M2M Rocks Retail

9/20/2011

As consumers embrace connected devices and technologies; how can retailers best leverage this trend? Soon, it will not just be customers, but employees on the job who leverage M2M (machine-to-machine) technology. These systems and devices will transform the retail and POS (point-of-sale) experience for all involved.

For retailers, the adoption of mobile technology by their customers can be viewed in two ways: as a threat or as an opportunity. It may make some companies uneasy to think their patrons can compare prices and product availability via their smart devices, and potentially ward off some business to competitors or online outlets.

However, not all businesses feel threatened. In fact a growing number of retailers see the exact same trend as an opportunity. Retailers such as Home Depot, Nordstrom, Sears, and Urban Outfitters, for example, have either implemented or begun to test technology and devices as part of the retail experience.


Macy’s Inc., www.macysinc.com, announced last week it will offer several new technologies to enhance customer service and engagement at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s locations. The company hopes the innovations will make their customers’ shopping experience more “convenient, fun, and interesting.”

For instance, Macy’s says it will begin testing interactive product kiosks and arming concierge associates with handheld mobile devices. It has also begun installing Wi-Fi in its stores, so that by the end of October, full public Wi-Fi access will be available in more than 200 Macy’s and nine Bloomingdale’s locations nationwide.

Also this fall, 350 stores will equip associates with tablets to help customers select skin-care products at make-up counters; five Bloomingdale’s shoe departments will use tablets and handheld devices to give customers the largest possible selection; 25 Macy’s locations will use tablets to demonstrate products at jewelry counters; and all furniture/mattress delivery associates will begin using GPS-enabled tablets to plan routes, record signatures, and access information onsite.

Google Wallet, a mobile app that stores virtual versions of credit cards on your smartphone, is also being tested at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores in five markets. Google’s, www.google.com, solution—rumored to launch sometime this week—uses NFC (near-field communication) technology to enable contactless POS transactions.

In many ways it seems mobile POS is at a tipping point, probably thanks to launches such as Google Wallet. If the trend continues, we could see a dramatic shift in the retail experience within the next 18-24 months.




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