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Why Apple-IBM deal is huge for retail

BY CSA STAFF

The revelation that IBM and Apple would be working together on a new range of mobile solutions is a huge development in its own right, but the landmark deal also promises to have a wide-ranging impact on the retail industry.

The reason why IBM and Apple joining forces to, as they put it, “transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business app,” is such a big deal relates to the companies’ respective strengths that will be brought to bear against the retail industry’s biggest operational challenges. In a nutshell, IBM is combining its big data and analytics capabilities with Apple’s iPhone and iPad to serve corporate customers in industry verticals, one of which is retail.

“iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work with over 98% of the Fortune 500 and over 92% of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”

That would sound like hyperbole expect for the fact that it is true. Apple made the smartphone easy and intuitive and then did the same for tablet computers. It pushed the complexity of the operating systems upstream so the user didn’t have to think about configuring the device and customizing settings, freeing them to engage with and enjoy content.

For its part, IBM can tout a long list of capabilities and business accomplishments without which many company can’t operate. Recent years have seen IBM transform its business to become the global leader in big data, analytics and business intelligence.

“Mobility, combined with the phenomena of data and cloud, is transforming business and our industry in historic ways, allowing people to re-imagine work, industries and professions,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO. “This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM’s leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can’t imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform.”

For starters, the partnership aims to redefine the way work gets done by addressing key mobility challenges in four areas. The companies plan to develop a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions, one of which is retail, that include native apps that are developed exclusively from the ground up for iPhone and iPad. In addition, there will be unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS such as device management, security, analytics and mobile integration. A new AppleCare service and support offering will be developed as will a new IBM offering for device activation, supply and management.

Retail will be one of the first industry verticals receiving attention from the companies as they build a new class of “made-for-business apps” under the banner of IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions. The apps targeting specific industry issues or opportunities in retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance, among others, will become available starting this fall and into 2015.

The result will be a range of apps that can transform specific aspects of how retailers, their employees and trading partners work using iPhone and iPad. According to IBM and Apple this will allow companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction faster and easier than ever before.

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Decker new head merchant at Home Depot

BY CSA STAFF

The Home Depot elevated 14-year veteran Ted Decker to the role of EVP of merchandising to oversee all aspects of merchandising strategy and operations.

Decker had previously served as SVP of retail finance, pricing analytics and assortment planning. He assumes his new role August 4 and will report to Craig Menear, Home Depot’s president of U.S. retail.

In a brief statement announcing Decker’s promotion, Home Depot said Decker had played an integral role in the company's merchandising transformation, leading the implementation of new pricing and analytics processes, as well as new merchandise planning and assortment tools.

"Ted's business acumen and retail experience have enabled him to serve as a broad contributor to our success in the marketplace over the past several years," said Menear. "His leadership and strategic expertise make him a perfect fit to lead our merchandising team going forward."

Prior to joining Home Depot in 2000, Decker held various positions in strategic planning, business development, finance and treasury at Kimberly-Clark and Scott Paper Co.

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New app unleashes artistic sales potential

BY CSA STAFF

A new iPad app that allows art enthusiasts to browse and order millions of images from 250,000 artists is a game-changing development for buyers and sellers, according to app developer Pixels.com.

Users are able to browse and preview images on their walls using the iPad’s built-in camera, and then purchase the images as framed prints, canvas prints or greeting cards. The free app is the only one to combine photo and artwork sharing with e-commerce and a 3D-like “view on your wall” feature, according to app developer Pixels.com.

"There are thousands of apps on the app store that allow users to share and comment on images. The Pixels.com app goes far beyond image sharing. It’s an e-commerce sales tool. It’s a product visualization tool. It’s an artist discovery tool and so much more,” said Sean Broihier, Pixels.com’s founder and CEO.

With the app’s augmented reality interface, buyers are able to preview images on the walls of their homes, customize the images with thousands of frame and mat combinations, and then see exactly what the finished products will look like from different angles within a room. The app takes the guesswork out of selecting artwork, since everything is perfectly to scale. For instance, a 24 inch by 36 inch canvas print will appear on the wall at exactly 24 inches x 36 inches. As an individual walks around the room, the app uses the iPad’s video camera and a unique tracking algorithm to keep the image perfectly positioned in the desired location on the wall, according to the company.

"Pixels.com has been a leader in the e-commerce art space since 2006, and this is the most powerful innovation we’ve ever released," said Broihier. "Liking and commenting on photos in the online world is fun. It’s much more fun, however, to bring those images into the real world, decorate your home with amazing artwork, and help support living artists and photographers in the process."

The app features 7.5 million images which have been uploaded by the same artists and photographers who sell thousands of prints each week on the Pixels.com website which attracts 10 million visitors each month.

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