Retail technology is among the hottest topics in the tech world, but is still in its infancy. This was made exceedingly clear after a recent trip to SXSW Interactive, where sessions and presentations about retail technology in general, and mobile retail in particular, took center stage.
Ulta Beauty, the one-stop destination for beauty products and services, is leveraging technology to better personalize and customize their connection with shoppers in stores.
The mass market is still recovering from its latest bout with "The Bright Shiny Object Syndrome." It comes down with this fever every time a new technology product catches its fancy. The symptoms are excessive hype, excitement and preoccupation until the next hot thing comes along.
While a company might get lucky, and hit on a unique product, history has shown that just isn't enough to drive sustainable results. In other words, for the short term, customers will put up with almost anything to get the "next big thing." The operative phrase here is: "short-term."
Creating the online equivalent of the in-store experience, one that hinges on associate interaction, is a challenge for any retailer. So for home furniture chain Room & Board, the idea that impersonal data could create a more personalized experience was a foreign one.
The success, according to Kimberly Ruthenbeck, Room & Board's director of Web experience, is the marriage of online and in-store data that creates a solution that neither platform was able to offer on its own. Through data and predictive decisions provided by Salesforce, Room & Board has been able to improve on the store associate's ability to offer suggestions, pair items and sell accessories. That, in turn, has yielded higher conversion rates and larger orders.
The explosive growth of digital technology is compelling retail CIOs to embrace mobile and cloud mediums.
Most retailers operate about 60 percent of their systems in the cloud, and others hope to increase that figure to 90 percent soon, according to an article written in Express Computer by Marco de Vries, CEO of Openbravo, an open-source software company based in Spain.
In the next two years, more retailers will adopt customer-facing mobile services to enhance the shopping experience, according to a study from Boston Retail Partners. The report found that the number of retailers offering advanced mobile technologies, including mobile point-of-sale terminals, geo-location and proximity payment solutions, will proliferate. Localization technologies, such as beacons and radio frequency identification, are also expected to grow, de Vries said.
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