Apple iPad, POS Retail Solution, Shopper Marketing

Apple’s iPad and other POS solutions playing a larger role in retailer’s bottom lines

With many retail forecasts predicting the demise of the cash register by the end of the year, more and more brick-and-mortar stores are deploying point-of-sale solutions to create an easier checkout experience.

Apple iPad, POS Retail Solution, Shopper Marketing

Many retailers cite Apple’s iPad specifically for its ease of use and shallow learning curve. According to an article on TabTimes, “Apple’s iPad is increasingly currying favor with retailers for its ability to work as a mobile and relatively affordable point-of-sale (POS) device. But now new figures suggest that the tablet is even helping merchants to attain bigger revenues.”

“With the iPad tipped to phase out of the cash register over the next year, it came to little surprise when iPad point-of-sale provider ShopKeep reported some strong sales figures from its clients recently.The firm said that its merchants experienced a 17% in total sales in January over the same store sales from a year earlier.”

JC Penney is deploying a POS solution of their own according to Retail Customer Experience:

“JCPenney spokesperson Kate Coultas in Plano, Texas, said the company began using the new system in August when they launched their in-store Levi’s shops.”

“Nearly everyone on the sales floor of the JCPenney store at Columbia Center mall in Washington state is now carrying one of the devices capable of completing sales from anywhere in the store, the article reported.”

Apple's iPad, the last great disruptor, shopper marketing

Could the iPad be Apple’s last great disruptive product?

Apple has been a disruptor in the technology world for nearly thirty years. From personal computers to tablets, Apple has been a driving force for change both from a technological and aesthetic perspective. Remember how innovative those iMacs were that came in a number of different colors back in 2000?

Apple's iPad, the last great disruptor, shopper marketing

Some would speculate that the iPad is Apple’s last great device to disrupt the industry. Others, including TabTimes, believe that it is slightly more complex than that.

From TabTimes:

“While Apple continues to deliver record sales and record profits, the financial community seems to think that Apple is done innovating and disrupting markets. Their demands for outlandish quarterly profits have sunk Apple’s stock over the last seven months and I have heard some even suggest that Apple has peaked and it’s downhill from here on in.”

“However, if you study Apple’s history, especially since Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997, Apple’s actual cycle of creating innovative and disruptive products is around three-to-four years on average. In the case of the time span from the iPod to the iPhone, it was actually 7 years.”

Benetton, Retail Localization, iPad, Inventory Management

Benetton’s megastore turns to iPads to help manage its extensive inventory of colorful fashion

Retailer Benetton’s largest store uses the iPad to photo and barcode every item it stocks to help sell fashion to customers more efficiently and track sales for inventory control.
Benetton, Retail Localization, iPad, Inventory Management

The Benetton team was tired of doing things the old way.

First, employees at the Vienna, Austria-based megastore took each and every piece of clothing from its hanger and scanned its data. Then they reached for a camera to photograph every product in every color. All of it had to be stored manually by employees on the company computer.

There had to be a better process.

Last year, Christian Glöck, Benetton’s IT system administrator, came up with one. “I knew the iPad was the right tool for the job and the main reason was the camera,” he told TabTimes. “We could use the camera to read the barcode (for inventory control) and photograph the clothes.”

Glöck initially considered writing his own program for the iPad, but then turned to software developers Zimmel + Partner with the outline of a process.

He designed a structure that would allow automated transfer of data to and from the store’s merchandised management system. And he wanted pictures to be uploaded and allocated to the clothing automatically without having to enter a serial number.

He conveyed these needs to the software designers. Their solution was a combination of the database app FileMaker Go for iPad and FileMaker Pro. “It was implemented within four days,” says Glöck.

Substantial savings

The IT systems administrator says that the cost savings have been substantial. The store (which, at 4,000 square meters of sales floor carries a lot of inventory) was paying professionals 60,000 Euros per season for all its photography work. The FileMaker solution cost Benetton 3,000 Euros per season. “That’s a savings of 57,000 Euros each season,” he said.

The new inventory control/sales help program started in the spring of 2011. Staffers take photos of each piece of fashion with iPads and scan its bar code, matching them to each other.

Each article could be in five colors. “It’s not so easy to remember,” said Glöck.

This two-tiered tracking systems enables the Benetton team to know what’s in stock, what has sold and move inventory at a quicker rate. The net result is a more precise snapshot of what’s available, where—and in what size and color.

 [via TabTimes]
iPad Point of Sale Tips, Retailers, Retail Localization

4 iPad POS Suggestions From Retailers

Tablets have invaded the homes of consumers–and Apple is the King of this generation of mobile computers. Since the iPad’s initial announcement in 2010, Apple has sold nearly 80 million iPads. The mobile computer’s next ring to dominate? Your local department store or collectibles shop.

iPad Point of Sale Tips, Retailers, Retail Localization

According to a survey from RIS News, 28 percent of retailers are currently testing tablets in their stores and 31 percent plan to begin some form of testing in 2012. There are a number of benefits that retailers can realize utilizing a mobile tablet at the point of sale (POS), such as shortening of the checkout line and providing instant product answers for customers’ questions.

Another survey from AisleBuyer found that 64 percent of shoppers thought retailers were more helpful when using a mobile device in the store aisles.

Michael Koploy, Retail Analyst for Software Advice, recently spoke with three retailers that have deployed iPad point of sale solutions in their stores. Koploy asked what they’ve learned throughout the process and what they would suggest to other retailers thinking about using iPads at checkout. Here are their four suggestions:

  1. Don’t purchase too many iPads up-front: One of the strongest selling points of iPads is the ease of their deployment and their scalability. That being said, retailers advised other retailers to purchase iPads modestly at first–making a one-for-one switch of registers for iPads. If more tablets are needed at a later date, the retailer can then purchase more iPads online or at most electronics stores.

  2. Upgrade Internet bandwidth and wireless security: When moving to mobile POS solutions, upgrading the store’s infrastructure is a worthwhile investment, according to the retailers interviewed. Increased bandwidth and improved security are two areas that retailers should research and update in their stores to reduce downtime and improve transaction security. Wireless routers should meet Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards, encrypted with either WPA or WPA2.

  3. Ask for help from resellers and MDM experts: The retailers also suggested reaching out to other technology experts for assistance with device deployment and management. Software resellers can help retailers connect the hardware and software solutions, as well as integrate data from previous or existing technology. Mobile device management (MDM) experts can help lock-down devices and integrate data across stores–an important consideration for retailers that have multiple locations.

  4. Utilize the iPad during checkout: The iPad is a fully-capable piece of hardware to manage the point of sale. At the same time, it offers a number of options for the retailer to improve checkout–and the overall shopping experience, as well. From the aisle, retailers can help customers research products, check inventory levels and process the transaction–without having to ever get in a long checkout line. Additionally, retailers can use the device’s camera, web browser, and social media applications to allow customers to share their experience with their friends and family. This presents a powerful marketing platform for the retailer.

To hear more tips from these retailers, check out: 5 iPad POS Tips For Retailers, From Retailers.

Sephora, iPads in stores, in-store media, retail localization

Sephora Makes Over Website, Adds iPads In Stores

San Francisco-based Sephora unveiled its social and mobile makeover, including a new personalized web experience, new mobile website, iPhone app and iOS devices in more than 100 stores. The beauty retailer has also integrated Pinterest to its site by adding “Pin It” buttons to every product and brand page.

Sephora, iPads in stores, in-store media, retail localization

“Digital is a must for the future of retailing,” said Julie Bornstein, senior vp, Sephora Direct. “With the social, digital, mobile and website updates, we’re giving our clients the most customizable experience in the beauty industry, and connecting clients with our experts in the ways that are most relevant to them. We’re excited to makeover the future of shopping.”

Each product on Sephora.com has been tagged and indexed with 25 different characteristics, including relevant data like target age group, specific ingredients, formulations, fragrance and price. The site also houses more product images and time-saving checkout. Shoppers can also use the website to check in-store availability.

The Pinterest “Pin It” button allows users to pin any of the 14,000 products from the Sephora website, as well as check out Sephora inspiration boards, highlighting current looks and new products.

As part of Sephora’s mobile focus, the retailer is also testing iPads in stores, with 20 locations outfitted with the Apple devices. Staff will also carry iPod Touch units to help clients find and research products through the Sephora app.

[via VMSD]

iRobot, Ava, iPad Tablet, In-Store Shopping, Shopper Marketing

iRobot to Wheel Out Ava, The Smart Robot With an iPad Brain That Combines Traditional In-Store & Online Shopping

iRobot, Ava, iPad Tablet, In-Store Shopping, Shopper Marketing

Is it too early to talk Christmas? I think not, because according to an article from the Boston Herald, robots might be roaming the mobbed malls of America alongside we humans to ensure that we are the smartest little consumers this side of the North Pole as early as next holiday season. Developed by Bedford based iRobot, Ava is a “multi-purpose robot that looks a little like a five-foot pole on wheels with an iPad, or other tablet computer, for a head,” according to the Herald article.

According to the Herald, the idea is to combine traditional in-store shopping with online shopping where you have the vast resources of the Internet to do as much research as you need on a product before making a purchase.

From the Herald:

“Brick and mortar stores have been at a disadvantage,” iRobot CEO Colin Angle told the Herald yesterday. “They haven’t figured out how to inform the customer at the shelf. People can touch and feel products, but they’re relying on their own judgment, without the judgment of others.”

According to iRobot’s website, Ava will have WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities as well as user interface options such as touch, voice, gesture and person-following.

For skeptics who question the necessity of a robot that follows you around in the mall that provides information on its iPad head – information you can likely find on the phone in your pocket, consider Ava’s other potential applications.

According to the iRobot site, Ava could “enable family and professional caregivers to deliver high quality care through virtual visits,” as well as “provide remote monitoring to ensure enterprise safety and security.”

The Herald reports that Ava will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars, but the cost should diminish over time (likely upon the release of Ava 2, the robot that just eats your Christmas list and does your shopping for you).

Ava will be able to independently navigate itself by building maps of its environment and according to iRobot’s site, it “detects and avoids people, objects and hazards such as stairs.”

Could you even imagine being halfway up an escalator and seeing a blind and dumb Ava barreling down at you? Yeah, it better be a good navigator.

I expected Robots to replace the salesmen and women of the world. Maybe they’ll replace the customers first.

[via BostInnovation]

Apple Store, Grand Central Station, Retail Localization

Grand Central’s Apple store will be open by Black Friday

Apple Store, Grand Central Station, Retail Localization

Manhattan’s getting close to having another "Big Apple."

The enormous Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal is set to open in time for Black Friday, and could possibly open sooner, a source told 9to5mac.com.

The store, Apple’s fifth in Manhattan, will be one of the company’s biggest in the world, taking up some 23,000 square feet in the highly trafficked terminal. (Up to 700,000 commuters trek through every day.) The deal was finalized this summer.

Apple — which certainly has no shortage of cash — will pay about $1.1 million in the first year of its 10-year lease, with the rent increasing every year. The deal was first announced this summer, with construction estimated to take 120 days — putting a November opening date right around schedule.

Apple’s not the only new tenant for GCT. Everyone’s favorite stand-in-line-for-an-hour burger joint Shake Shack is also moving in. Its lease, which also runs 10 years and increases yearly, starts out at $435,000 plus a share of profits.

The MTA declined to comment. Apple didn’t return calls.

[via AM New York]

iPads in-store media shopper marketing

Sears puts iPads in shopper hands to enhance in-store shopping

iPads in-store media shopper marketing

Sears Holdings Corp. is rolling out iPads and iPod touch devices to almost 450 Sears and Kmart stores around the country as it continues to look for ways to bridge digital and in-store shopping.

Associates will be able to use the devices to help customers check available inventory, order products online and access product information and videos. At the same time, Sears said it will offer free Wi-Fi at various locations so customers can use their smartphones to surf the Web, shop at Sears.com and compare prices.

“We wanted to enhance the relationship between customers and associates and improve the overall shopping experience,” said Kimberly Freely, spokeswoman for Sears, Chicago.

“We wanted to make it a more personal experience,” she said. “It is part of our strategy to become more of an integrated retailer and combining the digital and retail formats within the company.”

Other retailers to follow
The devices will enable shoppers to check product reviews online, compare prices and see a larger assortment of products than is available in the stores.

The IT group for Sears is upgrading the entire network and technology infrastructures, including enhancing wireless coverage, to provide customers with free Wi-Fi access.

Sears plans to add new applications and features to the devices throughout the year to make shopping easier and more exciting for its customers as they plan their holiday shopping.

Large retailers such as Sears, and recently Lowe’s, have been embracing mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets for in-store use.

However, the appeal of mobile devices for in-store use is much broader.

“Even smaller retailers, local retailers, can use these devices to improve customer service,” said Joy Liuzzo, senior director of mobile research at InsightExpress, Stamford, CT. “Tablets provide the untethered nature of mobile with a richer experience than computers – a powerful mix in any environment, large or small.”

Ms. Liuzzo expects more retailers will incorporate this technology in the near future.

“These devices will allow floor sales people to engage with customers right where they are standing, sharing the screen rather than having a monitor in between them,” Ms. Liuzzo said. “It’s another way to break down barriers and make the sales process better for everyone involved.”

For Sears, the strategy of providing in-store mobile devices and better Wi-Fi access is giving the retailer a way to enhance the relationship between customers and associates and create a more personalized shopping experience.

“We’re already one of the best in class mobile markets, in that our stores are uniquely linked between mobile commerce and bricks and mortar,” Sears’ Ms. Freely said.

“Shoppers can already order online and pick up at store through their mobile devices,” she said. “Most shoppers have limited reception in malls so now they can come into the stores and order directly.”

[via Mobile Marketer]