IBM’s web-based omni-channel PoS software launches at NRF 2013

At this year’s National Retailer’s Federation get together, the big blue cannily launched it’s Toshiba co-venture software in tandem with releasing the results of a study into new retail consumers.

Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM’s Industry Solutions business unit said  “The digital experience is influencing changes in the store and online, and the winners are those that are making omni-channel retailing a reality today from pre-sale to post-sales service.”

IBM’s study shows that while physical stores are still the main shopping destination, e-commerce’s attractiveness for many consumers is increasingly irresistible . While 84 percent of those surveyed made their most recent non-grocery purchase in a brick-and-mortar store, a third said that they couldn’t say with confidence if a physical store or an online shop would win their next purchase.

Worryingly they found that almost half of online shoppers were “showroomers,” and 25 percent of showroomers said they first planned to make an in-store purchase but those plans were derailed by (presumably positive) online experiences. A majority, 65 percent, said they planned to complete their next purchase online.

Consistent with our emphasis on personalisation, IBM found that that 89 percent of shoppers were prepared to spend 20 minutes to fill out a profile if it leads to better offers. Furthermore, 55 percent said they expect retailers to take their buying histories into account for relevant promotions.

IBM used these survey result to provide the context for the launch of TCxGravity which is designed to bridge the worlds of online and in-person shopping, amongst other things by enabling store staff to manage orders taken from another channel, offer alternatives to out-of-stock items and offer products based on a customer’s buying history including what products they have purchased and where they purchased them.  It identifies what offers are relevant to them based on their in store and digital behavior (online, mobile, social, etc).

Knowing exactly what specials, products, and offers would be relevant to the customer on demand is a clear game changer for in store sales. Sharing that POS data across other channels could redefine a company’s relationship with the customer at every touch point.

TCxGravity is browser-based point of sale (POS) application built on the IBM Sterling Commerce Order Management (OMS) enterprise infrastructure. This application also benefits retailers by allowing for a single change to business logic for all applications and channels (of which POS is one).

Store-to-store scenarios are ready for immediate use in the product, other cross-channel scenarios described below are enabled but require deployment and licensing of the IBM Sterling Commerce Order Management components:

  • Store-to-store and cross-channel sales
  • Inventory visibility across the enterprise directly from POS
  • Buy online – Return at the store
  • Buy online – Exchange at the store
  • Buy using call center – Return/exchange at the store
  • Buy at store – Ship to home – Pay at the store
  • Buy online – Pick up at the store – Pay online
  • Buy at store – Pick up at alternate store – Pay at original store
  • Buy online – Modify order at the store (that is, change delivery address)

Full technical details are HERE. And it’s also worth looking at Toshiba’s presentation to the International Retail User Group here.

IBM’s ‘Smarter Commerce’ approach is described in a downloadable pdf here. A new term used in the document that particularly rings rues is the ‘chief executive customer’. This sings out of our hymn book about putting the customer back at the centre of retail operations.

Please feel free to share your experience and findings if you take a closer look at these products, or have experience in deploying them.