following, besides the availability of infrastructure, VPN connectivity, security permissions, etc.

  • Data integration from POS and time needed for data load e.g., real-time integration versus daily data load. Data extraction time from POS would depend on the choice of the approach chosen. Be it, through e Sense IOT device or Software; UI-based uploads; transaction log feed from POS; Web services interface or Connector to centralized database.
  • The deployment mode – cloud or on-premise and extent of integration needed with existing systems. Greater the number of integrations with existing system, more the end-use involvement.
  • The number of POS machines involved and the linked testing effort.

Implementation of contract and billing module and BI and Analytics module of the product would need end-user involvement in a 2–3-day workshop and a week for User Acceptance Testing.

Q6) Can you throw some light on implementation cost, the annual cost of the license, maintenance, and support (for budget purposes only).

The commercials depend on the size of the Airport and the number of concessionaires having Tills / POS with real-time sales capture that need to be integrated. We also offer a subscription model, wherein the Airport pays a yearly fee in addition to a one-time setup cost, excluding training and onsite support costs. The cost for data collection depends on:

  • Real-time data integration – needed or not
  • The method of data integration
  • Number of POS machines

Q7) What according to you is the contract length for this project? Please justify

Based on our experience, we recommend a 5-year contract with an option to renew for an additional 24 months on completing 3 years. A minimum of three years is needed for the Airport to understand the TCO achieved. Also, stores don’t stay forever in the Airports, new stores keep replacing old ones and so it is important for the Airport to have complete control of the data from day 1 of a store. We bring in significant cost advantage by executing a major portion of the work offshore. Our strong domain knowledge and technical strength assure high-quality deliverables. Our production support team provides 24*7 support, governed by stringent response/ resolution SLAs.

Q8) How does the product help in avoiding obsolescence and scale to accommodate growth in the infrastructure and volume of passengers?

Store Sense is a truly scalable solution. The 5-year system sizing is done keeping in mind the growing volumes. The solution is built on the latest technology stack, making it future-proof. The

components in the system are adaptable to accommodate any disruptive technology shifts in the future, and our team is equipped to deal with any technology change. As a part of the product development lifecycle, we build a technology roadmap every six months based on market trends and customer preferences.

Q9) What according to you are the risks in the project? How to avoid any pitfalls?

Based on our experience, mentioned below are a few likely challenges rather than risks

  • Data collection: The choice of data extraction method – Store Sense HW/SW; Backend/Server integration; through API; through Web interface/push -mainly for stores that have no POS.
  • Contract with concessionaire not permitting data extraction: The success of the Store Sense to a large extent depends upon how the Airport convinces its partners to deploy the Store Sense for data capture. In some scenarios, the contract doesn’t allow the Airport to put anything at the POS. In such cases, airports need to wait for the contract to end and insert a clause where they can deploy solutions like Store Sense.
  • The flexibility of Contract rule management: In most cases, the concessionaire contract is very complex with no or limited uniformity with respect to multiple versions and how they are maintained. This results in Airport often making mistakes in properly computing the percentage against the product sales. The contracts need to be flexible enough, to be molded as per the Airport requirement.
  • Statutory compliances like GDPR: Data sharing from Store to the Servers in the EU and UK region should adhere to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules. Often airports ask about whether the Store Sense is GDPR compliant or not and the data is 100% encrypted to which the answer is Yes, Store Sense is GDPR compliant.

To circumvent such challenges, we recommend the following:

  • Ensure that the contract between concessionaires and airport operator permits data extraction
  • Connectivity to POS, AODB, 3rd party systems is available
  • The existing system has the ability to handle compliance like GDPR
  • Sufficient time is allocated for planning
  • Enable smooth co-ordination with other stakeholders, system owners
  • Ensure strong Program governance with identified project owners from the client and vendors end.

Q10) What needs to be done to ensure successful implementation of Store Sense?

From our experience, the following are the key drivers to ensure the successful implementation of Store Sense. We believe that the active involvement of the business users, support from IT and concessionaires are the key drivers for the project to be successful.

  • Proper coordination with the concessionaires and getting their buy-in
  • A comprehensive survey of various POS systems and clearly defining data extraction approach
  • Having clarity on financial data integration
  • Having a proper data validation, data storage, and approach plan
  • Creating a contingency Plan
  • Ensuring robust program management
  • Involving end-users from IT, commercial and finance functions in the project

Q11) What is the reliability of the underlying data quality on which Store Sense works?

Store Sense is powered by a robust data governance framework that drives stringent data quality checks. Master Data Management ensures the integrity of all dimensions of data in the system.

Q12) Does the system have the ability to enforce permissions/authorizations? Also, is there a password reset option?

Yes, the solution has the capabilities to enforce the following security and authorization rules:

  • Role and user-based access control
  • Features & functionality restrictions like read-only, data sharing through email, export to excel, etc.,
  • Report level restriction to control access to specified reports
  • Data level restriction

The system can reset the password if access is not through Single Sign On (SSO)