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Retailspeak Issue 25


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Retailspeak magazine is Microsoft\'s value proposition delivery tool for enterprise retail, consumer goods & hospitality sectors. The publication covers how implementation of Microsoft and their partners\' technology helps improve business processes, how it makes people\'s lives easier and ultimately delivering the people ready dream.

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Retailspeak Issue 25

  1. 1. AUTUMN 2009 The definitive word on retail and hospitality technology IN THIS ISSUE The multi-channel revolution Technology to support the future of retailing In-room entertainment Boosting revenue and enhancing travellers’ experiences Social media How retailers can target Generation Y Reaching out Miami’s new Epic Hotel goes online with SuiteLinq Visit for news and views on retail and hospitality “Customers trust the opinions of their friends and peers, and the ability to A million reasons to thank Microsoft: Nitrosell’s Tom Keane seek opinions easily can mean significant ROI for retailers.” endorses the Software plus Services vision. Page 38 ShiSh Shridhar, Microsoft
  2. 2. THIS ISSUE publishing partners welcome Fujitsu Technology Solutions – a Microsoft Gold Certified partner – employs more than 10,000 people and is part of the global Fujitsu Group, which delivers IT-based business solutions to customers in 70 countries through a workforce of more than 160,000 employees. With its Dynamic Infrastructures approach, the company offers a full portfolio of IT products, solutions and services, ranging from clients to datacenter solutions, Welcome to the Autumn edition of Retailspeak. Managed Infrastructure and Infrastructure-as-a-Service. The hospitality business has always been competitive; however in the current economy the battle for travellers’ loyalty has become even more intense. Operators know they must differentiate by way of the personal service that’s the hallmark of the best hotels. Nowadays, though, they need still more. ProfitBase’s data warehousing solution provides ready to use industry In-room entertainment is increasingly a key source of differentiation specific templates and data source connector templates, enabling for hotels, and at Microsoft we’re playing a major role in helping ProfitBase 2009 to be implemented significantly faster than custom operators strengthen their offerings. This issue of Retailspeak reflects developed data warehouse solutions. ProfitBase 2009 leverages the power that role, looking at the new Epic Hotel in Miami, where owner of SQL Server and Analysis Services to deliver performance information to Kimpton has worked closely with our partner SuiteLinq to implement a scorecard, dashboard and reporting systems providing decision makers with one consolidated view of the information they need to make better, faster world-class in-room entertainment offer to match the hotel’s stunning decisions. location and service. Elsewhere, we’re covering in-room entertainment too – our major feature is designed to give hospitality firms a clear overview of what’s state of the art, and how to go about upgrading. It’s not just about the hospitality business – we have content aimed at businesses all over the retail and consumer goods sectors, with great practical advice on the best ways to use Microsoft technologies. I’d particularly draw your attention to ShiSh Shridhar’s viewpoint article on page 41, in which he describes how all companies might begin to ride the wave of social media. SuiteLinq serves the needs of the hospitality and extended stay industries worldwide by providing integrated, on-demand entertainment, connectivity I hope you enjoy the issue. and business productivity solutions that deliver the ultimate in-room experience for guests and new revenue streams for property owners. Its Paula Paravecchio multi-platform digital solutions integrate with legacy PMS, POS, and CRM EMEA Managing Director, Distribution & Services, Microsoft EMEA systems to power customised guest experiences in-room and throughout the hotel. Editor Features editor Tom Keane Adam Lawrence Lindsay James Larry LeBlanc Moti Lichi Editorial team Daniel Lucht Publisher James Dodd sponsor Andy Clayton Smith Rebecca Lambert Design and production Matthew Muta Alexandria Rumble Mark Ryan Morten Saelemyr Circulation administrator Leigh Trowbridge ShiSh Shridhar Ritwik Bhattacharjee Bruce Graham Kris Singleton Paul Robinson Partner managers Nigel Stephenson Claire Brown Contributors Robin Warburton Dominic Citino Tony Young Christian Jones Peter Claussen Craig Ziegler Tom Cooley Green IT adviser Ben Mayer Ashish Jasiwal Dr Bernd Kosch Noe Gutierrez Ricky Popat Retailspeak is published by No part of this publication may be re- Tudor Rose, 6 Friar Lane produced, stored in a retrieval system Leicester LE1 5RA, United Kingdom. or transmitted in any form or by any +44 116 222 9900 means, electrical, mechanical, photo- copying, recording or otherwise, Managing director: Jon Ingleton without prior written permission of the publisher. ISSN 1753-545X Retailspeak is Microsoft’s quarterly customer magazine for the retail and Printed in the UK by hospitality industry. For further information or to subscribe, visit: E-mail: The Manson Group. Online: Autumn 2009. Issue 25. Microsoft (NASDAQ ‘MSFT’) is the world leader in software, services and Produced in association with solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential. The Microsoft EMEA. company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower © 2009 All rights reserved. people through great software – anytime, any place and on any device. All trademarks or registered trademarks belong to their respective companies. AUTU M N 2009 Retailspeak 1
  3. 3. THIS ISSUE 14 digest 06 RETAIL TECHNOLOGY ROUND-UP The latest technology news including a Windows 7 roll out at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Astley Clarke’s appointment of Snow Valley to develop its new Web site, and the deployment of a Toshiba TEC EPOS solution at Burger King’s new Whopper Bar in Europe lead story 14 REACHING OUT Rebecca Lambert looks at one hotel in the US that has stepped up its game with the latest entertainment and communication technology features 20 THE CONSTANT RETAILER How embracing a multi-channel strategy will carry retailers into the future 20 26 THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT Employing today’s in-room entertainment technologies may just be the answer to boosting hotel revenue and adding true value to the traveller experience. Lindsay James finds out more forums 32 Expert commentary from the speciality retail, food and drug, hospitality and mass merchandise sectors 26 spotlight 36 How Microsoft in the UK is supporting customers in the retail sector, and how retailers in Germany are remaining stable this year viewpoint 38 Thought leadership from IT professionals including Microsoft’s ShiSh Shridhar on social media and Tom Keane of Nitrosell on the benefits of S+S 33 37 technology in action 43 Successful implementation stories from around the world interview 48 ARTS: THE PROCESS, CHALLENGES AND REWARDS Richard Mader and Edvard Gundersen of ARTS speak to ProfitBase president Larry LeBlanc AUTU M N 2009 Retailspeak 5
  4. 4. retail technology round-up DIGEST E-COMMERCE POS WHOLESALE Jeweller picks Snow Valley for e-shop ACA automates GANT Centric wins Dutch The luxury online jewellery boutique has appointed Snow operations director at “We followed an extensive selection flagship store client with Dynamics Valley to design and develop its new procedure, and Snow Valley was chosen A recently opened GANT clothing flagship store has used Retailium Intratuin, a Dutch garden centre company, has implemented a Web site. due to its wealth of experience in this software from ACA to automate its sales processes. Dynamics AX 2009-based wholesale process solution from Centric. The online store will be delivered using sector, and the strength of its technical The new store is situated in the fashion quarter of Antwerp, Belgium Centric RetailWorld is an automated business solution that supports Snow Valley’s MUSE e-commerce and creative teams.” and forms part of a collection of franchised GANT stores opened by the most important wholesale processes within the head office, as well platform, which is based on Microsoft “Astley Clarke is known for its fine Dutch businessmen, and brothers, Kees and Frank de Groot. as the logistics operations between the head office and the stores. technology including Commerce Server, designer jewellery and for the attention Retailium Openstore is used in the stores to process all POS Centric has started the implementation process, with completion BizTalk Server and SQL Server. Astley to detail that it pays to its customers transactions, with Retailium Enterprise for Microsoft Dynamics NAV expected by the end of 2009. Clarke will be taking full advantage of the and their service,” said Sam Andrews, serving as the back-office stock information system where it integrates Intratuin looked to replace its current IT platform due to increasing powerful catalogue and promotion creative director at Snow Valley. “We’ll logistics, sales, purchase policy, as well as store and financial logistics activities and expected growth. The company said it selected engines within Microsoft Commerce be helping the company to extend that management capabilities. Both products run on Microsoft Windows Centric due to its retail and process expertise, as well as RetailWorld’s Server, while scalable integration with its right the way across its online store. 2000 or XP and require Microsoft SQL Server to deliver the best optimum functional coverage as a solution within Microsoft Dynamics fulfilment system will be completed using When you order a piece of jewellery performance. AX 2009. BizTalk Server. from you can choose “The decision to select ACA and its Retailium Openstore POS systems Elsewhere, Centric has been invited to join the Microsoft Dynamics A number of features will be for it to arrive in a beautiful box, was an easy one to make,” said Kees de Groot. “We were looking for a President’s Club for 2009, honouring its success in the wholesale and introduced to the Web site, including wrapped in hand-pressed Japanese professional partner in automation that could offer us the functionality retail market. This success centred on the introduction of Dynamics AX wish list functionality and an improved paper and Italian ribbon. The design and that we need to simplify the daily management of our stores and to 2009 to new clients and on the development of Centric TradeWorld, ‘tell a friend’ function. Guided navigation, the user experience must convey that give us more insight into the results of our company. The systems of Centric RetailWorld and the Microsoft Dynamics Retail Chain Manager. allowing customers to view products magnificent level of service from the ACA lend themselves to this excellently. ACA responds perfectly to “It is a great honour to be a member of the President’s Club. This grouped by type or colour, will be moment the customer goes onto the GANT’s need for innovative technology that supports and fortifies the reaffirms we are moving down a good road together,” said Denhard provided using MUSE’s faceted search Web site. We’re really delighted to be active marketing policy of the organisation.” Jongman, director of Centric Supply Chain Solutions. solution. The new e-commerce platform working with such a successful and will also offer greater support for ambitious online retailer.” Further info Further info marketing and promotions, for example allowing customers to be e-mailed a Further info special offer for their birthday. “We are very excited to be working with Snow Valley on our new e- commerce platform,” said Vicky Lovell, COMMUNICATIONS UK charity more efficient with .NET UK charity The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has introduced a broadband-based private network solution from Vodat improving our customer service.” The retailer’s new private network will be fully managed. This means all issues Loyalty. International in its BHF Shops to improve connected with it are dealt with by Vodat communications and productivity across International and there is no requirement In a world of lackluster loyalty programs, Retalix isn’t the business. for the charity’s staff to monitor or The charity will deploy Vodat resolve network problems. just a me-too solution. With Retalix Loyalty™, International’s solution, which uses “Our solution not only meets the you can create exceptionally loyal customers that Microsoft .NET and SQL Server, to charity’s immediate needs but it will also manage the data for the sale of both allow them to adapt to changing not only keep coming back, but also increase your donated and new goods across its stores. requirements in the future,” said Mike The charity’s day-to-day operational Bielinski, CEO at Vodat International. profits. It’s just one of many ways the global leader in information is currently being gathered “This fully managed network will not only at the head office by overnight polling of provide a more cost-efficient solution to food retail, fuel retail and supply chain software can the 600 stores’ EPOS tills via a standard BHF Shops’ communication requirements phone line. Steve Biddle, head of finance but will also deliver the necessary deliver for you. at BHF Shops, said: “This was obviously an platform that will enable them to expensive and inefficient method and we introduce other applications such as EFT wanted to reduce costs while improving processing and e-commerce applications. reliability. We needed a flexible It will also allow them to develop technology that would enable us to innovative and cost effective IP manage our data network efficiently, telephony, electronic messaging and e- improve communications between stores learning solutions, as and when the across the business and assist us in business requires it.” Vodat’s solution will significantly Further info improve communications and SYNCHRONIZED SOLUTIONS FROM WAREHOUSE TO CHECKOUT. productivity at BHF 6 Retailspeak AUTU M N 2009
  5. 5. retail technology round-up DIGEST WINDOWS 7 MULTI-CHANNEL Windows 7 comes to Sheraton hotels Jacobs musters multi-channel front Sheraton Hotels & Resorts will soon roll Harper, senior vice president of brand Cecil Jacobs, the largest independent out PCs using Windows 7, giving guests in management for Sheraton Hotels & photographic retailer in the UK, has selected its hotels a new way to stay connected Resorts. “We found our inspiration in Multi Channel Commerce (MCC) from Maginus and find information about local parks because they’re a symbol of to improve the customer experience across all attractions, restaurants and more. community where people gather to play its channels. Link@Sheraton takes the standard hotel games, to eat and drink, or just to MCC, a Microsoft Dynamics AX solution, will business centre – typically located away unwind. With that in mind, we designed be implemented in all 17 UK stores, including from public areas – and incorporates it the Link@Sheraton to be much more than EPOS lanes, as well as in the back office and into the lobby with the latest Microsoft a business centre. It’s a social enabler.” central distribution centre. The MCC e- technology. This initiative follows research In addition to offering television and commerce solution replaces the existing Jacobs carried out by Sheraton last year the latest magazines and newspapers, transactional Web site, centring all sales confirming that the majority of its guests each Link@Sheraton site features channels on a single solution for an improved prefer spending time in social places. communal tables, complementary wireless According to Harper, the Link@Sheraton customer experience, as well as increased “We wanted to create a destination service, wired ports for personal laptops experience with Microsoft has had a efficiency and productivity. where all of our guests could come to and at least four personal computers with marked impact on business. Customer “Our customer service offering is a top socialise, be entertained, people watch, 17-inch screens, integrated Web cams and satisfaction has increased by ten per cent, priority and even though we already provide or be alone but not lonely,” said Hoyt Microsoft Office 2007 software. and customers have noted Link@Sheraton an excellent service, we are always looking for as a key contributor to why they would ways to improve this even further,” said Elliott return. In addition, food and beverage Jacobs, general manager at Jacobs. “We went provide support, but had the capability to a fully integrated retail-centric solution covering Did you know? revenue has increased by six per cent because guests spend more time in the through a careful selection process, as this software is an investment in the future of the grow with the company and continue to improve our services, and MCC had the all elements of a multi-channel solution – EPOS, ERP, e-commerce and hosting – to help support 58 per cent of retailers have had a multi-channel initiative in place for at least a lobby. company. We liked the Dynamics platform and capability to deliver.” the business as it develops.” year. Best-in-class companies are one and a half times more likely than industry reviewed a number of Dynamics suppliers, and Russell Dorset, sales and marketing director average and laggard companies to have implemented these initiatives in that time. Further info Maginus impressed us with its expert at Maginus, added: “We are excited to be Further info Source: Cegid/Aberdeen Group understanding of our multi-channel challenges. working with Jacobs, a growing specialist We required a solution that would not only retailer, and feel we are uniquely placed to offer Take a fresh look at your IT future A partnership with New Vision covers all IT services in the Baltic Countries – whether you need international solutions localisation, POS system customisation to meet tax requirements, implementation of new ERP systems, or IT outsourcing. You can find information about our products and services, certifications and references on our international website –
  6. 6. retail technology round-up DIGEST news in brief... FOOD SERVICE DEAL MANAGEMENT BCP expands business Tech allows better CJ Lang and Son has extended its use of BCP’s Accord Voice WMS to its recently opened frozen and chilled warehouse to Middle East negotiations at HMV follow our lead facility. Operations at the company’s regional distribution centre in Scotland are As part of a company expansion fully integrated system covering all now entirely based on voice technology with project Foodlink Bahrain has aspects of its business. BCP Accord over 110 warehouse staff using the system. adopted BCP’s specialist Accord solutions utilise a Win-32 based GUI Employees at the Dundee warehouse use Foodservice solution to replace its interface, and as a Microsoft Gold Accord Voice WMS, which uses a Win-32 current paper-based system. Partner the company has designed based GUI interface, to organise stock, Based in Manama, Juffair in the its software to integrate seamlessly receive goods and pick for shipping. Kingdom of Bahrain, Foodlink with Office products. Bahrain provides hotels and high- “Accord is a sophisticated system Hotel operator Global Hyatt is to launch a end restaurants with foods which will scale up easily as the mobile advertising campaign that makes imported from across the globe. As company grows and provide an use of Microsoft’s relationship with Verizon part of its rapid expansion plans excellent fit for our enlarged Wireless. The campaign is designed to drive the company plans to move into a operation in the years to come,” people to register for the Hyatt Gold new, purpose-built depot and said Mark Huggins, operations Passport frequent guest rewards implement the Accord Foodservice director at Foodlink Bahrain. “We’re programme, as well as encourage them to solution to support future growth. keen to go live as soon as possible visit Hyatt’s new, fully functional mobile The implementation involves so we can start to take advantage Web site using their mobile phone. BCP’s complete Accord solution, of its outstanding functionality.” including purchasing, sales order Market America, an Internet marketing and management, stock control, Further info product brokerage company that specialises multicurrency and financial account- in one-to-one marketing, has successfully ing. This will give Foodlink Bahrain a The Eqos solution will standardise deals and contracts at HMV implemented Microsoft’s FAST ESP to allow consumers to search over 35 million stock HMV, the UK’s entertainment partners, as well as to HMV.” CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP keeping units on its Web site. Using FAST retailer, has selected the Eqos Deal Built on Microsoft .NET, Eqos ESP, consumers can compare products they search for based on price, colour and size. tunes and Terms Management solution to streamline commercial negotiations with its music, DVD, visual product Deal and Terms Management oversees complex promotions and deals, beginning with the concept; The Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit will take place 16–17 September at up business and games suppliers. With more than 80 years of music retailing through supplier collaboration and negotiations; execution of the the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, UK. history, HMV operates 265 stores programme; settlement of funds; Attendees will get the opportunity to meet Online automotive marketplace platform so our staff could use it across the UK and Ireland, 138 and, ultimately, assessing the deal Honeywell offers Gartner analysts, keynote presenters, industry has selected on compatible mobile devices.” stores throughout Canada, and and supplier performance. Product complete data collection panellists and fellow practitioners to discuss Microsoft Dynamics CRM as its To implement Dynamics CRM, manages a growing online store. buyers can work collaboratively the most effective ways to bring the customer relationship management the company chose Microsoft Gold “We’re very much looking with suppliers to structure deals solutions designed to enterprise together. For more information (CRM) system. It anticipates a Certified Partner Tribridge. “We’ve forward to implementing the Eqos and to negotiate terms such as net meet your needs. visit: number of benefits from the new had previous engagements with solution,” said Steve Consalvi, head price, retro-discounts, returns and system, including visibility for Tribridge, and it provided a lot of of finance systems and information marketing contributions. In turn, Two of the leading companies in the automatic Abundant Life Resources (ALR) has adopted trending and forecasting. expertise with quality people who at HMV. “Eqos will enable our suppliers are able to self-manage a multi-channel Accord retail system from “We needed a tool that was easy understand the toolset well,” product buyers to consistently their processes using the Eqos identification and data capture (AIDC) industry— solutions specialist BCP. ALR is the resource to use, worked well out of the box, Finley said. manage deals and to work with system within retailer security Hand Held Products and Metrologic Instruments— arm of the Abundant Life Church, a 21st integrated with Microsoft Office suppliers using a single Web-based restraints. As the promotion or recently combined to form Honeywell Scanning century church based in Bradford, Leeds and Outlook, and would enable us to Further info solution. This system will enable us deal progresses, audit trails enable Belfast. The new solution went live over the track contacts, customer to proactively manage deals and to ‘no dispute’ tracking of & Mobility. Together, we are pleased to deliver course of a few days with the Windows front interactions and opportunities monitor progress, while the more information, while advanced one of the broadest product lines in the industry. end, Accord-PoS, implemented initially on without having to introduce a consistent and auditable security capabilities protect two touch screen tills and linking to a multi- totally different application or communication with suppliers will sensitive deal and terms Our innovative bar code scanners and ergonomic user back office system for centralised platform,” said Gib Finley, help address any issues before they information. mobile computers deliver retail solutions designed control over store operations. director of sales develop into commercial disputes, to increase checkstand efficiency and streamline and service technologies. “We thus avoiding the potential costly Further info This year’s Worldwide Partner Conference – zeroed in on Microsoft Dynamics administrative burdens. We believe back-end applications, resulting in an impressive 13-16 July in New Orleans – saw Microsoft CRM fairly quickly. We have sister that the new system will therefore return on investment. Follow our lead and realize share its strategies and visions for operating companies using it, and be of great benefit to our supplier addressing the challenging economy, saving we liked its integration with your full potential for profitable growth. customers money, and helping partners and Microsoft Office Outlook. We also customers compete confidently. Steve Ballmer, Stephen Elop, Kevin Turner and valued the Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration with our other Did you know? Allison Watson were among the speakers Microsoft technology and its ability 86 per cent of finance directors and managers in the retail sector enlivening the conference with compelling to roll out CRM to a mobile consider loyalty schemes critical to preventing customer defection, accounts of Microsoft’s competitive maintaining competitive positioning and supporting commercial health in the current recession. For additional information, please visit strategy. AutoTrader chose Dynamics AX Source: GI Insight, because of its easy integration with existing technology or call +31 40 2901 600 / + 44 (0)1256 722200. © 2009 Honeywell International Inc. All rights reserved. 10 Retailspeak AUTU M N 2009
  7. 7. retail technology round-up DIGEST news in brief... EPOS Eurostop, a supplier of retail management Toshiba TEC serves up systems to the fashion, footwear and lifestyle market, has been selected by UK EPOS for BK specialist sports company London Joggers to supply an e-commerce solution for its Burger King has successfully TRST-A15 Expediter full order new online store. The new site, deployed a complete EPOS solution printers. Whopper Bar will also run, will improve customer from Toshiba TEC for its new the Burger King back-office Antara service by providing online access to Whopper Bar concept in Europe. software suite from Toshiba TEC. London Joggers’ full range of stock. Microsoft Gold Certified Partner “We are very proud of our EPOS Toshiba TEC is the designated EPOS solution for Burger King’s new ABI Research has released an evaluation of solution provider for Burger King in hospitality concept and are certain RFID software solution vendors for line of Europe and supports company- that it will provide increased value business (LOB) applications called RFID Line owned and franchisee Burger King to customers,” said Toshiba TEC’s of Business Application Software Vendor restaurants throughout the region. CEO Masamichi Kusunoki. “In a Matrix. Xterprise was ranked as the top For the new Whopper Bar EPOS time of economic strain, it is more software company in the RFID application solution, Toshiba TEC has installed important than ever for business marketplace. The study focused on a small and will maintain hardware and partners to be able to provide group of leading, highly-specialised software, including four WILLPOS outcome-focused, coordinated vendors that offer LOB software solutions A20 EPOS terminals, four cash solutions and services.” targeting a broad range of applications drawers, four credit card machines, within asset and item management. four TRTST-A15 double sided guest Further info printers, two CRT screens, two Fashion software provider Pebblestone has Linerless Sandwich printers and two formed a UK partnership with QSSD, a Microsoft Dynamics solution specialist, to bring together fashion specific functionality and ERP tools. Together the companies will offer fashion tools based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV technology designed to enable fashion retailers, designers, distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers to increase the effectiveness of their core design, operation, distribution, and retail activities through one integrated solution. The Whopper Bar is a smallscale version of a Burger King, and allows UK brand consultant Nucleus is to use customisation of burgers EpiServer’s award-winning Web content management system (CMS) for the P&O SUPPLY CHAIN Cruises Web site. The Microsoft .NET-based system will be used initially to replatform and introduce usability enhancements to Nucleus found it EMS drives forward with best matched P&O Cruises’ challenging requirements as it is both user-friendly and Dynamics NAV intuitive, leading to a significant cut in development time. Automotive component supplier ageing and expensive-to-run legacy Electronic Motion Systems (EMS) system with a single company-wide US tour operator Collette Vacations has supplies control modules and solution which was fully integrated engaged with DataArt, a high-end systems for power conversion and across all areas of our business,” software development company electric motor drive markets. It has said EMS general manager, Rolf headquartered in New York, to help recently installed Microsoft Dahlmanns. “We had a real modernise its corporate information Dynamics NAV with help from problem with data duplication. system and to extend existing functionality Anglia Business Solutions. Some of our key business processes to better support business processes and The project, valued at £300,000, such as MPS and MRP were reliant the user experience. Built on Microsoft and completed in just four months, on information held in various .NET, the new system allows purchasing was a 55 concurrent user single repositories outside the core services from inventory suppliers, wrapping phase deployment of Microsoft system. Now we have a single tour components into packages, Dynamics NAV. The end-to-end integrated solution to manage all of distribution over the agent network, and supply chain solution covered our processes. This provides easy in-field support for Collette Vacations’ tour financials, inventory, warehouse and efficient access to managers. management and manufacturing. It management information on how also included a state-of-the-art the business is performing. integrated warehouse mobility solution designed to provide real Further info time stock information. “EMS needed to replace an 12 Retailspeak AUTU M N 2009
  8. 8. HOSPITALITY lead story Reaching out As hotels search for new ways to keep their customers satisfied, Rebecca Lambert looks at one hotel in the US that appears to have created the ultimate guest experience Good customer service is the the Epic offers a full complement of digital lifeblood of any business and a top services from technology solution provider priority for hotels looking to SuiteLinq to guests throughout the property, safeguard their future and keep creating an in-room and on-site environment guests coming back. And at the heart of good that is just like home – only better. Better still, customer service is forming a personal the technology also serves as a key relationship with each customer – a communicator between hotel and customer. relationship that the individual customer feels In each of the 411 rooms and suites, US- they would like to pursue and one both parties based SuiteLinq has installed customised can benefit from. thin-client computers and flat-panel digital TVs These days, customers can stay in a hotel running the company’s three core products: and have very little interaction with the SuiteLinq, a customised interactive portal establishment. You book your stay over the offering high-speed Internet access and a Internet; when you get to the hotel you might variety of hotel services; SuiteVOD, which talk to the front desk staff or concierge while delivers a variety of pay-per-view video-on- you check in, but after that you are pretty demand (VOD) content delivered in standard much in your room or going about your and high-definition formats through an business. Hotels are finding it increasingly hard Internet protocol (IP) network; and SuiteCast, to make the personal connection that is an which delivers free-to-guest broadcast and essential part of earning the customer’s repeat cable TV channels. business. And because of this, neither When selecting a technology provider to customer nor hotel is achieving true value install its digital amenities, Epic’s management from each stay. was looking for a personalised, scalable and In Miami in the US, though, one new hotel completely integrated product. Kris Singleton, has embraced technology as a means of Kimpton’s vice president technology and chief connecting with its guests. Kimpton Hotels & information officer, says: “I knew that multi- Restaurants’ recently opened Epic Hotel, media and especially video-on-demand was located on the bank of the Miami river, has changing and would be totally different in the gone to great lengths to create a superior near future. The costs of VOD top-end equip- guest experience and as a result, has seen ment along with the distressed economy were customer satisfaction rise to new levels. challenging several providers. We looked at Alongside its stunning architectural design, multiple providers and selected SuiteLinq for shimmering pools and luxury services including the Epic Hotel. We reviewed the product an on-site spa, in-room spa treatments, and a offering with Epic ownership and opened with variety of dining and lounging destinations, the SuiteLinq system in December 2008.” 14 Retailspeak AUTU M N 2009 AUTU M N 2009 Retailspeak 15
  9. 9. lead story should look familiar to any guest walking into their room. Most importantly for Epic, it serves as a key marketing tool for the hotel. “The SuiteLinq portal is our original product and one that we have been working on for some time now,” Ziegler says. “When guests sit down at the computer and log on, they will see images of the hotel and its logo – they’re stepping into an environment that is very much about the Epic, not about SuiteLinq. We are essentially in the background; we are white labelling our services to the hotel.” According to Ziegler, the portal works very much like a Web site, but takes customer interaction to the next level. Over and above the standard, expected services it delivers, such as Internet access so guests can check their e-mail, SuiteLinq delivers functionality that helps the hotel communicate and market directly to its customers. “We deliver the unexpected,” says Ziegler. “SuiteLinq provides very detailed information about the amenities one can find at the hotel such as the restaurant and the spa. These “We allow hotels to get away from the days, such amenities are very important to the WITH REGARDS TO MICROSOFT, THERE’S A GREAT different silos of technologies that they have hotel in driving more revenue out of every CREDIBILITY FACTOR THERE. IN OUR EARLY DAYS to deal with. They might have to deal with guest stay. So, we help promote to the guests one vendor for VOD, another for Internet during their stay, which is obviously the best WE WORKED HARD TO COMPETE AGAINST SOME connectivity, another vendor for this and that; time to get their attention. BIG NAMES IN THE HOSPITALITY SPACE AND IT’S there are just too many vendors, too many “Unlike our competitors, we don’t just different services. It’s a real pain point for deploy technology. We approach our services GREAT TO HAVE A PARTNER LIKE MICROSOFT hotels,” says SuiteLinq’s president, Craig and our products as extensions of marketing BEHIND YOUR SOLUTIONS Ziegler. “Our main differentiator is that we activities of the brand and the property. This integrate all these platforms, all these visual gives us a real advantage. We are not services, into one solution delivered by technologists per se, we’re really marketers Craig Ziegler, SuiteLinq SuiteLinq, but backed up by some real that apply technology strategically to help heavyweight suppliers and partners like hotels achieve their goals. So, this desktop Microsoft.” platform is really the first step in opening up a SuiteLinq’s association with Microsoft was a dialogue with guests during their stay. It is a big factor in Epic’s decision-making process, great means for the hotel to serve up and having such a credible and renowned advertising and marketing promotions on a technology provider contributing significantly very customised level to the guests when they to SuiteLinq solutions’ back-end functionality are most inclined to be making purchasing is something Ziegler understands is important decisions for dining, entertainment, and for reassuring customers. related items.” “With regards to Microsoft, there’s a great Some of the ways Epic can market directly credibility factor there. In our early days we to its customers include using a message worked hard to compete against some big centre in the portal, which is very much like names in the hospitality space and it’s great an e-mail system. It allows hotel staff to send to have a partner like Microsoft behind your messages on a one-to-one or one-to-many solutions,” he says. “Plus, when we’re talking basis to guests. For instance, if someone has to prospects it’s often a long complicated come to stay in the Epic Hotel and it is known process to get a big hotel brand on board. that they are a loyal customer, the hotel When you’re talking to CIOs and CTOs, they might want to send a special message inviting recognise the stack of Microsoft applications them down for a dinner promotion or offering our products are built on and that makes another nice touch that just says ‘welcome them feel a whole lot better. They know our back, we know who you are and we thank you solutions are reliable, but also scalable; they for returning’. The hotel also has the know they’re not going to be obsolete in a functionality to send a message out to a few years.” group of customers based on a code that can SuiteLinq’s core product is a main feature in be pulled from the reservation system on site. Epic’s technology offering. The Web-based So, if a convention is being held and guests SuiteLinq portal is specifically designed for use staying there are spread out in different in hotels and runs on a customised, hotel rooms all over the hotel, staff can just branded miniature desktop computer that integrate with the system, target them with 16 Retailspeak AUTU M N 2009
  10. 10. lead story the group code and send a personalised THE INSTALLATION HAS PROVIDED US WITH attraction listings. This boosts potential hotel and reviewing the great amenities offered.” message telling them all the information they revenue as well as providing for customer And the future of the partnership between EXPOSURE TO THE TECHNOLOGY OPPORTUNITIES need, including when and where the needs. All these extra services and details the two companies looks bright. Full SuiteLinq conference is being held. FIRST HAND WITH CUSTOMER FEEDBACK create a ‘wow’ factor, which is proven to drive services are planned to be implemented at a “As you can see, we offer very customised guest loyalty and return visits. new Kimpton hotel in Philadelphia in the US, REGARDING THE USE OF THE DESKTOPS IN THE messaging features, but we also offer some Ziegler believes offering such digital which is due to open in October this year, and broader advertising features that are ROOMS. WE ALSO RECOGNISED SAVINGS IN amenities is a compelling competitive another new hotel in the US in Baltimore, due supported in the SuiteLinq portal,” Ziegler advantage in today’s challenging environment. to be opened this summer, will feature PRINTED HOTEL MATERIALS MEETING OUR GREEN says. “All this helps the hotel recognise its “When guests use our digital platforms and SuiteVOD services. “SuiteLinq has been customers, make their experience better and INITIATIVES services, they know that this hotel is going important in helping us market our hotel market to them smarter. And that’s just the above and beyond for them,” he says. “That amenities, services, and Kimpton brand desktop application.” translates into increased loyalty and revenue philosophies and core pillars,” concludes Kris Singleton, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Provided alongside SuiteLinq is SuiteCast for the property.” Singleton. “With several new Kimpton hotel and SuiteVOD. With primary functions as a “The installation has provided us with builds in the pipeline as well as legacy premium free television channel service and a exposure to the technology opportunities first property revamps, we look forward to video-on-demand service respectively on the hand with customer feedback regarding the continue working with SuiteLinq and installing large screen television in each hotel room, use of the desktops in the rooms,” says its products that have already made such a they are also very interactive, branded to the Singleton, commenting on the benefits strong and positive impression on the guest. property and increasingly can support a variety Suitelinq has provided. “We also recognised “At all our hotels there is a complete focus of marketing activities with the SuiteLinq savings in printed hotel materials meeting our on creating a memorable guest stay. desktop application. As well as its easy-to-use green initiatives. By providing easy access to SuiteLinq’s services are the perfect electronic programme guide and multiple information about Kimpton Hotels & complement to the environment we strive to language support, SuiteVOD features local Restaurants online, it offers convenience to create. Its innovative solution makes sense for services such as room service and local the guest for searching our other properties our guests and ultimately for our bottom line.” Fascinating Shopping Experiences with our New POS Solution K3 are the retail people. Here to ensure you overcome your challenges, whether in customer service, inventory management or throughout the entire multi-channel customer experience. All through a suite of powerful retail applications, based on Microsoft Dynamics. Delivered as focused-point solutions, or as part of a wider Retail ERP project, our expertise will dramatically enhance any area of your business, from shop front to back office. Be all you can be. Connect with K3 multi channel retailing. 0870 160 1841 |
  11. 11. MULTI-CHANNEL feature The constant retailer Retailers know that in order to reach a broader customer base, they need to embrace multiple sales channels. Lindsay James looks at the issues facing retailers in defining and executing a multi- channel strategy that will carry them into the future In today’s retail environment, self service systems that purchasing at the sales counter is just not only resonate with the one of many ways of doing business. tech savvy but also spread With the arrival of the Internet, the retailers’ reach to the customers can not only purchase online in the less mobile, aging population. comfort of their own home, but also on-the-go Retailers are able to reach each generation via their mobile device. The in-store with a range of complimentary online services, purchasing experience has also evolved, with goods and products.” an ever-growing number of self-service The Internet has clearly had a huge impact checkouts and kiosks making an appearance in on the current retail landscape, and the supermarkets and speciality retail outlets alike, emergence of Web 2.0 and social networking teamed with interactive POS, digital LCD is changing the industry further. “The retail screens and even innovative touch experience as a whole has changed,” says technologies such as Surface. Dominic Citino, Microsoft’s industry market “This diverse selling environment is a world development manager for the retail industry. apart from the offerings of retailers twenty “The Internet has become a huge part of years ago, when a multi-channel business consumers’ daily lives, and is having a very meant two or three channels – the physical visible effect on the way people shop, and the store, a catalogue and maybe a call centre,” way retailers do their business.” says Russell Dorset of Maginus. “Now With the power of the Internet, consumers traditional retailers need to compete online in can carry out research about a product online order to survive, and to do that they need to before they buy, gaining insight from forums, work in a completely different way from what review sites and social networking portals they’ve been used to.” which will influence their purchasing decisions. “With the arrival of the Internet and the They can then choose to buy online or in- Internet generation, retailers have had to store, depending on where they can get the develop new channels for customers,” says best deals. “Many customers are using Mark Ryan, EMEA retail sales leader at multiple sales channels for a single Honeywell Scanning and Mobility. “The transaction,” says Citino. “They will use the younger generation are natural Internet users Internet to get all the information they need, and retailers have an opportunity to build and then quite often for bigger items such as deep relationships with these customers by an LCD TV they will go into the store to see using a variety of technologies to provide the the product in the flesh and to buy. This most convenient shopping environment. In an means that customers expect the same offers effort to target new and different audiences, and the same experience, whichever channel retailers are turning to the Internet, kiosks and they choose.” 20 Retailspeak AUTU M N 2009 AUTU M N 2009 Retailspeak 21
  12. 12. feature CUSTOMER SOLUTION “Today’s customers have higher damage years of hard work in-store. A refusal expectations than ever before,” says Columbus by poorly engaged store staff to deal with CMR Institute, US IT’s Morten Sælemyr. “They want the same problems caused online can mean customers CMR Institute is a business designed offers and the same product ranges whatever go elsewhere. around the delivery of educational channel they choose, and they want “Worryingly up to 30 per cent of retailers in content via books and CDs. The company consistency in the service they receive.” some sectors have still to offer an online realised that it had to bring its business “Customers have come to expect a very shopping alternative to their customers. Many online to meet customer demand, deliver flexible buying experience, and the ability to so-called ‘multi-channel’ retailers actually offer new offerings faster, and reduce costs. chop and change from channel to channel to a multiple channel experience. Joined-up With assistance from Ironworks, CMR suit their own needs,” says Ryan. “For example, multi-channel retailers are still the exception Institute implemented a new e-learning if an item is out of stock, a customer can check rather than the norm. For those brick and solution based on Microsoft software. the kiosk in-store and order it to be delivered so mortar retailers who have embraced the The company’s move online enables he or she doesn’t need to return when an item online alternatives the challenge is to leverage customers to easily interact with learning is in. Conversely, often an incorrect or their high street presence with joined up materials, request new courses, track unwanted item can be exchanged in a store experience for the customer that begins to progress, and more. For CMR Institute, instead of having to post it back to the retailer.” recognise the lifetime value of each customer the move to an online solution is These high customer expectations, teamed and the complexity of their shopping enhancing the company’s bottom line by with the ever-expanding universe of channels, engagements.” enabling it to offer more courses, deliver are posing challenges for retailers both “Today’s retailers face many challenges in new content faster, and reduce costs—all strategically and technologically. Many determining and executing a multi channel through a solution that is reliable and retailers lack agility because they are held back strategy,” says Citino. “All of these challenges easy to manage. by many different legacy systems that don’t are caused by spaghetti infrastructures that lack connect with each other. integration and scalability. A lack of integration “Perhaps the single biggest challenge for a and overall misalignment across channels can brick and mortar retailer moving into a multi- cause negative customer experiences that are channel is the potential to disappoint extremely difficult to recover from.” customers by delivering an inconsistent In order to succeed in today’s retail shopping experience across different environment, and keep up with the pace of channels,” says K3’s Nigel Stephenson. “Real change, retailers need to look at their and lasting damage to a retailer’s brand can technology systems as a whole, bringing be caused when retailers take a piecemeal together every aspect of the retail operation approach to implementing the multi-channel to get a single view of the customer and to strategy. A poor experience online can deliver consistency. 22 Retailspeak AUTU M N 2009