Magazine article CRM Magazine

Harnessing Technology to Improve the Retail Experience: Mobile, In-Store Screens, and Social Media Share Focus at NRFs Big Show

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Harnessing Technology to Improve the Retail Experience: Mobile, In-Store Screens, and Social Media Share Focus at NRFs Big Show

Article excerpt

In the age of the Selfridges and Marshall Fields a century ago, department stores were true innovators. Instead of keeping items behind counters, they let customers touch and engage with the merchandise, piped in air conditioning, and delighted with dazzling window displays and promotions. That same spirit of disruption in pursuit of delighting the customer was on display again this year at the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York in mid-January.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty contextualized the wave of technological changes breaking on retailers' shores. Not only is there big data--a much-used term that Rometty elevated by calling it "the next generation's natural resource"--but there are technological shifts happening everywhere, from mobile to cognitive processing (IBM's Watson) to social media to the Internet of Things. "If we had one [new technology], it would spark a new era, but we have multiples," she stated.

In some cases, retailers are being encouraged to catch up to consumers. Brick-and-mortar retailers have long feared showrooming, but now they're being told to embrace the trend, making it easy for consumers to co-shop with their mobile devices. "Every retailer needs an in-store screens strategy," advised Jon Stine, Cisco's director of global retail practice. That means in-store Wi-Fi for mobile devices and special in-store online browsing experiences administered through kiosks or to mobile devices.

Skin care, beauty, and cosmetics brand Kiehl's showcased one way it's taking advantage of this consumer behavior. It successfully piloted a SnapTap program that enabled shoppers at a Dillard's retail store to access additional product information or buy online by texting a number on their phones.

Once a customer is at the register, a retailer's attention could wane, but mobile payment companySquare has found a workaround by reinventing the point-of-sale system. Its mobile- and tablet-compatible POS system allows small retailers to understand their customers better and receive funds seamlessly. But Square has larger aspirations. Founder Jack Dorsey showed the additional personalization potential of the technology. …

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