MOBILITY

Boots UK and IBM bring omnichannel functionality into the store

BY Michael Johnsen

Boots, the U.K.-based pharmacy and beauty retailer, and IBM announced that Boots has launched Sales Assist, an IBM MobileFirst for iOS app, across its U.K. stores to make it easier for customers to find the products they need.

Sales Assist is one of the 100-plus enterprise-focused apps that IBM has produced in collaboration with Apple for iPhone and iPad, aimed at a range of specific industries and professions.

“At Boots UK we’re investing in innovative new technology to further improve the retail experience for our customers, and mobility is at the forefront of this transformation,” stated Robin Phillips, director of omnichannel and development at Boots UK. “By developing Sales Assist, in collaboration with IBM and Apple, and launching it on the 3,700 iPads in our stores, we’re integrating our digital and in-store presence to deliver an even better shopping environment for customers.”

The new app will also help the retailer’s store employees assist shoppers.

"The unique tool allows our colleagues to quickly show product information, ratings and reviews, look up inventory online and make recommendations based on online analytics, all from the shop floor. It will help even our smallest stores feel like a flagship shop, with access to the entire Boots range at their fingertips.”

The new app taps into the product databases on boots.com with iPad, and uses its analytics to enable colleagues to easily make personal recommendations to customers, such as additional items or alternatives available, as well as view item location and online inventory,” said Phillips. "If a product is not in stock in store, the Boots associate can simply use the app to locate the item in another Boots store nearby or offer to order the product online to be collected in the store of their choice the next day."

“Together, IBM and Apple are working with companies and real industry professionals to change how companies do business, and our collaboration with Boots UK is delivering a more contemporary approach to customer service,” said Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager, Apple partnership, IBM. “By empowering its colleagues with up-to-date data and product information delivered to the Apple device, Boots UK is leading amongst retailers by creating an enriched shopping experience that helps personalize customer engagement and enables faster service.”

IBM is working with Boots UK, which is part of the Retail Pharmacy International Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, to further evolve the app and support the retailer’s vision to use mobility to change the way customers shop.

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

PetSmart revs up store expansion

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation’s largest specialty pet supplies retailer is upping its store growth this year.

PetSmart said it expects to open approximately 80 net new stores in fiscal 2016, up from 50 locations in fiscal 2015.

PetSmart is on its way to meeting its goal, having opened 12 net new stores in the United States and Canada during the quarter ended May 1, 2016. The new locations average over 12,000 sq. ft., and include service offerings such as grooming and pet training.

“We are ramping up efforts to expand our footprint in North America and are actively identifying and evaluating opportunities in both current and new markets,” said Brian Amkraut, senior VP of real estate, strategy and initiatives. “Our aim is to focus on consumers’ localized needs and we’re pleased to have more opportunities to engage with and serve customers, and to be active in supporting pets and pet parents in these communities.”

PetSmart recently strengthened its real estate team with the promotion of Ryan O’Sullivan to VP of real estate and the addition of Ryan Hill as a VP of real estate and development.

PetSmart currently operates 1,466 stores in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and 203 in-store PetSmart PetsHotel dog and cat boarding facilities.

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TECHNOLOGY

Outdoor lifestyle brand matching store space to green space

BY Marianne Wilson

Timberland announced a goal to double its footprint in five U.S. cities by 2020 — but not in the conventional year.

Each year for the next five years, the brand will choose a different city with a Timberland store, and match its retail floor space with the creation or restoration of an equivalent amount of green space in that city.

“We believe green spaces are the heartbeat of a community,” said Colleen Vien, sustainability director at Timberland. “They do so much more than provide a place to play and explore; they also help enhance quality of life in the form of improved health and overall well-being. They simply make neighborhoods stronger. We are proud to make this commitment today, so these vibrant city spaces can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

To launch this five-year initiative, more than 100 volunteers from Timberland and its partners pulled on their boots Wednesday in New York City in partnership with local non-profit GrowNYC to help transform a 32,000 sq. ft. garden space in the South Bronx.

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