10 Big Tech Ideas For Retailers

Mobile and social lead the list of hot tech trends for retailers, but they had company at the National Retail Federation's Big Show 2012. Here's a basket full of ideas to check out.

Doug Henschen, Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

January 20, 2012

11 Slides

10 Technologies And Tips For Retailers
All things mobile and social took center stage at the National Retail Federation's Big Show 2012. Retailers already live in a multichannel world--counting retail stores, Web sites, email campaigns, contact centers, kiosks, catalogs, and other methods to reach customers. But social commerce and mobile commerce are remaking the way consumers shop. "It's the biggest change in shopping since e-commerce," according to retail trendwatcher Nita Rollins of Resource Interactive.

The Big Show "Engage & Evolve" theme encourages retailers to meet customers on Facebook and Twitter as well as through mobile apps that add brand value and bring shoppers back--no matter where they may be. An IBM study shows that consumers are only too willing to share personal details such as their media consumption, age, race, gender, income, name, address, and lifestyle details (such as hobbies and other interests) with retailers that they trust--so long as it means they'll get relevant offers through their preferred channel of communications.

Like many retailers, American Eagle Outfitters is taking advantage of the newest channels, promoting its brand across social networks and delivering personalized offers, loyalty program information, product information, and commerce capabilities through mobile apps. Ice.com tries to make its social experience fun and interactive with polls and games that unlock discounts and special offers. Ice also tries to take advantage of Facebook's Edge Rank algorithm, which favors content the sparks likes and interaction. "If your comments and posts on Facebook don't elicit comment and action, then you're wasting your time," advises Pinny Gniwisch of Ice.com.

Augmented reality is another emerging tech theme in retail. One of the most visible examples at the Big Show is Swivel's Microsoft-Kinect-enabled virtual fitting room, which lets customers try on clothes from a virtual clothing rack. Don't have Xbox and Kinect? There's a Web cam version as well. Among other technologies seen at the Big Show, Digiops offers a video analytics system that counts people, conversion rates, and even security risks, helping retailers track store traffic and optimize every square foot.

For the back office, SAS offers predictive-analytics-driven price and promotion optimization software, as well as assortment planning and financial planning apps that take the guesswork out of crucial decisions. And to connect the back office with the retail floor, Epicor has introduced a "Clienteling" tablet app that serves up customer info from the CRM system to salespeople, to help them better cater to each customer's preferences. Browse these tips and tools for retailers and then cash in on the advice and technology advantage.

About the Author(s)

Doug Henschen

Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of Transform Magazine, and Executive Editor at DM News. He has covered IT and data-driven marketing for more than 15 years.

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