The Personal Touch

For upscale retailers, providing an intimate and responsive customer experience is even more critical than it is for more mainstream chains. In The Pink, a Falmouth, Mass.-based, seven-unit affiliate of specialty retailer Lilly Pulitzer, is disrupting both how customer service is delivered in its stores and how IT vendors deliver technology to retailers. 

In The Pink is in the interesting position of essentially serving as its own retail platform vendor. Gordon Russell, founder of In The Pink, is also co-founder of Springboard Retail, provider of retail software that helps In The Pink perform activities, such as checkout, reporting, inventory management, order placement, CRM and purchasing/receiving in a unified way that transforms the customer shopping environment.

Grow With What You Know

“Proprietary applications helped In The Pink grow between 1999 and 2008,” Russell said during an in-person interview at a Boston-area coffee shop. “In 2008, we realized that we couldn’t keep building proprietary applications.”

So in 2009, Russell co-founded Springboard Retail, using learnings from nine years of developing proprietary applications at In The Pink and a cloud-based Javascript infrastructure. In August 2011, In The Pink became Springboard Retail’s first client with an alpha rollout of an extensive platform.

“We wanted a modern retail platform with applications on top,” Russell said. “We see huge benefits from providing information across internal and external channels.”

The Right Data, Right Away

For example, the Springboard Retail platform provides In The Pink with a Web-based POS system that store associates can use on any device, including Android-based mobile phones and iPads. The system also allows employees to perform purchasing and receiving, inventory control and discounting from mobile devices. This makes activities such as ordering out-of-stock items much more responsive to customer demand.

Even more relevant to providing a disruptive customer experience is a first-generation customer dashboard accessible to store associates via mobile device. For customers who identify themselves or whom associates recognize, the dashboard enables a significant level of real-time personalization.

“Sales associates get vital information so they can make more relevant recommendations,” Russell said. “They get a comparison of the customer to all customers on average