Guess CIO On iPad Trial: "This Is The Consumerization Of IT."

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Walk into one of about 25 Guess stores this week and you'll see customer-accessible iPads in the men's, women's and accessories departments and even in the dressing rooms. "For the cost of a kiosk, I can put in four or five of these," said Guess CIO Michael Relich. "This is the consumerization of IT."

But the Guess iPad trial is hardly being done to save costs. The flexibility of the tablets and sharp, customer-friendly graphics make the devices a much more effective way to show demos and to locate merchandise, check inventory, provide a denim fit guide and offer associate training and even a password-protected CRM area—anything that a kiosk would normally do. But just try grabbing a kiosk and bringing it over to a customer in a dressing room.

"This augments the shopping experience," Relich said. "How else would you see how an outfit looks together?" This is especially true if some of the elements of that outfit are in the store and others are online.

The iPads are using software from VeriFone's GlobalBay iPad Retailing unit.

Guess has been considering some other uses of the iPads. IT has discussed using the dressing room devices and "to have those tied into a call attendant system. Everyone wants to do it, as the benefits are huge," Relich said. But practical matters are preventing it from happening initially.

"To do it, we'd have to tie the actual iPads into the walkie-talkie system," and many of the functions—such as fetching new products in different sizes or colors for the customer to try on—can already be handled with the existing operation. An attendant is always in the dressing room area and customers "have an associate who is helping them. They are trained to come back in a few minutes and to ask 'Do you need any additional help?'"

The team also explored mobile in-aisle payments on iPod Touches, but PCI concerns are slowing that possibility, too. ("Guess Google Wallet Experience: Great Interface, Hardly Any Customers".) "Not sure we're ready to do that yet."