Reimagining Retail Execution with Windows 8.1 Tablets

Research from Microsoft Advertising's Consumer Insights team, shows that many of us research brands and prices on our (largely) digital path to purchase on PCs and tablets, and armed with our smartphone, we as shoppers are often better informed than the retail store associate. While in fashion retailers we're starting to encounter sales associates armed with tablets and software for assisted selling to remedy the situation, why don't we see broader use of tablets in retail merchandising, and grocery, in particular?
Understanding the challenges and opportunities to leverage tablets in retail stores was the topic of a Progressive Grocer Roundtable in Chicago last month, sponsored by Microsoft and Intel. We were joined by key executives from Coca-Cola, Hillshire Brands, Nestle, Peapod Interactive (Ahold), Pfizer, and Tyson Foods. For a concise summary of the Roundtable discussion head to the November edition of Progressive Grocer. Combining learnings from the roundtable discussion and the daily conversations I’m having with frustrated retailers and CPG brands, I'd summarize as follows:
  • the currently deployed generation of tablets have proven benefits, but these have often been outweighed by the costs in device management, data security, custom application development, and extremely limited choices in form factor
  • retailers see the need for multiple form factors that challenge traditional silos of smartphones, tablets, handheld terminals and mobile POS, and would like a unified approach to device and data management, as well as a common user experience across devices for high turnover sales associates
  • CPG suppliers anticipate huge benefits from consolidating non touch Windows laptops, and first generation tablets, into a single Windows 8 tablet for their merchandising reps
Earlier this month we again collaborated with Progressive Grocer on a Technology Webcast to share the findings of the October Roundtable, but also to reimagine the role of tablets with the release of Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Windows Embedded 8.1 for Industry, and a whole new generation of tablet form factors enabled by Intel's latest chipsets. Listen to Coca-Cola, Nestle, Intel and I discuss the potential for this new generation of tablets and software to:
  • enhance productivity from both retail store associates and CPG merchandising reps
  • save billions through enhanced collaboration between consumer goods manufacturers and retailers to eliminate out-of-stocks and increase on-shelf availability of the brands shoppers want to buy
  • improve the customer shopping experience with better informed sales associates
Have an opinion on the webcast, or this post? Let me know @Msretail or @colinmasson