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"The real value comes when you put the data in the hands of the people that need it to be able to make decisions."massa. Quisque vestibulum tempus felis. Nulla interdum varius arcu nec. Duis id erat nunc. Nam eu aliquam velit. Donec pretium sed quam quis pulvinar. Fusce felis ante, pulvinar ac metus et, adipiscing consequat lectus. Integer quam nibh, varius nec lacus elementum, bibendum posuere ante. Mauris vehicula.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) engine begins to gain momentum in various sectors across the globe, it is important for retailers, who are eager to adopt an IoT strategy, to remember that technology is only an enabler and that a lot of value lies in having a customer-centric strategy, experts say.

Speaking at a session during the 2015 Middle East Retail Forum, Mark Thomson, director of retail industry solutions at Zebra Technologies for the Emea region, said that data gathering is an important step for retailers when it comes to predicting their customers' needs and providing an enjoyable shopping experience.

"The real value comes when you put the data in the hands of the people that need it to be able to make decisions. It's about understanding what type of data the store staff needs to help customers; and how you are going to ensure that your store managers are going to be walking around the store, rather than sitting in the back office," he said.

Thomson said that it doesn't matter if a customer is physically present at the store or shopping online; what matters is making sure that the level of service being provided is consistent.

"The customer today is king. So, how do we make that real, whether the customer is in the store, in an online store and even on a mobile store - because online today is where a customer is at any given time, and not just sitting at home. It is all about engaging with your customers, and understanding the different ways to keep their interest level up," he said.

Thomson also noted that "predictive technology" is available today, and that several large retailers were heavily investing in that technology. "What's interesting is that investment is not necessarily coming from the IT department," he said. "Retailers today are focusing more on all their departments working together to build a business. There is a real value in departments working alongside each other to provide the best experience for the customers."

He said almost all stores today have cameras installed. That data stored on cameras is invaluable when it comes to predicting and catering to customers' needs. "By analysing such data in real time, you can predict when you will need to open more counters for checkout; where you will need to send more staff; and check and update your inventory stock before it runs out," Thomson said.

He also highlighted the importance of providing retail staff with the tools necessary for them to help both customers and themselves. "Empower them to take on more decision-making roles that will make the service more efficient," he said.