A dynamite example of IT transformation

By Shane Schick, CIO Canada |  Business

" Guess: Using customer relationship management (CRM) data, the company is allowing customers to share offers

and product info with friends via social media platforms like Facebook, and pushes targeted and personalized content and offers.

" REI: Rather than try to avoid comparison shopping, the outdoor clothing chain has mobile apps and Web sites that encourage consultative/interactive selling, showing technical characteristics that differentiate various product lines. This information is being delivered on a kiosk as well, with mobile POS planned later this year.

" Pacsun: The clothing manufacturer has created a photobased electronic "lookbook" where you can engage with someone in the store and walk through outfit combinations on a tablet.

" Lowes: In an effort to appeal to home renovators, an application called MyLowes allows customers to easily track their online and in-store purchases so they'll only get exactly what they

need for a particular project.

" Stop&Shop: We've all gotten used to self-checkouts like those stationed in IKEA, but this grocer's app lets customers scan items on their own iPhone as they shop. This can make it easier for stressed out parents, because the child can do the scanning, increasing engagement. Once they're done, customers simply walk to the self-checkout lane, scan their frequent shopper card and pay.

Hand also profiled up-andcoming retail chains that Canadians may never have heard of, like C.Wonder, which sprang to life complete with mobile POS, a mobile inventory system, integrated RFID, and even apps that allow adjustable lighting and choice of music in fitting rooms.

"You just have to imagine: What if you didn't have all this legacy business and technology, and could start from scratch?" she asked, adding that retailers should study customer behavior to ensure they optimize the right channel for the right purposes. Smart phones might be great for research, but holding up a tablet, she said, "This is the device where they tend to actually pull the trigger and buy something."

--SS

This is a portrait of the "omnichannel" shopper, the kind of customer all Canadian retailers need to begin cultivating, according to the research director for IDC's Retail Insights division, who spoke at a summit on retail and mobility in Toronto last April.

Hand defined omnichannel shoppers as those customers who want to interact with retailers via multiple channels, but who also want to see consistent levels of service, regardless of touchpoint. This means trying to get that person standing in the checkout aisle to look up from their device, see other items on a shelf or talk to an associate on the floor. It also means locationbased offers via SMS or text message, and even point of sale kiosks inside the store.

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