Three Ways Expanding Capabilities in Mobile Devices Will Impact Retail
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.
1. The Store Gains Importance
In recent years, retailers have realized that most profits are still generated in brick-and-mortar stores and that omnichannel strategies must have a solid physical foundation. However, the emergence of new mobile analytical and business intelligence capabilities will only make the store even more important. By providing store associates easy, app-based access to deep analytics, mobile devices will allow targeted upselling and cross-selling at a more individualized, time-, product- and location-sensitive level. Also, real-time targeted offers could take current, chainwide, SKU-level sales patterns into account, allowing retailers to better move overpriced merchandise before margin-eroding markdowns and clearances become necessary.
All this will increase sales volume and customer satisfaction at the store, meaning the store’s role in broader omnichannel strategies will also increase.
2. Analysis Becomes Easier
Higher-level employees in the IT and merchandising departments may not like hearing this, but mobile devices loaded with apps that perform complex analytical and business intelligence tasks will make analysis easier, and thus their jobs more expendable. Naturally, a store associate with an app cannot fully replace more skilled (and better compensated) IT and merchandising experts when it comes to crunching data and discovering actionable insights.
But they can reduce the organization’s reliance on experts to pull out and leverage the actionable insights in a timely, targeted manner. It’s not an accident that advanced IT and analytical functionality is moving toward mobile devices, which younger (and cheaper) employees have grown up using and intuitively understand how to operate.
3. The Internet Gets Bigger
The reach of the Internet in retail keeps growing as more devices and even objects and articles of clothing become Web-enabled. We are entering an era some are calling “Web 3.0” or the “Internet of Things.” However, the kind of capabilities that mobile devices will soon deliver will make the scope of the Internet even bigger.
Rather than merely extending the reach of the Web as a tool for sending and receiving data, advanced mobile analytics will extend the reach of the Web as a tool for analyzing data and utilizing it for improved decision-making, merchandising and CRM.
For the first time, the full knowledge potential of the Internet will be accessible across the organization and during real-time customer interactions, with minimal technical skill required. This development, rather than something like refrigerators that automatically reorder milk, may prove to be the most important and beneficial extension of the size and reach of the Internet for retail.
Tesco CEO to be replaced by Unilever exec
New York — British retailing giant Tesco Plc on Monday said CEO Philip Clarke would step down in October, to be replaced by 27-year Unilever executive Dave Lewis, with the change effective Oct. 1. Clarke, who has been with Tesco for 40 years, will remain with the retailer until January 2015.
(See related story: Planet Retail commentary on Tesco’s new CEO)
Also on Monday, Tesco said recent sales had been more challenging than anticipated and its profit in the first half of its financial year would be below expectations. It was the second profit warning issued since Clarke took the reins of the company in March 2011.
"Having guided Tesco through a substantial repositioning in challenging markets, Philip Clarke agreed with the board that this is the appropriate moment to hand over to a new leader with fresh perspectives and a new profile," Tesco chairman Richard Broadbent said in a statement.
The incoming Tesco CEO, who is credited with revamping a succession of businesses at Unilever, currently serves as its global president of personal care.
“Dave Lewis brings a wealth of international consumer experience and expertise in change management, business strategy, brand management and customer development,” Broadbent said. “He is already known to many people inside Tesco having worked with the business over many years in his roles at Unilever. The board believes that with Dave’s leadership Tesco will sustain and improve its leading position in the retail market."
Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited offers new flat fee service
Seattle – Amazon.com is offering a new service, called Kindle Unlimited, aimed at consumers who do heavy book reading and/or listening. The service will work similar to Netflix in that users will pay a base monthly fee for unlimited access to a catalogue of content. Instead of movies and TV shows, however, Kindle Unlimited gives Kindle users access to more than 600,000 Kindle books (and thousands of Audible audiobooks) for a flat monthly rate of $9.99 a month.
Amazon customers will know which books are eligible for the program by locating the Kindle Unlimited logo on select titles and then clicking on the link, “read for free.”
Not all titles available on Amazon will be included in the Kindle Unlimited catalog, but some best sellers will be available such as The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Lord of the Rings.
In addition, thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible will also be available. The service launched on July 18 and to get customers hooked during the summer reading season the company is offering a free 30 day trial period.
“With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre — you can just start reading and listening,” said Kindle SVP Russ Grandinetti. “In addition to offering over 600,000 eBooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy.”