Despite the economic headwind, Valk Solutions was able to close the calendar year on a positive note. Valk Solutions’ customers have jointly realised a record sales turnover of 4.2 billion euros on the unified commerce platform ASPOS. In addition to online growth, the Montfoort company saw volumes grow again, especially in the shops. The private cloud platform has proven remarkably robust even on the busiest days before Christmas. In this annual report, founder-owner Robert Valk and managing director Karin Valk report on their highs and lows.
Karin kicks off: “This year, again, we had to say goodbye to entrepreneurs who had to close their businesses. Fortunately, we were able to more than compensate for this loss. Success formulas such as Primera, Hubo, Wibra and Welkoop opened new stores, but hundreds of new customers also stepped in. This is how AKO joined, including the shops behind customs at Schiphol. These AKO sales points are partly unmanned and work 100% with our self-service solutions. The paint shops of Voordeelmarkt and the cooking shops of Oldenhof have also been rolled out. Veritas has switched from Centric to the ASPOS cloud with 119 branches, complete with French-language user interfaces and support.”
Moving forward together
Consumers expect perfect service not only in stores but also online. The mix with online is essential for the continued existence of physical retail. The further development of same-day delivery and delivery from the shops also creates a new perspective. Robert explains: “The seamless integration of physical and online requires fundamentally different technology, so we see that retailers are phasing out their legacy IT more quickly to remain competitive. More and more retailers are taking advantage of the benefits of the open ASPOS cloud platform. Complex IT landscapes drastically simplify by phasing out stand-alone applications and custom interfaces. The ASPOS platform is open so that all data and services are available in real-time for third-party applications via the Rest API. We have further expanded the ASPOS Rest API to 450 services.”
Valk Solutions sees that customers are using more applications in the ASPOS suite step by step. This applies to the store domain and e-commerce and ERP functionality. For example, the renewed ASPOS PDA application is highly successful in increasing stock reliability and enabling omnichannel services. Under pressure from staff shortages, retailers opt for electronic shelf labels (ESL), integrated 100% real-time in ASPOS. The ASPOS Self Checkout (SCO) also proves to be a tool to save cashiers. One employee can oversee a square full of SCOs with the ASPOS monitoring app, complete with fraud controls and nix checks.
New webshop platform
In 2022, Valk Solutions invested in a new webshop platform based on Progressive Web App (PWA) technology. It goes without saying that the new webshop solution is mobile-optimized and integrated with the stores under one ASPOS data source. Bouwmaat, Ekoplaza, Voordeelmarkt and Beauty-X, among others, have already started using the new webshop. The new shops’ total integration of physical and online and high Google Lighthouse scores for speed and findability are characteristic of the new shops. Valk Solutions has a ready-made ASPOS plug-in available for customers with a Magento or Shopware webshop.
Formulas are diligently looking for an experience to attract customers to the stores more often and to keep them in the store longer. Valk Solutions is responding to this with the new ASPOS Countr foodservice integration, complete with a Deliverect link to Thuisbezorgd, among others. Robert says: “Consumers can put together their favourite snack at the SCO and at the same time pay for the rest of the groceries. Consumers can use QR codes on their smartphones to place orders on the terrace, in the store, from the office or home. All orders arrive on the kitchen screen in real-time, and no more loose notes between the pans.”
The ASPOS mobile cash register app is a solution during peak times in the store to prevent queues at the counter. But also, to pay at the door for home deliveries in market stalls and pop-up stores. The mobile cash register is enriched with the latest pin-on-glass technology for ultimate flexibility. No pin device is needed anymore. The mobile cash register runs on an Android PDA with an NFC chip reader that consumers use to pay by simply holding their payment card or smartphone against the PDA screen. The ASPOS BI dashboard has been updated based on Qlik Sense. Qlik Sense is user responsive and ideal on mobile devices.
The combination of customer focus and technical knowledge is a scarce commodity. That is why Valk Solutions trains specialists in-house. Karin is personally committed to recruiting talent: “Ambitious young people with a retail background and an affinity with processes join us, learn the trade and move on. This way, we can fill our vacancies and offer people a long-term perspective. A transparent human resources model has been introduced by 2022 so that our people can take ownership of their career development. The passion of our teams is reflected in the hundreds of Google reviews with an average customer satisfaction of 9.8.”
Thanks to continuous further development and partnerships with customers, Valk Solutions faces the new year with confidence. It’s off to a good start with rollout projects at Electronic Partner, Handyman, MAUDD Fashion, Ter Horst van Geel, HBM Machines and Efteling. The sales pipeline is well-filled. A practical repair module is being developed to open up the electronics industry. Valk Solutions also invests in modernising the complex order management and supply chain functions in the ASPOS back office. Everything to assure customers of the best retail cloud solution in the market, now and in the future.
Would you like to know more?
In January, you can find Valk Solutions at Horecava (stand 01.231) in Amsterdam, and in February – March at EuroSHOP (stand 06.G67) in Düsseldorf. Here the latest innovations are demonstrated with a nice cup of coffee. Robert concludes: “Come by; you are very welcome.”
Montfoort, January 2023