Friday, March 6, 2009

Solution Spotlight: Taggle Brings Mobile Bids To Brick & Mortar Stores

By Amanda Ferrante

The Concept:

Taggle is a new concept designed to allow consumers in a brick-and-mortar retail store to bid on items in a no-hassle way via the mobile device. While designed to work optimally for the iPhone and iPod touch, Taggle can also work for owners of other phones via SMS messaging. In September 2008, the Consumer Electronic Association selected Taggle as one of 15 finalists worldwide as one of the most innovative applications of 2008.

The Team:
Taggle was conceived and developed by Las Vegas-based Sysgain, Inc., a privately held technical consulting and product development company. CEO Ram Thummala came up with the concept to nurture the changing consumer’s preferences. Thummala partnered with Michael Brophy, who had previously worked in retail management/information system for 10 years.

Market Relevance:
“Haggling is a reality of the retail environment,” says Brophy. He introduces an “elastic pricing” concept, which, he says, will ultimately mitigate margin loss. The retailer with Taggle controls the entire promotion, messaging, what SKUs are available, description image, quantity the store is willing to sell and at what price. Brophy says the Taggle application is not limited to the elastic pricing scheme, and can be extended to support a feature similar to eBay’s “Buy it Now” feature, so consumers can purchase on the spot at a designated price.

Without integrating with a POS system, data warehouse, UPC databases, etc., the core offering for Taggle is the piece that sits in the store. Sysgain brings in a wireless infrastructure, or can override the store’s existing one, depending on the type of existing wireless technology. An installed VPN appliance allows secure connectivity back to the Taggle data center where bids are evaluated and sent back to consumers. A back office work station within the store is necessary for nightly reporting and to create and maintain marketing messaging. Sysgain provides in store signage consistent with each retailers’ style and guidelines.

Proof Points:

In November 2007, Sysgain conducted a consumer survey with input from over 2,100 consumers. Those that did haggle had an average 70% success rate at saving $50 or more. Nearly 40% felt so uncomfortable about the idea of haggling that they never even tried. Sysgain recently finished taking applications from pilot retailers to develop a user base and generate buzz. “Retailers know people are using their phones in the store for purposes that are working against the retailer’s objectives,” says Brophy. “A lot of people are price shopping other retailers… let’s try to influence their behavior by giving them a network to join once they’re in the store so you can deliver your messaging.”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mobility Moves Up Priority Scale As Retailers Look For Productivity, Sales Gains

By Amanda Ferrante
As retailers struggle to find operating efficiencies while still maximizing revenue opportunities, demand for mobility tools are on the rise and solution providers are responding with applications that are easier and more affordable to implement at the store level.

Relative newcomer to the retail space, DT Research recently unveiled the WebDT series of devices for Point-of-Service, boasting the largest screen size of any handheld POS device in the market today. The devices include a fully-integrated MSR, RFID and/or barcode scanner. The WebDT 300 devices are designed to help companies “do more with less” by improving customer service with fewer employees and reduce costs by streamlining business processes.

The WebDT Point-of-Service handhelds can be designated for specific applications and business processes. The WebDT 400 devices have a rugged design, with an IP65 rating for liquid and dust resistance. The devices’ fully-integrated magnetic stripe reader (MSR), RFID and barcode scanner are designed to enhance ease-of-use and reliability.

The WebDT Handheld Point-of-Service device is designed to allow retailers to increase the quality of customer service by providing on-the-spot service from anywhere in the store, including checkout, payment processing away from the register and POS queue busting.

“As market conditions fluctuate, businesses need to improve productivity and provide high-quality service with limited resources,” said Dr. Daw Tsai, president of DT Research. “By providing on-the-spot order taking, payment processing and ticket scanning, businesses can quickly assist every customer on the premises with a wide range of services and real-time information. Organizations can also increase sales through instantaneous up-selling and cross-selling.”

Motorola’s Enterprise Mobility business unveiled several new solutions at NRF last month designed to improve customer experience, productivity and protect customer data. Highlights of Motorola’s new offerings included:

The new PCI-compliant DCR-7X00-100R mobile payment module, which mobilizes the point-of-sale and addresses a key challenge for retail and hospitality establishments – to more quickly respond to and complete customers’ credit, debit and loyalty card transactions. By providing access to banking and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, businesses can create a mobile point of sale (MPOS) solution that is ideal for applications such as line-busting in retail stores and car rental agencies and table side payment at hospitality establishments. This new Payment Card Industry PIN Entry Device (PCI PED) for the MC70 and MC75 Enterprise Digital Assistants (EDAs) includes a PIN pad for online debit card transactions. With the new payment module, retailers can now offer customers the choice of paying with credit or debit – while taking advantage of lower transaction charges for online PIN debit transactions.

The new DS9808 digital image scanner, which can be used in both hands-free mode for rapid scanning of multiple items, and in handheld mode for scanning items up to 18” away that may be too heavy or bulky to lift. The new solution is designed to eliminate wait times for customers. The device can read 1D, 2D and PDF-417 bar codes, which helps to support business-critical retail applications like auto-population of forms, returns monitoring and age verification.

Addressing the increase of self-service shopping, Motorola’s new MK500 is a compact, micro kiosk designed to run in-store, applications such as price check, gift card balance look-up and loyalty card point balance data. Designed to be mounted just about anywhere in the store, the MK500 enables customers to quickly find the information they need without seeking a store associate.

“Motorola is helping retailers tailor their offerings to meet the changing needs of shoppers through secure access to data and information, when and where they need it, while offering consumers a more personalized shopping experience,” said Frank Riso, senior director of retail solutions, Motorola Enterprise Mobility business. ”With our portfolio of retail solutions Motorola can meet today’s consumer and retailer needs by empowering the store associate to transform the retail enterprise.”