Content about Tech Bytes

July 21, 2014

Recent announcements that Apple will partner with IBM to release more than 100 mobile iOS applications tailored to work with IBM’s data analytics and cloud services, and that Microsoft will focus on digital work innovation in its smartphone segment, serve as reminders that mobile devices are continuing to evolve.

Recent announcements that Apple will partner with IBM to release more than 100 mobile iOS applications tailored to work with IBM’s data analytics and cloud services, and that Microsoft will focus on digital work innovation in its smartphone segment, serve as reminders that mobile devices are continuing to evolve. Increasingly, mobile devices are offering features that make it easier for retailers to position advanced computational and analytical power at the point of customer contact. Here are three ways upcoming changes in the capabilities of mobile devices will affect retail.

July 14, 2014

Sears and Kmart recently announced they will allow pickup of Sears.com or Kmart.com orders at any of each other's more than 2,000 U.S. stores.

Sears and Kmart recently announced they will allow pickup of Sears.com or Kmart.com orders at any of each other's more than 2,000 U.S. stores. Customers will be able to select free store pickup and a preferred pickup location for specially marked online items. The retailers are even taking the digitally progressive step of offering online video instruction through the YouTube channel for members of the Sears/Kmart Shop Your Way omnichannel loyalty program.

July 7, 2014

Retailers have long been urged to employ Big Data analysis to uncover big insights into how their business is performing, how their brand resonates among consumers, and whether their customer experience meets expectations. =

Retailers have long been urged to employ Big Data analysis to uncover big insights into how their business is performing, how their brand resonates among consumers, and whether their customer experience meets expectations. But the new trend in Big Data is applying much more refined analysis at the granular level to uncover small insights that can combine to reveal even larger truths.

June 30, 2014

Betamax. Zune. Google Plus. These are just a few consumer technology applications that hit the market with a lot of hype and all failed to catch on for the same basic reason. It seems clear that the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader tablet can now be considered part of this list, although Barnes & Noble has not yet accepted it.

Betamax. Zune. Google Plus. These are just a few consumer technology applications that hit the market with a lot of hype and all failed to catch on for the same basic reason. It seems clear that the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader tablet can now be considered part of this list, although Barnes & Noble has not yet accepted it.

June 23, 2014

I don’t mean for this column to become a running commentary on the latest goings-on at Amazon.com, but there’s no escaping the fact that after two decades, the e-commerce pioneer remains at the forefront of digital commerce innovation.

I don’t mean for this column to become a running commentary on the latest goings-on at Amazon.com, but there’s no escaping the fact that after two decades, the e-commerce pioneer remains at the forefront of digital commerce innovation. One area where Amazon has particularly excelled is at creating new form factors for consuming its content and buying its goods, and the recent release of the Amazon Fire smartphone is the latest example.

June 16, 2014

Retailers are urged to provide a customer experience fit for the “digital natives” of the Millennial generation, who have grown up with constant connectivity and limitless personal choice. These all-important young consumers need to be able to buy any product on earth at any time with any electronic doodad they happen to be surfing the Net with at a given moment, or so it seems.

Retailers are urged to provide a customer experience fit for the “digital natives” of the Millennial generation, who have grown up with constant connectivity and limitless personal choice. These all-important young consumers need to be able to buy any product on earth at any time with any electronic doodad they happen to be surfing the Net with at a given moment, or so it seems.

June 9, 2014

While the mantra of “keep it simple, stupid” has long been a staple in the world of business, the message of the recent SAP Sapphire 2014 conference in Orlando could be summed up as “keep it simple, smart.”

While the mantra of “keep it simple, stupid” has long been a staple in the world of business, the message of the recent SAP Sapphire 2014 conference in Orlando could be summed up as “keep it simple, smart.” Speakers throughout the three-day event stressed how leading-edge technology allows enterprises to operate with a previously unavailable simplicity and flexibility, providing new and exciting capabilities. Here are a few examples.

June 2, 2014

Automated assortment targeting is one of the most important technology-aided merchandising strategies to develop in the past 10 years.

Automated assortment targeting is one of the most important technology-aided merchandising strategies to develop in the past 10 years. Retailers can use advanced algorithmic and behavioral tracking solutions to instantly determine what items a customer is most likely to buy and present them in a way that maximizes conversion potential. Omnichannel devices like smartphones, tablets and kiosks allow retailers to effectively deliver personalized assortments within the confines of a physical store, as well as online.

May 27, 2014

Every May, the MIT Sloan School of Management hosts a one-day CIO Symposium where great academic minds mix with great business minds. The result is always an outpouring of IT and business thought leadership, and this year was no exception.

Every May, the MIT Sloan School of Management hosts a one-day CIO Symposium where great academic minds mix with great business minds. The result is always an outpouring of IT and business thought leadership, and this year was no exception. A panel of CIOs, including Adriana Karaboutis of Dell and Roger Gurnani of Verizon, discussed what leading the digital enterprise means for today’s top IT executives, and why taking a leading digital enterprise role is so critical. Following are a few insights gleaned from the session:

May 19, 2014

When industry experts talk about retailers connecting with today’s mobile consumer, they are generally referring to customers who always travel with smartphones and tablets. But there is another type of “mobile” consumer touchpoint retailers should be targeting, and that is the automobile.

When industry experts talk about retailers connecting with today’s mobile consumer, they are generally referring to customers who always travel with smartphones and tablets. But there is another type of “mobile” consumer touchpoint retailers should be targeting, and that is the automobile.

May 12, 2014

Speakers at the recent Momentum 2014 conference held by Manhattan Associates in Hollywood, Florida, discussed a wide variety of supply chain topics.

Speakers at the recent Momentum 2014 conference held by Manhattan Associates in Hollywood, Florida, discussed a wide variety of supply chain topics. However, one theme that ran through many sessions was the expanded range of competition retailers face from a multitude of sources and channels. Properly meeting this competition requires a rethinking and broadening of supply chain strategy.

May 5, 2014

It has been about five months since the Target data breach made the vulnerability of retail POS data a hot topic. Investigation has since shown the Target breach did not involve POS terminals.

It has been about five months since the Target data breach made the vulnerability of retail POS data a hot topic. Investigation has since shown the Target breach did not involve POS terminals. However, high-profile thefts of customer payment card data from Target and other retailers including Neiman Marcus, Michaels and Sally Beauty Supply have highlighted the need for U.S. retailers to adopt the global Europass, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) standard for accepting payments from cards that store consumer information on secure embedded microchips, rather than on magnetic stripes.

April 28, 2014

IBM and digital commerce firm Fluid are collaborating on Fluid Expert Shopper (XPS), an app made with the IBM Watson artificial intelligence platform.

IBM and digital commerce firm Fluid are collaborating on Fluid Expert Shopper (XPS), an app made with the IBM Watson artificial intelligence platform. Fluid XPS lets consumers ask highly specific questions, as they would a sales associate in a store, and receive personalized advice. The app will take advantage of Watson’s abilities to understand and learn from natural language, meaning it will engage in human-like conversations and provide product recommendations that take the context of customer questions into account.

April 21, 2014

Back in October, I commemorated my six-month anniversary as technology editor of Chain Store Age with a column looking at how retail IT has been disrupted in recent years.

Back in October, I commemorated my six-month anniversary as technology editor of Chain Store Age with a column looking at how retail IT has been disrupted in recent years. Now that I have a full year under my belt, I thought it would be interesting to look at how customer expectations of retail IT have been disrupted in recent years (and don’t worry, there will be no 18-month anniversary piece). Three paradigm-shifting changes in how retailers must now engage with customers using technology stand out.

Every Man is an Island

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