Apparel retailer, Blue Illusion is one of the first Australian retailers trialling iPads in-store to enhance the customer experience and integrate omni-channel shopping. This move follows similar introductions in the US and European markets.
Retail experts have labelled 2012 the year for mobile and tablet retailing, and local players are following suit with a number of innovative measures being implemented across the channels to integrate modern technology into the shopping experience.
French-inspired apparel retailer, Blue Illusion has begun a trial in a number of its metro Melbourne stores to implement iPads in-store. Estar Online’s Matt Thomas, who assists Blue Illusion with its e-commerce platform and online retail solutions, says as far as the company is aware “very few retailers are doing mobile POS at a significant level in Australasia currently”.
“Blue Illusion has just begun trailing iPads to enhance the in-store experience for their customers,” he says.
The iPad has set the standard for usability and customer experience, placing immense pressure on the entire tablet sector across applications, features and functions. Retailers are equally under the gun, with a consumer-driven mandate to provide innovative and seamless mobile POS experiences.
For commercial, in-store use, the iPad relies on wireless networks and complementary peripherals, including handheld printers, magnetic stripe credit/smartcard swipers, and interactive kiosks to create the foundation of an mPOS model. The integration gives consumers a more efficient transaction process and seamless omni-channel integration, where iPads work to marry up online stores, multichannel inventory offerings and complete point-of-sale transactions.
“Providing additional styling advice , giving their customers the option of home delivery and providing access to the entire inventory network are key goals of the Blue Illusion program. These devices help retailers to ‘always make the sale’ – accessing inventory from throughout the whole business. For example, if an item is not in stock at a particular store, customers can be directed to another store to purchase, or have the item delivered to them. In addition, these devices can leverage content to improve the in-store shopping experience and drive average order value by allowing store staff to share with customers reviews of products they are looking at, while they are in-store,” Thomas shares.
The benefits of using mobile POS devices in-store are obvious – enabling store staff to be ‘mobile’ and interact with the customers wherever they are in the stores. Sales assistants are not fixed to the checkout and it encourages greater interaction between staff and customers.
Overseas, the mPOS trend is well underway with retailers like Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, Sephora, The Home Depot, GUESS and Benjamin Moore among the international brands that have developed or tested iPad apps and/or implemented iPad use on the sales floor. Urban Outfitters is reportedly saying goodbye to traditional cash registers with plans to replace all of its stores with iPod and iPad devices. Power Retail also reported on UK department store, Debenhams trailing iPad kiosks last year. On top of this activity, Forrester Research’s Why Tablet Commerce May Trump Mobile Commerce study has found that the average US retailer is currently investing approximately $14,000 in tablet commerce tools. We also reported last year that shoppers prefer tablets for browsing or buying over smartphones, according to Ability Commerce.
All of this attention is certainly a sign of the retail tablet times.