TECHNOLOGY

Specialty apparel retailer has new ‘assistant:’ Amazon’s Alexa

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Now that Amazon’s voice-assistant Alexa supports business tasks, Brooks Brothers is wasting no time putting it to work.

The specialty apparel retailer is an early adopter of Alexa for Business, a new service from Amazon Web Services (AWS). The intelligent assistant is designed to automate and simplify tasks across the enterprise — in conference rooms, at associates’ work spaces and around the office.

Business users can set up shared Alexa devices in common areas around the workplace, including conference rooms, huddle rooms, lobbies, and communications centers. The AWS Management console manages devices, enrolls users, and assigns skills to automate tasks in each location.

Brooks Bros. was already a long-time user of AWS’ managed service Amazon Chime, a video and audio conferencing service that lets users chat and share content. Alexa for Business is a natural extension of AWS’ services.

“We are using Alexa to simplify our conference room experience,” said Philip Miller, CISO, Brooks Brothers. “Alexa takes care of all the details by allowing us to begin meetings with the simple voice command, ‘Alexa, start the meeting.’ Not only does Alexa for Busi-ness make it easy for me to provision and manage Echo devices throughout my office, but also configure them to work with Amazon Chime and my existing conference room AV/VC equipment.”

In addition to starting conference calls, Alexa for business also controls conference room equipment, schedules meetings, keeps track of tasks, and can reorder supplies. The technology can also be tailored with custom “private” voice-enabled skills that integrate within a cus-tomer’s IT applications and office systems.

Amazon is making it easy for other retailers to leverage Alexa for Business through a starter kit that includes three Amazon Echo (second generation) devices for use in conference rooms; two Echo Dots (second generation) devices for controlling equipment in large conference rooms, and two Echo Show devices for desktop use, according to AWS.

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W.mark says:
Dec-11-2017 05:31 am

Hey Deena, Nice Post, There were some issues with Alex earlier , seems it getting update frequently and learning quicker than Ok google or Siri Cheers! Wislon AWS Managed Services Consultant

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: The fastest-loading sites on Black Friday were…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As consumers flocked online during Thanksgiving weekend, the top performing retailers ensured their sites could load within 2.4 seconds.

During Black Friday, the 10 best performing sites in the United States averaged 1.3 seconds to load on Black Friday, while the 10 worst performing U.S. sites averaged an extremely poor load time of 37.9 seconds, according to data from Apica, a company that monitors website and app performance among 100 leading retailers in the U.S. and UK, and 50 in Sweden.

The top 10 sites, in terms of best response time on Black Friday, were Rakuten (0.4), Ray-Ban (0.4), Rue La La (0.4), Nike (0.5), Foot Locker (0.8), overstock.com (0.8), GameStop (1.4), Apple (2.4), Google Shopping Search (2.4) and L Brands (2.6). These same brands were in the top 10 for Cyber Monday response times, data revealed.

In the U.S., only 34% of companies were able to load sites within a 10-second window on Black Friday, while 66% failed to achieve this goal. Meanwhile, four out of 10 potential consumers are not willing to wait more than 10 seconds for a site to load before looking to a competitor.

Faster load times are also critical to driving sales. For example, Google calculated that if its search results slowed by just 0.4 seconds, they could lose 8 million searches a day — meaning they’d serve up millions fewer advertisements. This is why their “top 10” search time of 2.4 seconds is so critical, according to the data.

Eager not to lose out on these sales, some companies stepped up their e-commerce game. For example, Nike brought site load time from 13.6 seconds to 0.5 seconds. Other major retailers, like Home Shopping Network (HSN) and Walmart have shown major improvements in load time, a 72.7-second decrease and a 14.2-second drop, respectively. This translates into more satisfied customers who are able to complete their online purchases easily and efficiently.

On Cyber Monday, Amazon was one of the most improved sites bringing load time from 29.2 seconds in 2016 to 12.7 seconds in 2017 – a 57% decrease in load time.

Some major sites had serious issues this year, such as Groupon, Macy’s, Williams-Sonoma and J. Crew all taking 30 seconds or more to load on Black Friday.

Interestingly, Amazon’s site loaded 2.1 seconds faster on Black Friday this year versus last – improving from 14.9 seconds to 12.8. The online giant calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost the company $1.6 billion in sales. If the converse is also true, Amazon could show gains of $3.36 billion from their faster load time, according to data.

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TECHNOLOGY

Home furnishings retailer gains visibility into the customer journey

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Crate and Barrel has found a way to improve customer engagement and the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns.

As the home furnishings retailer’s customers increasingly discover, browse and purchase merchandise online, in catalogs and in-store, the retailer knew it needed to make the shopping experience personal and frictionless. This can be a difficult task when channels do not always share data.

To solve the issue, Crate and Barrel partnered with Neustar to ensure it could identify consumers consistently cross-channel and cross-device. Neustar provides a framework that links customer transactions and engagements back to a household and individual persistent ID that can be used across channels. This will give Crate and Barrel a unified view of the customer on one single platform, eliminating the data gaps inherent in customer intelligence.

By linking Crate and Barrel’s rich first-party data (such as email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers) to the Neustar OneID system, the platform continuously corroborates, verifies and appends missing information across customer records. This will give the retailer a comprehensive, complete view of the customer.

Additionally, OneID facilitates the capture of cross-device digital interactions and, using hashed identifiers, enables a single holistic, connected view of the customer. The solution will also identify gaps in CRM data, such as which households or individuals have recently moved homes. This data will allow Crate and Barrel to create tailored marketing campaigns focused on a unique segment of movers.

Using a design approach, the software protects customer privacy. Online and offline signals are hashed and securely segregated in order to inform activation without compromising user privacy.

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