Content about Tech Bytes

April 14, 2014

A few months ago, Amazon.com made a disruptive splash in the world of home delivery with the announcement of its drone project.

A few months ago, Amazon.com made a disruptive splash in the world of home delivery with the announcement of its drone project. The new Amazon Dash mobile ordering device for AmazonFresh customers may not be as attention-grabbing as unmanned aircraft bringing goods to your door, but its potential to disrupt how consumers select and purchase items is much greater.

April 7, 2014

The recent introduction of Retail Site Intelligence (RSI), a store technology platform based on the ZigBee wireless standard and collaboratively released by Kroger, EInfochips and Wincor-Nixdor, reinforces the coming explosion of sensing technologies in retail.

The recent introduction of Retail Site Intelligence (RSI), a store technology platform based on the ZigBee wireless standard and collaboratively released by Kroger, EInfochips and Wincor-Nixdor, reinforces the coming explosion of sensing technologies in retail.

March 31, 2014

At the recent Oracle Industry Connect Conference held in Boston, a number of speakers from prominent retailers including Kohl’s, Hot Topic, and C. Wonder extolled the virtues of “vanilla” implementations of enterprise systems.

At the recent Oracle Industry Connect Conference held in Boston, a number of speakers from prominent retailers including Kohl’s, Hot Topic, and C. Wonder extolled the virtues of “vanilla” implementations of enterprise systems. In this context, vanilla means implementing an enterprise platform with all or many of that vendor’s applications, minimizing customization or use of one-off “best of breed” solutions.

March 25, 2014

iBeacons, the Apple iOS 7 technological feature that uses low-frequency Bluetooth transmissions to help mobile devices track their position relative to stationary beacons, are getting quite a bit of attention from retailers and the IT vendors who serve them.

iBeacons, the Apple iOS 7 technological feature that uses low-frequency Bluetooth transmissions to help mobile devices track their position relative to stationary beacons, are getting quite a bit of attention from retailers and the IT vendors who serve them. Each beacon has a unique ID that lets mobile devices tell different beacons apart.

March 17, 2014

When preventing the type of data breaches that have recently gotten the names of several major retailers in the news for all the wrong reasons comes up, the discussion focuses almost exclusively on what type of technology should be employed to prevent them.

When preventing the type of data breaches that have recently gotten the names of several major retailers in the news for all the wrong reasons comes up, the discussion focuses almost exclusively on what type of technology should be employed to prevent them. IT is certainly a cornerstone of any retailer’s data security defense, but as explained in a Tech Boot Camp session at Chain Store Age’s 50th annual SPECS conference, a dose of common sense also goes a long way toward preventing unwanted visitors from entering your company’s network.

March 10, 2014

In recent years, the retail industry’s view of technology has expanded from something only the IT department needs to be concerned about to something that other departments, such as marketing and finance, also share an active interest in.

In recent years, the retail industry’s view of technology has expanded from something only the IT department needs to be concerned about to something that other departments, such as marketing and finance, also share an active interest in. But as demonstrated by the speakers lined up for the March 11 Tech Boot Camps at this week’s SPECS conference in Dallas, technology is also a concern of operational departments such as store planning, energy management, construction management, and real estate.

Secure the Perimeter

March 3, 2014

As I have previously expressed in this column, I am a Bitcoin skeptic. The recent news that major global Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox suddenly disappeared, possibly due to losing as much as $350 million to fraud allowed by a computer glitch, reinforced my reservations about Bitcoin and similar electronic currencies.

As I have previously expressed in this column, I am a Bitcoin skeptic. The recent news that major global Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox suddenly disappeared, possibly due to losing as much as $350 million to fraud allowed by a computer glitch, reinforced my reservations about Bitcoin and similar electronic currencies. In theory, independent electronic currencies are promising, but in practice, relying on third-party payment methods which are not backed by the full faith and credit of a stable government is a risky proposition.

February 24, 2014

Recent news that Starbucks will soon start offering a feature on its Square payment app that automatically prompts customers to leave a tip for appropriate purchases and also calculates “basic,” “better” and “best” tip amounts serves as a reminder of the three rules of modern CRM. Automate, automate, automate.

Recent news that Starbucks will soon start offering a feature on its Square payment app that automatically prompts customers to leave a tip for appropriate purchases and also calculates “basic,” “better” and “best” tip amounts serves as a reminder of the three rules of modern CRM: Automate, automate, automate.

February 18, 2014

In recent years, retailers have aggressively implemented in-store systems to track customers’ every move from the moment they enter till the moment they leave (hopefully including a trip through a checkout lane).

In recent years, retailers have aggressively implemented in-store systems to track customers’ every move from the moment they enter till the moment they leave (hopefully including a trip through a checkout lane). Specific details such as how long customers spend in front of a display are also carefully monitored and analyzed. Technology now allows retailers to keep tabs on what customers do in the store almost as rigorously as they follow customer actions online.

February 10, 2014

It’s no secret that today’s teens and twenty-somethings have grown up on social media and see it as an extension of their everyday lives.

It’s no secret that today’s teens and twenty-somethings have grown up on social media and see it as an extension of their everyday lives. But retailers who think they can just display a bunch of wares on a social media page and attract Millennial shoppers are sadly mistaken. A panel of five exceptionally bright and well-spoken Millennial consumers ages 16-21 (all offspring of prominent retail IT figures) at the recent Retail ROI “Super Saturday” event in New York gave some frank insight into how Millennials view social media.

February 3, 2014

As we look back on the first-ever outdoor cold weather Super Bowl, there are several lessons digital retailers can take away from how the NFL, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks all prepared for what many said was an impossible or foolish undertaking.

As we look back on the first-ever outdoor cold weather Super Bowl, there are several lessons digital retailers can take away from how the NFL, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks all prepared for what many said was an impossible or foolish undertaking. Some of the same steps these entities took to ensure a successful experience playing the Super Bowl is subfreezing conditions apply to retailers ensuring a successful digital experience for their customers, regardless of naysayers.

Flexibility Keeps Things Running

January 27, 2014

In recent years, customer engagement has become much more of a mission-critical function for retailers. While nobody would argue that retailers must engage their customers in a way that recognizes the disruptive effects of leading-edge technologies like social and mobile, there is a priority that looms even larger. Namely, data security.

In recent years, customer engagement has become much more of a mission-critical function for retailers. While nobody would argue that retailers must engage their customers in a way that recognizes the disruptive effects of leading-edge technologies like social and mobile, there is a priority that looms even larger. Namely, data security.

Insecure Data Creates Insecure Customers

January 20, 2014

As always, the NRF Conference & Exposition went by in a blur, but looking back on three jam-packed days of industry insight and networking, a few trends kept coming up again and again.

As always, the NRF Conference & Exposition went by in a blur, but looking back on three jam-packed days of industry insight and networking, a few trends kept coming up again and again. Seamless retail, full mobilization of customers and employees, and item-level RFID tagging stood out as topics of interest among exhibitors and attendees. Following are a few thoughts about each of these trends that will help shape the direction of retail in the year ahead.

Seamless Retailing – Moving Beyond Omni-channel

January 13, 2014

The NRF 2014 Conference & Exposition kicked things off Sunday, Jan. 12 with sessions examining both how social media will continue to evolve as a dominant means of customer interaction and how the brick-and-mortar store will remain a highly relevant part of the retail environment in the 21st century. Let’s look at a few highlights from each session.

The NRF 2014 Conference & Exposition kicked things off Sunday, Jan. 12 with sessions examining both how social media will continue to evolve as a dominant means of customer interaction and how the brick-and-mortar store will remain a highly relevant part of the retail environment in the 21st century. Let’s look at a few highlights from each session.

Picturing Social Success

January 9, 2014

You’ve got to hand it to Amazon.com. While consistently turning a profit has eluded Amazon for the past 18 years, the company has consistently taken a lead in disrupting retail.

You’ve got to hand it to Amazon.com. While consistently turning a profit has eluded Amazon for the past 18 years, the company has consistently taken a lead in disrupting retail. Whether it’s inventing e-commerce as a mainstream B2C transactional channel, taking a leading role in hosted cloud services with Amazon Web Services or helping to usher in the tablet era with Kindle e-readers, Amazon.com has never been afraid to do things in a way that alters how retail business is conducted.

January 6, 2014

Last week, I looked back at 2013 and how the biggest single trend in retail IT was customers using connective technology to take control of the shopping experience. This week, I look forward to the new year of 2014, when the biggest single trend in retail IT will be customer disruption.

Last week, I looked back at 2013 and how the biggest single trend in retail IT was customers using connective technology to take control of the shopping experience. This week, I look forward to the new year of 2014, when the biggest single trend in retail IT will be customer disruption.

December 23, 2013

We have reached the time of year when everyone wonders whether they made the “naughty” or “nice” list. Here are a few suggestions for omni-channel retailers who want to ensure Santa (and your customers) place you firmly on the nice list.

We have reached the time of year when everyone wonders whether they made the “naughty” or “nice” list. Here are a few suggestions for omni-channel retailers who want to ensure Santa (and your customers) place you firmly on the nice list.

Recognize Channel Differences and Limitations

December 16, 2013

It has been a rough start to the holiday season for the closeout retail sector. Building #19, a New England-based closeout chain that became something of a local institution, recently closed its doors after 50 years in business (though it plans to reopen a few locations as specialty rug stores).

It has been a rough start to the holiday season for the closeout retail sector. Building #19, a New England-based closeout chain that became something of a local institution, recently closed its doors after 50 years in business (though it plans to reopen a few locations as specialty rug stores). A few days later, national closeout powerhouse Big Lots reported disappointing financial results for the third quarter.

December 2, 2013

Bitcoin, the nearly anonymous, peer-to-peer online currency, has been getting attention lately. The attention has not been necessarily positive, as bitcoin was the preferred currency of the recently closed down Silk Road “darknet” site that served as a virtual global marketplace for narcotics and other illegal goods.

Bitcoin, the nearly anonymous, peer-to-peer online currency, has been getting attention lately. The attention has not been necessarily positive, as bitcoin was the preferred currency of the recently closed down Silk Road “darknet” site that served as a virtual global marketplace for narcotics and other illegal goods.

November 25, 2013

Many retailers are no doubt entering Thanksgiving week with trepidation at the prospect of keeping all systems go during what has become a six-day frenzy of “Black Friday” activity that now runs from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Monday after.

Many retailers are no doubt entering Thanksgiving week with trepidation at the prospect of keeping all systems go during what has become a six-day frenzy of “Black Friday” activity that now runs from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Monday after. But retailers actually have quite a bit to be thankful for in the world of IT. Let’s raise an imaginary glass of homemade cider and give thanks for a few helpful technology developments:

Cloud Technology

November 18, 2013

Workforce management data, such as time and attendance and payroll, is generally seen as information pertaining to the back end of retail operations.

Workforce management data, such as time and attendance and payroll, is generally seen as information pertaining to the back end of retail operations. Managing employees is an activity that generally does not involve front-end customer interaction and data generated from this activity is usually siloed from the data retailers use to help guide their customer-facing activities.

November 11, 2013

Information technology outsourcing (ITO) enables organizations to cut labor and infrastructure costs, improve operating efficiencies and increase flexibility in the IT department.

Information technology outsourcing (ITO) enables organizations to cut labor and infrastructure costs, improve operating efficiencies and increase flexibility in the IT department. Although certain aspects of retailing are ideally suited to out-of-house automation via ITO, the retail industry as a whole has not embraced ITO as much as some other industries.

November 4, 2013

As both founder of legendary 1960s rock group The Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, recently departed singer/songwriter Lou Reed was noted as a visionary and a curmudgeon.

As both founder of legendary 1960s rock group The Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, recently departed singer/songwriter Lou Reed was noted as a visionary and a curmudgeon. While his gruff approach to critics and fans may not be the best customer engagement template, Reed’s innovations as a musical artist offer lessons for retailers seeking success in the digital arena.

Avoiding all That Jazz

October 28, 2013

For many retailers, Halloween has become one of their favorite times of year. Spending on Halloween-related costumes, decorations, candy, etc. has grown to the point it represents the second-highest consumer spending holiday, only trailing Christmas with NRF estimates of this year’s spending total reaching $6.9 billion.

For many retailers, Halloween has become one of their favorite times of year. Spending on Halloween-related costumes, decorations, candy, etc. has grown to the point it represents the second-highest consumer spending holiday, only trailing Christmas with NRF estimates of this year’s spending total reaching $6.9 billion. But while a good scare is all part of the annual Halloween fun, retailers need to ensure their omni-channel customers do not get scared away by frighteningly poor digital commerce features and functions.

October 21, 2013

I have now been in my role as senior editor of Chain Store Age, specializing in retail IT coverage, for six months.

I have now been in my role as senior editor of Chain Store Age, specializing in retail IT coverage, for six months. Beyond being surprised at how quickly the past 180 days have gone by and grateful at how welcoming the industry has been to me, I also can’t help but be amazed at how much retail IT has changed since I was last actively involved in covering this field in 2006.