Sephora tops 2012 Mobile IQ Study

Women aren't the only ones paying close attention to Sephora these days. A very well crafted report from NYU's Stern School of Business ranks the cosmetics retailer as the most mobile compoetent brand of 2011. And for good reason.


Sephora's mobile competence, specifically with its mobile site and apps optimized for both iPhone and iPad, earned it a MOBIILE IQ of 164, well ahead of second and third place finishers: Nordstrom and Macy's.  100 Luxury brands and retailers were analyzed then ranked for their talents across all major mobile shopping platforms from iPad apps to mobile sites; m-commerce to e-mail.

In-store interactive experiences, while not specifically measured, were frequently mentioned.

This 40-page report, L2 Prestige 100 Mobile IQ, is intensely dense, yet incredibly readable.  With a dozen case studies and twice as many comparitive charts, it'll take more than a whole lunch break to devour it all. In the mean time, here are five key findings to tide you over:

1. Only 52 of the 100 brands studied have developed both an app and a mobile site.

2. Fewer than 25% have m-commerce enabled apps.

3. 30% still haven't developed their first mobile app.

4. 33% have yet to optimize their web site for mobile.

5. 16% still have no mobile strategy at all.

Download the full report here.

Tomorrow (1/19/12) @ NYU, L2's Maureen Mullen and Colin Gilbert will be sharing insights from the report at a special Mobile Clinic for brand and retail professionals.



Analytics are the are the real needle-mover.

One of the most powerful rewards of an in-store tablet app is analytics. In fact, many of our customers see the intelligence gained from an in-store iPad system as the largest element of a rapid ROI.


There are a few ways to slice analytics. They can be organized in hierarchy in terms of depth. These are more commonly called key performance indicators (KPIs) and we like to rate them as primary, secondary and forensic. Their names are fairly self-explanatory with KPIs like units per transaction and dollars per transaction being primary. A specific example of secondary analytics using our Smart Room fitting room system is items tried on, but not purchased. Trends in this area can make a dynamic difference with future purchasing and immediate in-store pricing and marketing decisions. At the other end of the continuum are forensic analytics, which are almost always unique to a particular retailer. There are not universal examples since these are so unique to each retailer, but they will be specific to a current campaign or initiative. They might also be monitoring an exact product to an exact demographic integrated with customer loyalty.

Another way we categorize analytics are specific to the use of the in-store iPad system. These are behavioral and transactional. Behavioral analytics tell us how the user (shopper, associate or both) is interacting with the iPad. We can learn where they are spending most of their time and what the exits points are in the app. Transactional analytics are either pulled from the e-commerce or POS integration or a simulated transaction that can lead to conclusions when cross-referenced with transactional reports.

Lastly, an important measurable to ensure the success of a successful in-store iPad system is associate surveys. All the technology in the World will not be worth a penny if it is comfortable for the associates and shoppers. In many ways, this is the most important. How many times have you been in a department or grocery store and experienced the associates complaining about the fancy new technology that makes their jobs harder? For me it is a weekly occurrence.

For Kokley, in-store iPad solutions are not entertainment. They are not to keep the spouse busy while the their husband or wife shops. Our solutions are “needle-movers”. They produce dynamic results and a rapid return on investment. Analytics are a major ingredient in the process.



Retail's New Year's Resolution: Getting Physically Fit

Now that the holiday shopping season is over, all the buzz is about how online and mobile shopping have boomed ... and how sales at physical stores are trailing way behind.  Yes, percentage-wise, the digital duo are doing better (15% growth over 2010) than brick and mortar at only 4% growth, but seriously folks, my money is still on in-store.

The reality is that for every digital dollar spent last month, 12 dollars were handed over to a living, breathing sales associate.  $469 billion vs. $37.6 billion. 

Point being, there's room at the table for everyone: Online, mobile, and in-store.  But the master of the house is still ... and will always be ... the brick and mortar store.  However, there's much the old man can learn from from the young ones in the room. Savvy consumers love to use their smart phones and tablets while shopping. That's a given. 3 out of 4 did so while standing inside an actual store. But there's nothing stopping the savvy retailer from taking the best aspects of online and mobile commerce and building that right into the in-store experience.  Then, you'll truly have the best of both worlds:  Tech-enabled shopping and the instant gratification of walking away with your purchase in hand.

That's where iPads and tablets come in.  And Kokley.  2012 is not only the Year of the Dragon, but the year when iPads will come into their own as in-store shopping assistants.  I look forward to looking back at 2012 and reflecting on how brick and mortar retailers have upped their web game to not only match, but surpass, the digital experience.  Holiday 2012 sales will certainly be one of the metrics. Care to suggest any others?



The unsung hero of a complete iPad system.

The integration of hardware and software is important to a complete in-store iPad solution, but I give my unsung hero award to hardware. The obvious is the device. Less obvious is the hardware supporting the architecture. But the real hero is the iPad docking hardware.

Concepts come easy. Well built, refined, smoothly executed and stable concepts are far less common. Top that with concepts that attract and engage the shopper to increase sales, and you are now talking about a rare species. Regardless, we are talking about the app and its corresponding integration and supporting architecture. What about the system beyond the app? 

For a complete system, you need the support of hardware, and of course, an ongoing management system. For this post, I am going to focus on the docking system (again) as the unsung hero.

For a current project, we are sourcing the Pad Loc dock from Rose Displays. Let me the top four reasons why a good dock is so important, if not vital to the longevity of an in-store iPad system:

Security: The iPad will have a safe home when not in the hands of a shopper or associate. 

Power: The iPad will be charging when not in the line of duty.

Durability: The docking system will minimize time when damage can occur.

Longevity: The 30 pin connector (the devices Achilles heal) will be perfectly aligned every time the connection is made, extending the connection's life exponentially.

The list is much longer, but these are the top reasons a good docking system is imperative hardware. Without a system like Pad Loc, there will be numerous thefts, a lot of damage and unnecessary wear and tear on the device. Don’t cut your system short on non retail ready hardware. It will cost you a bundle. 



Unleashing iPads with power.

Kokley thinks a lot about power and cord management. These are details make hardware a clean aspect of an iPad system. It can’t look like an afterthought.

iPad systems create powerful shopper experiences. Powering the devices must be blind to the users – it just has to work. Fortunately, we see an increase in the use of induction. IPads will be free to roam within moderate sized-retail floors and departments within larger stores.  Utilizing RFID and Bluetooth theft deterrent systems, shoppers will be handed the responsibility of moving around the floor with the iPad. Geo-fencing also has a long list of applications in this area.

Back to power, we are seeing Launchport bring induction at a reasonable price into the home. Retail-ready versions of induction charging systems are certainly in the works by a few companies. Taking wireless charging a step further, check out the gang at WiTricity. Their technology uses magnetic resonators to transfer power over large distances via magnetic near-field. In other words, you can power a device over a distance without wires AND without cooking any living objects that walk through the field. At this point, it is expensive to use in a scaleable retail application, but this will be the future of powering and charging devices soon enough. Take a look:



We have thought about this stuff!

As Kokley officially launches it’s blog, I am particularly excited about our “insights” section. This is where we get to offer our expertise to anyone who will listen. I say this with a bit of sarcasm and a bit of confidence knowing that we have some of the brightest bulbs out there. The Kokley team and our partners have worked around the globe with major brands and led our niche with innovative solutions. I hesitate from calling what we do an industry, because it is truly a specialty.

Kokley does not develop mobile apps; we develop in-store apps. We consider integrated hardware and software solutions to create experiences. We focus on topics such as shopper behavior and confidence. Our goals go beyond ROI, as we benchmark KPIs like DPC, UPC and conversion ratios. We provide an end-to-end solution called Kokley Complete. Our ongoing system management platform, Kokley Connect, allows on demand control of thousands of iPads globally. Ultimately, we have brought together a team that turns an interdisciplinary process into an integrated solution. We are not a fit for every need, but we are a needle-mover when the chemistry is right. 



One highlight from the toddler year

Thinking back on 2011, I recall a year where iPads became more common in stores. If 2010 was the year when iPads where in their infancy as in-store devices, 2011 was the toddler years. It was a time when I was happy to see more and more stores tap into the power of the iPad in brick and mortar, but it was also a bit frustrating to see so many retailers implement iPads in such an underutilized way.

One of the highlights was JB Brown’s team at Nordstom Innovation Lab. It is worth checking out their “flash build” video on You Tube. It is almost seven minutes long, but it is worth the time. In some ways it is less exciting that they developed an iPad app in real time and more energizing to see their approach. The app is one small piece of the puzzle when implementing an iPad system in-store, but the video is still inspirational. Check it out:



Award-Winning Professor Lauds iPad POS Systems at Stacked

 Award Winning Professor Lauds iPad POS Systems at Stacked

When Terri Griffith talks about technology and innovation, like the iPad POS Systems, in the workplace, people listen. A Professor of Management at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, Griffith teaches MBA courses in Organizational Analysis and Design, Technology and Innovation Management, and Managing Innovation and Change to working professionals in Silicon Valley. Her CV is 15 pages long; in the past decade alone, she has received 11 separate awards. Her blog, “Technology and Organizations” is on a number of Top lists and her new book, The Plugged-In Manager, is due out next month.

But when Professor Griffith, visited Stacked: food well built in Torrance, California, last Friday, she was not there in as a professor, researcher, or consultant; she was not there as an expert, advisor, or author; in fact, she was not there in any professional capacity. She and her brother, Michael (Associate Director of BioCommunications at the Arizona Health Sciences Center), came to join their mom for an impromptu lunch. Griffith says her mother had been to Stacked a number of times before and had enjoyed both the food and the dining experience; she knew both Terri and Michael, who Professor Griffith describes as a “part-time application developer and full-time iPad strategist,” would love the iPad POS Systems that Stacked employs.

As you may recall from two of our earlier blog posts (see “Restaurants Worldwide Dabbling with iPad Digital Menus for Ordering” and “USA Today Reports iPad Digital Menus Replacing Waiters”) and our previous article, “Cornell Study: iPad Restaurant Menu Delivers What Customers Want Most,” Stacked’s fast-casual-plus concept centers around the iPad POS Systems, which gives their customers control over both what and when they order and how and when they pay — freeing their staff to focus on customer service and hospitality – a focus reinforced by giving servers the title, “concierge.” As a result, the iPad POS Systems enables Stacked to provide a dining experience on par with the full-service segment, while maintaining a price structure competitive with the fast-casual segment.

Griffith took the opportunity to speak with one of Stacked’s concierges. The concierge told Griffith the iPad POS Systems made the ordering process smoother for both guests and staff. The iPad POS System, she said, alleviated servers’ concerns that they would not hear an order correctly; it also enables guests to call the server to the table, if they need any assistance.

So, what does the award-winning Management Professor think of the use of the iPad POS Systems in fast-casual restaurants like Stacked?

Overall, Griffith found the iPad POS System to be both “intuitive” and “fun.” She especially liked the fact that with the iPad POS Systems, a customer knows how much their order will cost, before they place it, and can readily see how adding or removing a topping impacts that cost; she also was impressed with the way the iPad POS Systems not only lets customers choose to split the bill, but gives them control over how they wish to do that.

Professor Griffith says the iPad POS System is a highly desirable approach” that enhances the dining experience; she absolutely recommends it for fast-casual or quick-service restaurants (QSR). “The power of the [iPad POS Systems].” she says, “is in the control it gives to the customer and the process it creates with the staff.”

Griffith is hoping Stacked will soon open a location in Silicon Valley with its iPad POS Systems in place.




All About the iPad

By Daniel Smith

The hot new tech gadget has many quick-service insiders exploring its potential uses, from marketing to point-of-sale solutions.

The iPad provides the restaurant industry with new ideas for incorporating more

When the iPad was introduced in late January, the tech world buzzed about the gadget’s possibilities and visionary applications. Two of Apple’s other signature products, the iPod and iPhone, sparked such revolutionary momentum that creative minds swirled with ideas on how the iPad, a larger, more comprehensive touch-screen device, might function in a world increasingly clamoring for portable and wireless.

Restaurant-industry types are beginning to let their imaginations wander as well. Many are eager to investigate how the iPad, one of the most anticipated devices in years and leader of the impending tablet rush, could improve restaurant systems, operations, margins, or efficiencies in the back or front of the house.

“The iPad is incredibly new, but there’s no question it’s going to help,” says Patrick Eldon, CEO of orderTalk Inc., a Texas-based provider of online ordering for quick-service chains like Jason’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s. “The technology is present and consumers are increasingly expecting these types of opportunities.”

Certainly, the iPad possesses some restaurant-friendly features. The touch-screen device runs more than 140,000 apps and has a washable screen, stand-up dock, and built-in WiFi connection. In addition, the iPad’s $499 starting price is competitive with many handheld POS units, and it boasts strong ease of use; a 9.7-inch, LED-backlit display; up to 10 hours of battery life; and the immeasurable yet unquestionable “It” factor. Launched in the U.S. on April 3, the iPad sold 300,000 units on its first day and more than 2 million in its first 60 days.

Cupertino, California–based Apple leans heavily on app developers across the country to enhance its device with an inventive energy that thrusts the product down new paths and into a vast array of industries, including the restaurant sector. In only a matter of years, the iPhone integrated a host of ordering and marketing capabilities and credit card payment apps. Many hold out similar—if not even more ambitious—hope for the iPad.

Most see the iPad’s greatest potential as a portable POS device. One national quick-service chain is testing the iPad as an order-taking device, thereby offering the possibility of tableside ordering and payment service to the quick-serve arena, a rare but customer-friendly feature. A smaller concept, 4food, included iPads as an order-taking device when it opened its first of 11 locations in New York in August.

“Customers and even staff are no longer limited to having to walk to a mounted system to get things done,” says Steven Wei of ChompStack, a Los Angeles company that builds software for restaurants. “Having the freedom to move around opens up a range of opportunities.”

Servers can walk around the dining room, input orders, and collect payment from individual customers. The food can be delivered directly to the table much as it is in many fast-casual establishments already.

“If you want to take this mobile solution and maximize its effectiveness, then you may need to change the way you do business,” says Sly Glass, director of sales for POS provider Hospitality Solutions International, which showcased its iPad POS system at May’s National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago. 

“But at the minimum,” Glass says, “restaurants can easily use the iPad as a line-busting tool to create efficiencies between ordering and payment during high traffic.” 

Others see promise in the iPad as an interactive, paperless menu. Though the up-front menuboard style of quick service makes many question the industry’s ability to integrate the iPad as a menu, fine-dining establishments are already beginning to incorporate it.

Mundo Global Tapas, a posh eatery in Sydney, Australia, introduced its iPad menu to customers in June. A custom-made app allows diners to browse the virtual pages of the restaurant’s menu, peruse dish images, read tasting notes, and then send their order into the kitchen. The iPad menu also suggests wine pairings for dishes and maintains stock levels, eliminating sold-out items from the on-screen menu. 

“It is unlikely the iPad will gain traction as a menu ordering system in [quick service],” says restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, who says the concept of iPad kiosks for quick serves is more reasonable. “Kiosks are great tools for providing menu information, such as nutrition, serving as a portal for submitting applications electronically at the unit level, and also a wide range of other creative in-store marketing uses.”

Indeed, many tout the iPad’s potential as a marketing tool, specifically in tandem with mobile ordering. Customers placing an order become registered users, giving operators a valuable data-mining tool. By gathering personal info on customers, restaurants can produce more targeted marketing messages. The same device can then offer guest surveys as well.

“At the moment, restaurants largely operate in the dark,” orderTalk’s Eldon says. “As you get to know customers, you’ll not only understand your own business better, but be able to better produce products to their liking.”

Others see promise for the iPad as a portable inventory device. Instead of restaurant staffers having to manually record product levels or scan bar codes, the iPad’s portability allows team members to directly record inventory data into a restaurant’s tracking system.

One South Carolina–based company is even testing an iPad hiring system for employees. The new PeopleMatter technology allows potential crew members to input their employment history, available work schedule, and even past military experience so chains can take advantage of the Worker’s Opportunity Tax Credit. All the information is securely stored, saving companies the headache of keeping track of archived I-9 forms.

But the question remains whether or not the iPad is realistic for the quick-service industry.

Unlike many retail-hardened POS terminals, an over-the-counter consumer device such as the iPad has not been tested to withstand a restaurant’s frenzied atmosphere, which will most certainly include drops and spills.

Furthermore, the iPad’s wireless signal can easily get tossed off track given the range of frequency waves that can infiltrate an establishment. Dropped connectivity can delay order taking and credit-card processing, two issues that tend to irk customers.

“I don’t know if the iPad specifically is the solution, but I do think the device opens the door for all different types of tablets that might better integrate into the restaurant setting,” ChompStack’s Wei says. “Even if the iPad won’t be used, others will.”



WGSN evaluates the pilot stages of using iPads in-store and analyses current best practice for retailers.

By Allyson Rees, WGSN

Most mass retailers have developed iPad applications that allow users to tap into special promotions, shop online and view exclusive content, but now they are bringing iPad technology in-store

The iPad interest begins at the top and trickles down to store level, with CEOs demanding their brands overhaul technology. Harlan Eplan, vice-president of business development at Global Bay Mobile Technologies, one of the companies pioneering in-store iPad technology, told WGSN: "Executives want iPads, and that helps drive adoption for the next wave.”

Below, WGSN outlines the four main ways that iPads are being used at retail, which brands are using them and why they are working for their market


Self-service kiosks

Who is using it: Brands like City Sports and Sephora's Make Up For Ever counter are enabling customers to take a hands-on approach at fixed kiosks, where they can unlock content like catalogues, video and games. iPads can also run ad loops, help guide customers to purchase through interactive quizzes and push shoppers to sign up for customer rewards.

Why it works: Expect to see self-service kiosks at big-box stores as a simple, economical way to create a memorable customer experience. At Make Up For Ever, shoppers can access face charts, browse cosmetic combinations and even upload their own photo for a digital makeover.

"We see these types of kiosks as a low hanging fruit," says Eplan. "They are very cheap  - about $700 for the whole thing - compared to building a entirely new, traditional kiosk box."

Self-service kiosks also work for larger stores because their content is stored locally and updated daily on the iPad, so retailers don't need to worry about the whole store being outfitted for wifi.

Assisted Selling

Who is using it: High-end and luxury retailers like Burberry, Gucci and Tourneau are equipping sales associates with iPads to assist in personal shopping. After viewing the latest runway collection on the iPad, Burberry customers can instantly purchase their favourite looks.

Why it works: This model helps sales associates suggestively sell to clients and create whole looks. Since customer purchase history can be stored in the iPad, sales associates can help clients develop their personal style and build out their wardrobe.

iPads can also help customers find merchandise that has sold out or is only available online. "If you are working with a customer, and they want an apparel item that’s not available in the store, this is a way to look directly at the inventory system," says Eplan. "It allows them to quickly find that item at a distribution centre that can be shipped directly to the customer."

Associates can also help customers with comparison shopping. For example, JCPenney is using the tablets at their jewellery counters so that clients can sift though and compare various cuts, gem styles and prices.

Customer Relationship Management

Who is using it: Department stores like Nordstrom and JCPenney are putting iPads at the register and at the hands of sales associates, so customers can sign up for email alerts or special promotions.

Retailers can easily keep track of how often their customers are shopping, as well as keep shoppers in the know about promotions they are eligible for, as soon as they walk in the store.

Why it works:  Customer-specific information like credit-card deals and special sales are usually kept at the register, but now this information can be much more useful to sales associates. "This is taking the information that resided in the back-end system and making it available on the store floor,” says Eplan.

For example, if a customer is debating whether to purchase an item because it is too expensive, a sales associate can pull up their customer information and inform them of a 20 per cent loyalty-card discount.


Who is using it: Footwear and active brands like Converse and Puma are pioneering iPads as a customisation tool, allowing shoppers to create their own products with various colours and graphics.

Speciality gift and jewellery stores are also getting on the customisation bandwagon. Things Remembered, an Ohio-based retailer that specializes in personalised gifts and operates about 600 locations nationwide has been testing iPads in 12 stores since November of 2010. Shoppers can create messages, print them out and personalise merchandise.

Why it works: Amy Myers, vice-president of creative services of Things Remembered told WGSN that customers love the iPad message creation because "it's modern, convenient and user friendly". The customisation technology makes customers feel like they are apart of the design process and allows them a personal, hand-on user experience.

Point of Sale

Taking cues from the Apple Store, several retailers and restaurants are using iPads to speed up or eliminate lines at the register. Nordstrom recently announced its goal to have 5,000 associate-run mobile checkout devices in 116 of their stores by July, and the department store has been testing the initiative in its Seattle and Bellevue Square stores.

Eplan also told WGSN about a new ultra high-end retailer opening soon in New York City. "They want a very sleek, rich customer experience, so they entire point of sale will be on an iPad as opposed to a fixed terminal," he said.



IPads should be top priority for retailers: Charming Shoppes exec

By Chantal Tode

BOSTON – A Charming Shoppes executive at’s Annual Summit said that iPads are the single most important thing retailers should be focusing on.

During the “5 Lessons Learned in 15 Years of Cross-Channel Shopping” session, the executive addressed best practices for retailers. One of these included the need to make it easy for customers to shop however they want to.

“IPads matter a lot,” said Bill Bass, president of direct for Charming Shoppes, Philadelphia. “The shopping experience on an iPad is materially better than on a Web site.

“I have come to believe that this is the single most important thing going forward,” he said.

The iPad factor
Charming Shoppes does not currently have an iPad strategy but is closely looking at the space.

The importance of iPads derives not only from the device’s interactivity but from the continued shift toward online shopping.

“We are not doing anything with iPads right now but we are going to start right away,” Mr. Bass said. “Thirty percent of store-based sales will shift online.

“This changes store economics cataclysmically,” he said. “The economics for the overall corporation is better.”

While iPads are important for retailers, smartphones may not play as big a role.

“The form factor is too small,” Mr. Bass said. “If you’re a restaurant or Fandango, you definitely need a smarpthone.

“It really depends on the category for smartphones but iPads matter to everybody,” he said.

While mobile devices such as tablets provide a clear value for retailers, it is still unclear how much value social media brings to the table.

“Social media matters for services but not for sales,” Mr. Bass said. “No one has cracked the code on what you need to do here.

“I’ve never seen anybody make money from Facebook selling stuff,” he said. “In the long term, sales may matter a little.”

Retailers must try to not get distracted by some of the newer technology and services that are getting talked up unless they can provide a real value.

For example, many retailers and brand marketers are enthusiastic about foursquare right now.

“With foursquare, people are saying, ‘Hey, we need to be there, everybody is going to be doing it,’” Mr. Bass said. “But, when you really look at what causes a Web site to win, it is search and fast checkout – that are the things that makes customers’ lives easier.

“Foursquare does not make people’s lives easier,” he said.

 QR codes are another possible distraction.

 “I personally have never seen anybody use a QR code,” Mr. Bass said.

 “QR codes are an invention of the print advertising industry to try to make themselves seem relevant,” he said.

 The best strategies help retailers improve the shopping experience and drive sales.

 What makes a great ecommerce site great is ease of use around search and quick checkout.

 “The rhythms and dynamics of the Internet are different than bricks-and-mortar stores,” Mr. Bass said. “Customers really like speed and convenience – pretty pictures don’t get them enthusiastic.

 “You want to make it easy for customers to shop however they want to shop,” he said.



Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s test mobile devices in-store to increase sales


Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores are testing mobile devices in select merchandise areas to engage customers with products and assist them with their purchase decisions.

This fall approximately 350 stores will be using tablets to help customers research and select skin care products at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s Clinique counters. For shoes, Bloomingdale’s will be using mobile devices in five stores to help customers view and shop from a variety of styles and colors, including products at other Bloomingdale’s stores.

“Tablets [are something] new for us,” said Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications and external affairs at Macy’s, Cincinnati, OH.

“The Clinique counters are [equipped] with tablets and now customers can use them to select products and find out what skin care treatment is right for them,” he said.

Macy’s operates about 850 department stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico under the names of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, as well as the and Web sites.

Mobile initiative
In addition to testing tablets at Clinique and shoe departments, Macy’s is also testing mobile devices in its fine jewelry departments.

Twenty-five Macy’s stores are beginning to use tablets to demonstrate product features and offer coordinating jewelry pieces that may not be available in that particular location.

In early October, Macy’s will begin testing Beauty Spot, a new cosmetics concept that lets customers search and select products from various product categories across multiple brands from a custom-designed kiosk to be located prominently on the selling floor.

A dedicated Beauty Spot concierge associate will be available to assist customers and process credit card transactions using a hand-held mobile device.

Beauty Spot will be tested in four Macy’s stores in New Jersey, Texas and Virginia.

In addition, six Macy’s stores in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas will test Beauty Spot without touch screens.

“Beauty Spot is a great way for a customer to compare and contrast products,” Mr. Sluzewski said.

More enhancements
Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are also enhancing their service and convenience by replacing signature pads at all 50,000 of its point-of-sale terminals with new customer response units developed by Verifone.

The rollout will be completed by fall 2012.

According to the company, the new customer response units enable it to test emerging transaction-processing technologies.

Among them is Google Wallet, a smartphone application currently being tested in 219 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores in five markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington.

Google Wallet lets customers tap, pay and save when they use their phone as their wallet.

Currently, Google Wallet is available on a limited basis to users of Android Nexus S 4G smartphones on the Sprint Network who are holders of certain Citi MasterCards.

“Mobile plays an important role in our strategy,” Mr. Sluzewski said.



64 iPads Panel Display at Saks 5th Avenue in New York

by  in Cool Things


I like a big display panel made up of lots of iPads as much a the next guy. Probably a bit more than the next guy in fact.

So I was happy to see an email from the fine folks at Gin Lane Media, who have designed and installed an ‘interactive iPad installation’ for magazine at the Saks 5th Avenue store in New York. It’s made up of 64 iPads (all iPad 2 models) and will feature live streaming content from – tweets and user-submitted photos that use the hashtag #StylelistAtSaks.

Stylelist and Saks are two main sponsors for this year’s Fashion Night Out (I assume that’s a big thing, not sure though as I’m more of an unfashionable night in type of guy) – and the iPad installation will be on display through September 19th to highlight the rebranding of Stylelist.



It’s always good to see the iPad is ‘in fashion’ when it comes to creative displays. It’s also cool to hear that Gin Lane Media is ‘always pushing into the space where fashion, technology, and Apple meet’ – and that iPads are heavily in use day to day at the agency as well.

Thanks to Ali Feinstein from Gin Lane for the heads-up on the installation, and to Sebastian Bean, the lead developer on the iPads installation, for taking some time to talk to me about the project.



Sainsbury's tests iPad-friendly shopping carts to attract tech-savvy audience

Posted By Chantal Tode on

Sainsbury's shopping carts revamped with iPad dock

British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s hopes to attract tech-savvy shoppers with shopping carts that boast a built-in iPad holder and speakers.

 The company is testing the shopping carts at a single location in Kensington, West London. The carts feature a sensor that sounds a warning beep if a shopper gets too close to another customer and a solar-powered battery.

“Some younger or richer shoppers are moving toward digital shopping lists and it may be designed to attract those tech-friendly demographics,” said Neil Mawston, England-based director of global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics.

“An iPad cart enables ‘shoppertainment’ for a customer and it helps to differentiate Sainsbury’s from competitors like Tesco,” he said.

Sainsbury’s is one of the largest supermarket chains in Britain.

In-store engagement
The shopping carts were developed by broadcaster Sky. IPad owners who are shopping in the Kensington store can use the docks to watch live sports or news via the broadcaster’s Sky Go service on their Apple tablets.

“Sky is using the iPad cart as an innovative marketing vehicle to promote its new live-sports service,” Mr. Mawston said.

The shopping carts could give supermarket brands a way to reach consumers when they are in the store and shopping.

The carts may also provide Sainsbury’s with a way to learn more about its shoppers in-store actions.

“Sainsbury’s may potentially wish to track for research the locations, movements and timings of its shoppers that presumably will stream the Sky broadcast over the in-store WiFi network,” Mr. Mawston said.

The primary audience for the high-tech shopping carts is likely to be young, well-to-do iPad owners, particularly males.

It is still unclear how other shoppers will react to the carts.

“Whether other shoppers will tolerate intrusive noises from the tablet’s speakers and the inevitable minor accidents caused by distracted cart-pushers remains to be seen,” Mr. Mawston said.

However, if the carts gain shopper approval, other retailers could follow suit.

“If the iPad cart opens up a fresh stream of advertising or cross-selling revenues without harming core shopping purchases, then we expect other retailers to do something similar,” Mr. Mawston said.

“But if shoppers get distracted by the tablet’s screen and they end up spending less on food and other goods, then we would expect the project to be quietly shelved — no pun intended,” he said.



New batch of Apple patents includes solar power, device orientation inventions

By Josh Ong

Published: 11:23 PM EST (08:23 PM PST)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple 16 patents on Tuesday, including filings related to solar power, methods for detecting and switching device orientation and a Cover Flow-like interface for editing video.

Solar power
U.S. Patent No. 8,004,113, entitled "Methods and apparatuses for operating devices with solar power," reflects Apple's continued interest in the alternative power source.

The filing specifically address "solar power tracking techniques," detailing an apparatus including a voltage converter coupled with a controller. Apple describes a method whereby the voltage converter monitors input from a solar power source to maintain the output voltage within a predetermined range. The patent contains technical details, such as formulas, for calculating the amount of power drawn from solar cells.

Possible devices that Apple suggests could be connected to the apparatus include notebooks, media players, cell phones, personal digital assistants, cameras and handheld computing devices.

The application was filed on Oct. 6, 2006. Credit for the invention goes to Wendell Sander, Daniel Warren and Aaron Leiba.

Apple solar power patent

Apple has been considering solar power for several years now. According to one report, both Apple and Samsung are "evaluating" the option for their consumer products, but high-efficiency solutions are not ready for mass production.

In January, the USPTO published an Apple patent application for an auxiliary solar cell that could be used as a backup power source for mobile devices. Apple has also looked into covering a device such as the iPod or iPhone with solar cells.

Device orientation
Apple on Tuesday was awarded one new patent, as well as a reissued patent, for methods for detecting the orientation of a device and changing the display accordingly. U.S. Patent No. 8,004,493 is entitled "Methods and systems for providing sensory information to devices and peripherals," while RE42639 is entitled "Apparatus and method for rotating the display orientation of a captured image."



Benefit Cosmetics tests iPad app in-store to educate shoppers on products

By Rimma Kats

Benefit Cosmetics is testing the efficacy of tablets in its boutiques and educating consumers about in-store services and products via the company’s new iPad in-store kiosk initiative.

The iPad app educates users about in-store services and products through videos, reviews and comparisons. Additionally, the app serves as an in-store shopping assistant and is not available for public download.

“This project is designed to test the efficacy of tablets in our U.S. boutiques, before rolling this out more broadly across counters and stores worldwide,” said Valerie Hoecke, vice president of digital experience and commerce at Benefit Cosmetics.

“We are definitely still evolving our tablet strategy,” she said. “But put simply, we believe that because of the Internet customers are fundamentally used to gathering and evaluating a lot of information as part of a purchase decision.

“We see them do it on their mobile phones in store sometimes, and we want to make the whole process as easy as possible.”

In-store experience
The in-store app lets consumers learn more about in-store offerings, search products and see what’s new.

Consumers can also browse and view ratings and reviews to see what other shoppers think of the products.

Additionally, the app lets consumers access tutorials, videos and product comparisons.

“We want to support our customer’s preferred shopping experience in as many ways as we can, wherever we can – this means PCs at home and at work, mobile on the go, tablets as a second screen at home or as a kiosk in-store,” Ms. Hoecke said.

“We know that in store customers can touch and feel our products in a way that converts really well,” she said. “Makeup is a fundamentally sensory experience, and women fall in love with Benefit in our stores.

“And we have great Beauty Advisors at our counters to help our customers try our products on and give them lessons.

Get the look
The app also lets consumers browse certain looks and see how they can achieve it themselves via Benefit’s products.

Shoppers can also view videos to learn more about the makeup.

“But some of the other information that informs their purchase decision, such as average ratings and reviews, 3rd party blogger reviews, awards won, seeing the product on different types of skin tones when gifting may be missing,” Ms. Hoecke said. “So we want our tablets to help support the in store purchase by providing some of that information.

“A big part of our business is beauty services, such as brow waxing, body wax, spray tans, and lash tinting,” she said. “If a customer is waiting for a service, we want to give her great entertainment and make it easy for her to wait.
When the app is not in use it reverts to full screen video mode and plays through our videos to draw our customers over.

“We are laser focused on digital as a key pillar of our success long term,” Ms. Hoecke said. “We have a relatively young, engaged audience that loves our products, and we have a really fun, approachable, funny and irreverent brand that is almost tailor-made for sharing via the Internet.

“We want to give our customers every opportunity to share the Benefit love – and increasingly we believe mobile will be the core winning platform for social activities,” she said.

“We are working on some plans to enrich this experience already. We wanted to start with something simple and learn what our customers choose to do and interact with, first. We also believe that there is huge power in location-based social activities in store, so that’s an area we will explore in the future.”



Wise Up, Retailers: Smartphones Aren't Going Away

Will Reese

Will Reese

Will Reese is a Ph.D. cultural anthropologist who leads the White Horse Digital Futures Group in Portland, Oregon. White Horse is a web marketing and strategy firm; its Digita... Read more


Rather than fearing in-aisle smartphone usage, retailers should embrace and support it. Only then will they eventually win back control of their stores.

I recently asked an audience of technology buffs how many of them used their smartphones to help them shop in physical retail stores. Over half of the hands shot up. Now for the surprise. “Those with your hands up, please keep them up if a salesperson has ever asked to help you to shop with your smartphone in any way.” All of the hands went down.

Their response mirrors a discrepancy that prevails more generally across the U.S. today (even among non-techies): Customers increasingly use smartphones in stores to help them shop, but the brick-and-mortar retailers are ignoring them.

We can’t go on like this much longer. For one thing, the retailers have no choice: In-aisle smartphone usage is here to stay. One in four Americans taps into the mobile Internet (or about 75 million, according to Forrester’s Melissa Parrish). That number is roughly equivalent to the population of the U.S. eastern seaboard. Most of them own smartphones, and the vast majority of them (84%, according to our own recent survey) use those devices to help them accomplish at least one kind of activity related to shopping, such as searching for product information, taking photos as memory aids, checking prices, or “checking-in” to a location-based service. Barcode scanning and QR, or Quick Response, code scanning is not only popular but sticky: 85% of people we surveyed use their phones to scan products today at least as often as when they first tried it out.

So if there is no chance at all that this is all going to blow over, how come more brick-and-mortar retailers aren’t exploiting this new medium -- say, to drive sales? In most cases because they are doing their best to clamber out of the recession: managing prices, inventory and costs, as consumers trade down and buy cheaper. In this context, mobile technology plays into their worst fears: “scan and scram,” as the practice is rather dismally known. Or as a smartphone shopper in our observational field research described his personal experience, “You feel like you’re kind of cheating the store by doing one of these [holds up phone as if to scan a barcode]. Because it’s as if you’re going to hold [the product], and look at it, but not buy it here.”

So consumers and retailers are at odds on the whole subject of in-aisle smartphone shopping: with consumers loving it, wanting it, needing it, and retailers, by and large, hesitating to support it.

Even the most innovative retailers like Best Buy, which stakes brand equity on the success of its in-aisle mobile experience, still provide almost no physical support for it. Its QR code hangtag system, for instance, is progressive. Scan a product code with your phone, and you get instant product reviews and other detailed information. But as a whole, from a customer experience perspective, it’s far too tentative. There are no on-shelf instructions (e.g., how to use a QR code, how to distinguish a UPC code from an internal company barcode); no in-store signage about the Best Buy mobile app; and little, if any, staff advocacy.

Most crucially, an attitude of explicit support for mobile shopping does not shape store culture among any brick-and-mortar retailers, including Best Buy. In its absence, a large swath of consumers is able to imagine that the relationship with retailers is not just ethically ambiguous but positively adversarial. Over a third of in-aisle smartphone users we polled said they felt at least somewhat “self-conscious” about scanning a barcode or QR code with a salesperson nearby.

Fortunately, we know pretty much how this is all going to turn out. Think back to where social media was only in 2006, when photos circulated on the Internet of a Dell laptop ablaze after exploding at a conference in Osaka, Japan. Dell recalled the Sony-made batteries but was initially slow to respond to angry bloggers. Then it formed a social media team, which found that if they singled out influential blogs and commented on negative posts with helpful links to the recall site, the grateful blog owners took on the rest of the damage control for them, evangelizing Dell’s good deeds to their own flock of readers on Dell’s behalf.

Then, as now, you’ve got to go with the flow. Dell responded effectively only because it understood that the days of its monolithic control over its messaging was over. Similarly, for retailers, the only way out, is through. They will eventually win back their aisles, but only when they can accept that they no longer fully control them. At that point, the current “moral discomfort” of both retailers and smartphone-equipped customers will fade into the past: growing pains of a new practice for which norms have not been agreed upon.

This is a future that innovative retailers should want to embrace now, rather than later. Because with change, comes opportunity. Those who get in the game today can differentiate themselves, powerfully, by positive association with the new technology. Simply asking, “Did you know you can use your smartphone to help you shop here today?” will go a long way to set the relationship back on the right path. One of the great brand-building moments of the next decade is available, right now, to the first company who can design a place that shouts “smartphones welcome here.” The chance will not come again.



The Birth of the iRestaurant

Running a restaurant has never been easier, thanks to the iPad. De Santos is the first in New York to run its restaurant completely off Apple's tablets.

At De Santos, servers have ditched their scratch paper in favor of iPads—and diners are delighted. (Click image to see the ordering system in use.)

At De Santos, the high-end restaurant serving up Italian-American fare in the West Village for the better part of three years, waiters buzz around armed with sleek iPad 2 tablets, swiftly taking orders and swiping credit cards on the devices.

Behold, the future of restaurants.

De Santos officially unveiled its new system August 1, thus earning the distinction as the first restaurant in New York completely run on iPads.

"The customers love it," says Sebastian Gonella, one of the owners and co-founders of De Santos. "Who doesn't like an iPad? They go nuts."

While it may sound crazy to replace lined notepads that cost $1.50 with $500 iPads, De Santos owners claim the new system saves money—and allows the restaurant to make something of a fashion statement while streamlining its ordering system.

"Any business knows that technology is a very important tool," says Gonella. "In the restaurant business, I was always certain that we were lacking on the visual aspect of it."

The marriage between Apple and this rustic, dimly lit tavern—which at one point was frequented by legendary musicians such as Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan—almost seems counterintuitive. But like Apple, De Santos is all about balancing style with substance, which made the move to install iPads as a fixture in the restaurant an aesthetic choice, as well as a business decision.

"Because I'm an artist, I always believed that the visual aspects of any business are pretty important," Gonella says. "Apple is the best company in the world that [uses] visuals as a marketing tool, so I believed it would be a great idea to make it happen in the restaurant business."

The iPads can do everything associated with the day-to-day functions of the restaurant—namely, taking orders, sending them to the kitchen, and paying for the bill—but makes it simpler and much more time- and money-efficient. The customized POS system, which appears as an app on every server's iPad, can access the restaurant's table and seating chart, as well as a full visual menu from the kitchen and the bar.

"Nowadays in New York City, the menus don't list the entire specifications of each dish," Gonella says. "With this software, you can show them exactly the dish itself and all the specifications for each dish, so people are really buying what they're seeing and there's no more confusion. It's pretty important."

With the entire menu in detail on the iPad, waiters simply choose each item from the library of menu options. Once the order is complete, it's sent wirelessly to the kitchen and bar, where the order is printed out and punched. For the waitstaff, this means no more extra trips to the terminal to repeat the full order; this technology frees up servers to see more tables, take more orders, serve more drinks, and chat with customers.

Bartender Paul Bekavac was accustomed to De Santos's old POS system, a common one called Aloha, but he's quickly seeing the benefits of the iPad.

"In the history of different POS systems I've worked with—and I've worked with them all—I felt Aloha was the easiest; however, this system, with the kind of instantaneous relay that you have with the iPad, it really does cut that time down a lot," Bekavac says. "Makes you more productive."

"Now the kitchen's fast," Gonella says. "They have four or five more minutes to prepare the dish, so the food is coming very quickly. It's a huge difference because that's more or less the time it takes to prepare a dish, unless it's lamb or filet mignon. It's really efficient."

When it comes time to pay the bill, De Santos eliminates the back-and-forth exchange of credit cards and receipts by completing the purchase tableside.

"We have a credit card swiper so you can [pay] directly from the iPad," Gonella says. "They can also sign on the iPad for their bill, and if they wanted to get the receipt by e-mail, we can send it by e-mail, so I don't have to waste paper."

All of these efficient tools mean faster customer service, fewer mistakes, happier customers, more sales, and more overall revenue. The cost of this new system is considerably cheaper, too.

"We worked very closely with the president of Pro-Touch Solutions, Brad Igel. He's one of the best programmers I've ever worked with in my life, and he custom-made [the platform] practically for us. The options we have in this new system are unlimited," Gonella says.

Compared to traditional POS systems like Aloha, which will typically cost a restaurant at least $30,000 to install, De Santos's tailor-made POS system for the iPad took a fraction of the price to produce. Between contracting Igel to build the customized app and buying the 8 iPads and credit card swipers, the whole shebang cost about $18,000.

And thanks to the iPad's compatibility with Apple's other products, De Santos's owners now have more control over their restaurant than ever before. The owners—Gonella, Luis Miguel Amutio, and Alex Gonzalez—can all monitor the entire restaurant from anywhere in the world from an iPhone and receive real-time data about the restaurant's performance. Every transaction is immediately tabulated and analyzed.

"I can be in L.A. and check—live—exactly how many orders are placed, how many credit cards were used, which ones were mistakes or not," Gonella says. "You really have control over what's happening in the dining room. If [servers] want to give a free drink for a friend, or they made a mistake and don't want to tell the manager so they ring it again, that all costs our business. Now, we can eliminate that."

While De Santos was the first to make the move to iPads, it surely won't be the last.



IPads Serve Results

David O’Hara, Kokley, Inc.

Restaurants are slow to adopt a lot of things, but for some reason they are early adopters of certain technology. For example, restaurants have proven to be early adopters of utilizing iPads to optimize their operation. More obvious (I figure) is that restaurants are a low margin, high risk business. If your restaurant is not memorable, you are at a disadvantage. One way to deliver a memorable experience is to be first and be different. IPads can serve the purpose.

I have seen charging stations that rival the footprint of a compact car, tablets in restaurants utilizing 5% of their capacity and wine lists at the finest restaurants in Vegas (think big budget) that look like construction-ready devices. But at the end of the day, people talk about the experience of using iPads at restaurants… and that means word-of-mouth revenue!

Order, choose your wine, pick your entrée or provide feedback, iPads are invading restaurants and making an impact.