Industry News - August 9th 2014
RETAIL AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS
Target Trials iPad Kiosks within Departments
Target Corp. is testing a baby section with trained staff and informational kiosks at 10 of its Illinois locations in a push to gain a bigger share of the shrinking, but competitive market for baby gear. While the product assortment is unchanged, the baby department is redesigned to offer a more 'specialty store' feeling.
Knowledgeable staff is on hand to assist shoppers and answer product questions. Several iPads loaded with content from Johnson & Johnson's BabyCenter have also been added to provide shoppers easy access to relevant information while in-store.
For Target, trying to do a better job at satisfying new parents could lead to higher sales over time. According to a Reuters report, "we kind of are a store for families, and particularly young families, and we just think there is further opportunity to capture a larger share of their wallet," said Trish Adams, Target's senior vice president of merchandising.
Target previously piloted its Beauty Concierge program, which included the addition of trained beauty and skincare experts and iPads, in Chicago before rolling the concept out to more stores this year.
New POS Software Boasts Greater Flexibility for Mobility and Security
ParTech, Inc. (PAR), a subsidiary of PAR Technology Corporation has announced the availability of its latest release of PAR EverServ® PixelPoint® V12 point-of-sale (POS) software. EverServ PixelPoint V12 includes more than 40 new features and enhancements, which provide greater flexibility and capabilities to help restaurant operators simplify deployment, reduce costs and improve customer service. PAR has deployed more than 42,000 PixelPoint licenses at restaurants around the world, including Baskin-Robins, Taco Mayo, Wild Wings, Restaurantes California and Mike Anderson’s Seafood.
EverServ PixelPoint V12 key enhancements offer restaurant operators greater flexibility for:
Mobile POS – extended POS capabilities for tablets
Software Purchasing Options – ability to purchase PixelPoint as a monthly subscription
POS Security – configurable security and compliance features
International Payments – EMV payment and fiscal framework expedites global deployments
Third-party Integration – expanded list of certified and established interfaces
Business Reporting – simplified tools for building custom reports and more standard reports
PixelPoint POS software is an easy to implement and easy to use solution designed for use in any and all restaurant concepts from quick service to table service. PixelPoint is flexible and customizable to adapt to restaurants’ business model rather than forcing them to change processes to accommodate the POS software. With PixelPoint V12, managing restaurant operations is even easier with more choices and capabilities to run your business better:
Reduced Initial Investment – The PixelPoint POS software license is now available as a subscription option (monthly fee). Restaurants will now have the option to experience a proven and full-feature PixelPoint POS through a low monthly fee or the traditional lump-sum initial perpetual license option.
Simplified Web-based Activation – PixelPoint V12.0 and all future versions can be activated and licensed faster and easier with the new Web-based procurement and management tools.
Extended Mobile POS Capabilities – PixelPoint makes it a perfect fit for extending POS mobility to wait staff using the latest tablets and enables online ordering (via third-parties) from consumer smart-phones. PAR WebView also provides mobile access to HeadOffice Cloud dashboards and reports for restaurant operators and managers.
Advanced Security, Compliance and Fiscal Features – A new and extensive set of configurable security and compliance features provides the flexibility that POS integrators and customers need to meet the ever-changing global payment, fiscal and labor compliance demands. The new features, including a fiscal framework, enable companies to design a single complete POS solution for a concept or brand to meet compliance demands across multiple municipalities, states, provinces and countries.
Enhanced Third-Party Integration – With an increased suite of APIs, PixelPoint V12 offers an expanded list of interfaces and peripherals to enable customers and system integrators to build their own extensions with PixelPoint POS at the core.
More Accessible Enterprise Reporting – The new HeadOffice Cloud service for PixelPoint enables companies with multiple stores to cost effectively deploy an enterprise above store solution with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription-based license – avoiding much of the up-front investment associated with a traditional software license.
Improved Reporting – PixelPoint V12.0 includes a new QueryBuilder tool to simplify the creation of custom ad-hoc data queries. In addition, more than 50 standard reports have been added to the report library.
PAR EverServ PixelPoint has attained PADSS certification and is currently available through PAR’s North America channel partners and will be available globally later in the third quarter of 2014.
VirtualHotel Boosts Mobile App Engagement with Mobile Key
Cardola and OpenWays have joined forces following HITEC in an effort to ensure that hotels' guest-facing mobile apps are being used and subsequent revenues are being realized. With Mobile Key by OpenWays now part of the VirtualHotel by Cardola mobile concierge toolkit, guests will have even more reasons to engage with the hotel via their smartphone. Not only does this alliance give guests instant and secure access to their rooms, but it provides a way to further streamline service delivery, remove language barriers and enhance the overall guest experience. For the hotel, more exposure to services and amenities via its app increases revenues, improves satisfaction, heightens loyalty, and establishes brand differentiation.
Created by Cardola USA Inc., VirtualHotel serves as a reliable and robust mobile concierge designed to enhance communication and revenue channels by facilitating multilingual service ordering and delivery. OpenWays is the hospitality leader in mobile-based access-management and security solutions. Mobile Key by OpenWays streamlines the hotel arrival process by enabling hotel guests to zip past the front desk and open their room doors using any of the nearly 7 billion cell phones in the world -- any make, any mobile network -- as their room key. With Mobile Key by OpenWays embedded into VirtualHotel, guests can enjoy the convenience of one-touch, secure room access in the same way they can order room service, purchase an in-room movie, examine a map of conference facilities, schedule a spa service, book a tour or a tee time.
According to the GSMA, a global mobile industry trade group, by 2020 there will be approximately 20 billion mobile devices and 24 billion connected devices worldwide. Today, roughly 72% of global users access the mobile web daily, and by 2020, that number will grow exponentially. Perhaps that's why hotels are willing to invest $30,000 to $300,000 to develop custom mobile apps that provide daily offers, mobile check in, customer support, loyalty programs, hotel wayfinding, area maps and more.
Benefits of VirtualHotel with Mobile Key by OpenWays Integration
VirtualHotel with Mobile Key by OpenWays puts guests in control of their stay without any explanation or tutorials required. Room service orders, secure room access, restaurant reservations, spa treatments, concierge services, housekeeping requests, local information, weather forecasts, and future reservations can all be accessed with just the touch of an icon. Because the system is multilingual, guests can easily interact with all touch points in their preferred language, thereby increasing engagement.
VirtualHotel with Mobile Key by OpenWays enhances a hotel's sustainability program. Because Mobile Key is made only of secure data, it is the greenest room key on the plant. The cost to purchase harmful plastic keycards is removed. Likewise, because the VirtualHotel app is digital, all costs related to printing in-room collateral is removed. Updating content contained within the app can be done at a moment's notice to keep guests apprised of the latest information at all times. Changes to app design, products, options, languages and prices also can be done in real-time without impacting the guests’ use of the service. This not only drives onsite revenues, but it enhances the ability for travelers to purchase items long after they have left the property.
VirtualHotel with Mobile Key by OpenWays resolves service delivery issues. Since all requests are tracked from the moment they are placed, VirtualHotel's intelligent service-delivery tool ensures that all guest requests are delivered to the correct department immediately and alerts management if there are any delivery delays. VirtualHotel with Mobile Key by OpenWays can then notify guests when a request has been fulfilled, their rooms are ready, or an upgrade be been issued, etc.
VirtualHotel with Mobile Key by OpenWays inspires guests to make the most of their stay by uploading useful information about the area, its history and nearby attractions with the option for guests to place reservations or purchase services offsite while still being on premises. Affiliate partnerships with local businesses drive revenues as both parties can enjoy revenue shares.
VirtualHotel with Mobile Key by OpenWays is fully customizable and all content can be designed to reflect the hotel's personality while maintaining brand values and protecting the brand's reputation.
VirtualHotel with MobileKey by OpenWays is available for guests to download prior to arrival via the Apple App Store, iTunes, and Google Play so they can engage with the hotel immediately. A proprietary app will also be present on the hotel's website offering more personalized functionality. Hoteliers can easily make changes to the design, products, options, languages and prices in real-time without impacting the guests’ use of the service.
Are You Ready to Move to the Cloud?
Whether you’re at a trade show, speaking with a vendor or simply talking tech with a colleague, the latest rage is cloud computing. Are you in the cloud? Are you moving to the cloud? Why aren’t you in the cloud? There are so many questions and if you were to ask ten different people, “what is cloud computing?”, I bet you would get ten different definitions. I’ve been there. Like many, I come from a world of having a data center with racks, and sometimes multiple racks, of servers for every application. This is great for us control freaks, who crave immediate access to all servers to deliver reports and data. In this new world of instant gratification, being able to touch and feel servers in-house is more important than ever. This also comes with very expensive overhead, including a staff that needs to update, patch and perform constant upgrades, perform daily backups and many other IT obstacles. We as IT leaders, as well as the users we enable, should really be focused on the core business rather than bogged down with all these tasks.
The cloud solution
The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet, so cloud computing is simply accessing hardware and software in an offsite location over the Internet. The question for me was, “where do I start?”
My team drastically reduced the number of servers we had by using virtualization. That always helps, but everything is still in-house and those servers still have to be maintained. As we switched out certain applications, we moved to a couple software as a service (SaaS) products, which are basically single applications accessed over the Internet via a hosted provider using a web browser. We also did the same thing with our payroll and HR systems. My team was extremely happy to retire and not have to worry about those three servers. Our next big move was transitioning all of our phone services to the cloud. That was a scary proposition as we are a hospitality company and we live by our phones. If the phones don’t ring with guests making reservations, we’re out of business.
I was already in the process of changing our Internet service provider (ISP) and revamping our WAN, so why not take this time to move to voice over IP (VOIP)? After analysis and preparation, the decision was made to partner with another company, and one by one all our restaurants and corporate office phones were moved into the cloud — more than 350 phones in total. Without the need for expensive PRI phone circuits, multiple phone lines and other erroneous phone charges, a ton of money was saved. Plus, we didn’t have to pay a phone vendor for service calls to maintain the PBX phone systems at all locations or to add an extension. We can access all the phones via a web browser on our custom portal and do all the adds, moves, and changes we want ourselves.
Components of the cloud
The extent to which you use the cloud really depends on your business model. You can go as far as moving your entire data center to the cloud. This would eliminate your server capex worries as well as planning for data storage and scalability. Cloud vendors make it easy to add storage and give you the ability to access your data at higher speeds than you may be able to provide in-house.
To me, cloud computing is reminiscent of the old mainframe days where the “dumb” terminals accessed the mainframe for use of applications. E-mail, Excel documents, presentations, etc., can be accessed via the cloud as well.
Depending on your business model, all you need is a web browser on your computer and you can access any application from anywhere. Now in the world of mobility and with more companies allowing employees to work remotely, you can access your critical data and applications from your phone, tablet, laptop or any Internet-enabled device.
The world of cloud computing may be the new rage, but it’s definitely here to stay. The landscape has changed in IT. Don’t play a wait-and-see game, start moving to the cloud now.
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