Microsoft and its partners have debuted a range of Microsoft Windows touch-first experiences for assisted sales capabilities, as well as mobile devices and apps that can be used to improve a customer’s in-store experience at National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show.
The show, which is taking place from 12-15 January in New York, has highlighted the proliferation of new mobile devices in stores to facilitate assisted selling, mPOS solutions and a more connected experience.
Some examples of smart retailers who have developed Microsoft technology-based solutions to connect the back-office, the storefront and the individual consumer experience in new ways include:
Connected fitting room
Microsoft, Accenture and Avanade have developed a connected fitting room that will be showcased for the first time at NRF. When a customer enters a connected fitting room carrying RFID-tagged garments, the solution automatically recognises the items and displays them graphically on a Windows Embedded 8 powered touchscreen. The user can then select a different size, style, or colour, as well as browse and request related recommendations, all of which will be sent to a smartphone carried by one of the store associates working on the ship floor.
The solution also collects anonymous data from all visits in a Microsoft SQL Server database. By using a combination of Accenture analytics and Microsoft business intelligence tools, the data can be analysed to indicate important information such as the average time customers spend in the fitting room, how many items are brought in, or store associate response times. The store manager accesses and takes action on the information through a solution dashboard on a tablet or laptop.
Scandinavian fashion retailer MQ Retail has deployed Microsoft Surface Pro devices to enable customers to try on an item in store and then order it in a certain colour or size for next day delivery. Feedback from pilot stores indicated the service has positively impacted on sales and also improved supply chain and inventory management.
Hire car provider Avis supplies its retail employees with wireless mobile devices and has recently developed a Windows ‘Select & Go’ app. The app enables customers to select, upgrade and check out cars whether they are in the shop, or in the rental lot, improving efficiency. Avis also uses the technology to check people back in and offer a mobile POS for quicker, more convenient service.
Rooms to Go
The company’s sales associates use a line-of-business Windows 8 app called MiRTG on tablets to increase mobility. The touch-enabled app runs on Dell Latitude 10 tablets and allows sales associates are able to source information and answer questions when talking to the customer on the shop floor.
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
By using Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise platform on Lenovo ThinkCentre All-In-One PCs to power its popular Link@Sheraton kiosks in hotel lobbies, the company has improved its guest experience. The touch-enabled kiosks provide internet access and custom Sheraton content, while the Windows 8 platform enables Sheraton to offer guests relevant, timely content on both PCs and mobile devices in different venues around the hotel. Following the success of the kiosks, Sheraton is to deploy Lenovo ThinkPad 2 tablets in other areas of the hotels.
Many Microsoft partners are also developing smart retail solutions to create consistent customer experiences and offer enhances services using Microsoft technology.
Hospitality and retail technology solutions provider Micros is collaborating with Microsoft, Dell and Intel to develop customisable POS solutions built on Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro. The firm will also work to make its software suite available on Windows 8, which includes Windows Embedded 8.
Razorfish Emerging Experiences
The company’s 5D Retail Platform connects to a variety of devices, providing store associates with contextualised tools, which helps to drive product engagement, create a portable shopping experience and actively engage the customers.
After joining Microsoft’s Designed for Surface third party development scheme, the global payments technology provider will offer its customers a suite of secure and flexible mPOS solutions that are integrated into a single Surface solution for their stores.
MagTek’s solutions provide organisations with secure and efficient electronic payment and identification transactions. The company has joined Microsoft’s Designed for Surface programme, enabling it to develop mobile readers for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, as well as magstripe cards that support the Surface tablet. MagTek’s uDynamo, BulleT and DynaPro Mini readers for mobile and the DynaPro and Dynamag countertop readers will ultimately become a part of this Surface retail solution.
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