Make Way for High-Tech Retail

12/1/2011

The holiday season is officially underway in the U.S., and it’s already clear that connected devices and technologies will play a big role in the shopping season this year. Consumers are not only buying technology, they are using it to make buying decisions, and retailers are even using it to sell.

According to the CEA (Consumer Electronics Assn.), www.ce.org, nearly half of those who went shopping this past weekend made at least one technology purchase—that’s nearly 60 million Americans. In fact, consumer electronics were the second most popular buying category during the Black-Friday-through–Cyber-Monday period.

The association’s latest Holiday Purchase Patterns Study suggests the average consumer will spend nearly $250 on technology gifts this year, which is an all-time high. But technology is not only making our gift lists, it’s helping make our shopping experience more seamless; it’s also helping us find the best deals.


Just in time for the shopping rush, shopkick, www.shopkick.com, a location-based app that rewards shoppers for walking into stores, announced Old Navy, www.oldnavy.com, will join its list of partners. The service went live earlier this month in all of the retailer’s nearly 1,000 U.S. stores. The rollout will reward smartphone owners that have downloaded the shopkick app with rewards called “kicks,” which can be redeemed for in-store gift cards, song downloads, and movie tickets, among other perks.

Old Navy joins a myriad of other shopkick partners, which include American Eagle Outfitters, Best Buy, Crate and Barrel, The Sports Authority, and Target. Macy’s, www.macys.com, has also implemented shopkick technology, but this deployment is just part of this retailer’s tech strategy.

On this week’s edition of The Peggy Smedley Show, www.peggysmedleyshow.com, an Internet talk radio show that focuses on M2M and connected devices, host Peggy Smedley welcomed Bill Connell, senior vice president of Macy’s Logistics and Operations, to discuss the company’s high-tech approach to this holiday shopping season and its customers’ shopping experience for years to come.

Connell says Macy’s is not only rolling out RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to help in the replenishment business of both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s department stores, it is committed to providing free Wi-Fi in its stores and arming cosmetic clerks with connected devices such as tablets.

Other retailers, such as GAP, Jamba Juice, Walgreens, and Toys ‘R’ Us, have made an effort to upgrade the shopping experience by adopting Google Wallet, a “tap-to-pay” service from Google, www.google.com, that allows customers with NFC (near-field communication)-equipped smartphones to make payments by touching their device to an enabled check-out terminal.

Connected devices in the hands of employees might also improve your shopping experience this season. Competitive retailers Home Depot, www.homedepot.com, and Lowe’s, www.lowes.com, have both begun implementing mobile-POS solutions that will arm associates with handheld devices.

Robert Niblock, CEO of Lowe’s, says the company will leverage connected-device technology to allow its employees to check inventory, access how-to videos to better serve customers, and tap the company’s Website as an additional resource from the sales floor.

Technology is always a hot gift item, but this year connected devices will also play a crucial role in the shopping experience. In fact, it might even make your holiday season a little less hectic.




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