Insights

IBM-Apple Deal: What it means for retailers

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — At first glance, the IBM-Apple partnership may seem to do little more than formalize a connection between two technologies that are mainstays of most retailers’ infrastructures. The fact is many retailers already use Apple iPhones and iPads as devices for in-store activities like product lookup, checkout and inventory management. And IBM is a leading provider of retail data analytics technology.

However, this partnership holds the potential for retailers to offer customers a much more robust and comprehensive omnichannel customer experience. For example, store employees could perform real-time “deep dive” analysis to uncover product-, location- and demographic-specific cross- and upsell offers that may resonate beyond offers based solely on purchase history.

Also, real-time targeted offers could take up-to-the-minute sales patterns into account, allowing retailers to better move overpriced merchandise before margin-eroding markdowns and clearances become necessary. Customers curious about what items other people are buying or using in conjunction with each other can get a fast, honest and unbiased answer. This kind of advanced analysis performed on mobile device at the point of customer contact both enhances customer satisfaction and boosts profits.

In addition, it is not insignificant that Apple and IBM are both leaders in providing leading-edge functionality in their respective categories. Apple essentially invented the tablet market and is at the forefront of providing smartphones that serve as sophisticated mobile computing devices rather than portable communication tools.

And with pioneering efforts like its Watson artificial intelligence platform, IBM has long been at the forefront of analytics and business intelligence. Having IBM analysis delivered through Apple mobile solutions may prove to be the best of both worlds for retailers looking to take a leading role in providing an omnichannel experience that delights and serves the customer.

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OPERATIONS

Apple and IBM partner for business software

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — IBM and Apple have entered into a comprehensive partnership to spread advanced mobile and data analysis technology in the corporate world. The deal brings together two historic competitors.

(See related content: What it means for retailers)

The two companies are jointly working on, and will release, more than 100 mobile applications tailored to work with IBM’s data analytics and cloud services developed exclusively for Apple’s iOS operating system and for use on iPhones and iPads.

The applications will be tailored for use in industries including retail, health care, transportation, banking, insurance and telecommunications. The two companies will also join together to sell iPads and iPhones to business users.

“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.”

Neither Apple nor IBM would disclose financial terms of the deal.

“We wanted to focus on creating an absolutely irresistible workflow and processes and a design of apps that can be used by every user in the organization,” Bridget van Kralingen, IBM’s senior VP of global business services told Reuters from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Specifically, the two companies stated they are working together to deliver the essential elements of enterprise mobile solutions, including:

• The companies will collaborate to build IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions — a new class of “made-for-business apps” targeting specific industry issues or opportunities in retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance, among others, that will become available starting this fall and into 2015.

• The IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will deliver the services required for an end-to-end enterprise capability, from analytics, workflow and cloud storage, to fleet-scale device management, security and integration. Enhanced mobile management includes a private app catalog, data and transaction security services, and productivity suite for all IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions. In addition to on-premise software solutions, all these services will be available on Bluemix — IBM’s development platform on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

• AppleCare for Enterprise will provide IT departments and end users with 24/7 assistance from Apple’s award-winning customer support group, with on-site service delivered by IBM.

• IBM is introducing IBM MobileFirst Supply and Management for device supply, activation and management services for iPhone and iPad, with leasing options.


See related content: What it means for retailers

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Insights

Simon breaks ground on Chicago Premium Outlets expansion

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Aurora, Ill. — Simon has launched construction of its expansion of Chicago Premium Outlets, adding 50 new stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, and including a comprehensive renovation of the Chicagoland center.

The multi-million dollar project will expand the outlet center by almost two-thirds, for a future total of more than 170 stores. Among the new retailers slated to open in late spring 2015 will be Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, which will join the center’s current list of designer and name brands, including Adidas, Coach, Gap Outlet, Kate Spade New York, Levi’s, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Theory, Vera Bradley and more.

Also announced were anticipated third-quarter 2014 openings of ASICS Outlet, The Disney Store, Hartmann Luggage, Loft Outlet and Tumi within the existing center.

Expansion plans also include amenities such as fire pits, art installations, a pond, and the addition of approximately 1,900 parking spaces. The new stores will occupy 45 acres on a vacant industrial site just east of the current Chicago Premium Outlets at Farnsworth Avenue and Bilter Road.

Simon also announced a complete renovation to the existing center, which serves as the anchor for value shopping in the Chicago region. Enhanced landscaping and newly paved sidewalks, upgraded seating and lounge areas, improved lighting, a fresh new paint color scheme, and updates to the center’s food offerings are all planned. The project will also include additional investment in the adjacent wetlands initiative.

“The expansion of Chicago Premium Outlets represents one of the largest expansions that Simon has planned to date,” said Mark Silvestri, COO, Simon Premium Outlets.

In addition to providing approximately 300 construction jobs, an estimated 500 full- and part-time workers will be employed by Chicago Premium Outlets’ new stores.

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