Industry News - September 20th 2014
RETAIL AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS
Fighting Crime with Mobility
Ask any police officer in the field if he or she enjoys paperwork, and the answer is likely to be a resounding no. That aspect is a big part of the job however. And when the officer is unable to connect to the central database due to wireless problems, it makes an unappealing task even worse —especially when it takes time away from the officer’s primary duty: protecting and serving the public.
The St. Paul Police Department has a large constituency to serve: more than 280,000 residents in a densely populated area of Minnesota, the state’s capital. With 800 employees in three divisions, (Major Crimes, Operations and Administration/Support Services), the department handles more than 200,000 calls annually.
A problem became apparent when officers repeatedly experienced dropped wireless connections. Trying to connect to dispatch or obtain information on suspects was becoming time consuming and frustrating to those just trying to do their jobs. Initially, the IT department thought the dropped connected stemmed from hardware problems. After replacing modems to no avail, IT realized it was really a cellular visibility issue.
“We wanted to know once and for all what was causing the rise in officer help desk tickets,” said Glen Pettit, InfoTech 5, St. Paul Police. “Whether it was user error or a technology or carrier problem, we just wanted to know what to fix and move on.”
After a review, the St. Paul Police chose NetMotion Wireless’ Locality solution to monitor cellular network performance management. The Locality management tool, which works on Android and Windows, (with support for iOS coming in Q4 this year) is designed for all verticals that have employees in the field.
Because Locality provides the user with a visual coverage map, IT is now able to see where coverage is strong and where it is simply non-existent, and categorized by carrier. A timeline also shows when the end user had coverage for the entire workday.
In addition, a device map can be used for one particular worker or just one device, so IT can determine signal qualities along the route. The solution makes it easier for personnel to troubleshoot and adjust. If a wireless card is not in use, for example, it can be assigned to someone who needs it.
Equipped with detailed coverage maps, the department was able to confront its wireless carrier about all the dropped connections. When the provider was unable to improve its service, St. Paul Police moved on; it chose a competitor instead. Officers have reported increased productivity as the coverage areas improved.
Time has also been saved with a decrease in IT support. Going forward, deployments may be possible for fire and medical services, which are managed in the same department. “Beyond verifying what technology needs to be improved, we are now prepared to track the increased number of devices, users, firmware and more,” said Pettit.
New Loyalty Program Upgrade Allows Restaurants to Text Rewards
Granbury Restaurant Solutions (GRS) has announced upgrades to its SalesBuilder Restaurant Marketing System, a fully automated marketing and loyalty solution that integrates seamlessly with point-of-sale systems to make it easy for restaurant owners to track, communicate with and reward their customers via email and text message.
The latest release includes powerful upgrades to the Enterprise management features of the marketing system, including improved reporting tools, improved user management, and easy local store marketing templates with corporate control over broadcast approval and blackout dates.
The loyalty features of the product received an upgrade as well. Message triggers allow restaurant owners to target users based on a variety of behavior factors such as spending levels and time since last visit. Now, the “Near a reward” trigger lets restaurants communicate to customers at a critical point to encourage frequency, and tighter point-of-sale integration with GRS products gives added flexibility to reward customers based on specific products purchased.
New “multi-use” award features allow restaurant owners greater creativity in issuing permanent benefits for customers based on their spending levels or other demographic characteristics.
Restaurant owners can now set “double or triple point” times of day to promote traffic during slower times. The new version also includes an internal multi-store gift card program, which allows restaurant owners to offer pre-paid accounts / cards with no additional processing fees. Gift card holders can be easily invited to join the loyalty program.
CSI Enterprises and M3 Accounting + Analytics Offer New Accounts Payable Solution
A partnership between CSI Enterprises and M3 Accounting + Analytics is now offering an Accounts Payable solution that can provide significant operational savings for hotel properties nationwide.
M3 is the nation’s leading provider of hotel-specific accounting solutions, while CSI has provided innovative payment solutions to some of the world’s most iconic brands. As a result of the partnership, CSI’s globalVCard paysystems, an electronic payment solution, was incorporated into M3’s hosted, back-office accounting platform. The integration is designed to help customers reduce both the hours and the materials required for typical accounts payable processes.
After strong reception from a limited initial offering, the two companies decided to offer this solution to M3’s entire 3,000-plus roster of hotels. In the podcast, leaders of each company talk about the product’s benefits to different sized organizations – with large hospitality operations benefiting more from streamlining, and smaller ones benefiting from having access to capabilities they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Allen Read, president and COO with M3, noted in the interview, "The industry is trending toward electronic payments and efficiencies,” adding that, “we’re always looking for best-in-class solutions, which we found with CSI."
During the interview with PYMNTS.com, David Disque, SVP/Director Operations with CSI, emphasized the “seamless integration” that occurs “when two best-in-class partners work together.” He said clients “literally turn the switch” to start seeing the benefits.
Further detail and the full 20-minute podcast are both available at: http://bit.ly/15Dis5I or at PYMNTS.com.
Top 5 Retail Tech Trends Videos
We all know technology is "cool" and that the more you get your hands on, the more you want. This is especially true for retailers and consumers alike. For retailers, it's about connecting and gaining information to better serve consumers. For consumers, it's all about better service. Retailers must modernize and respond to industry and consumer trends by deploying new technologies.
Here are five videos on retail technology trends and tactics to reach shoppers that are worth watching. The videos selected here have been recently posted and most (not all) were uploaded within a few weeks. So, in no particular order here are my picks for the best five videos about retail tech trends and tactics currently on the Web.
- The Container Store Mobile App Platform Customer Testimonial
Store leadership dashboards are available for The Container Store via a mobile app platform called "The Score" to help the retailer execute its BI strategy.
- Solving Big Retail Challenges with Big Data
Sears Holdings' stakes a claim on the leading edge of big data by embedding Hadoop technology and skillsets throughout the enterprise to reduce inventory, lower costs and boost sales.
- Key Big Data Trends in Retail
How do retailers get their arms around the exponential growth of data today? The ability for a retailer to have instantaneous interaction across the enterprise and with the customer is a high priority.
- Cartwheel by Target
Target puts a new spin on savings by launching a mobile coupons and deals for customers. Through the app customers can share deals via social media, activate deals at checkout and more.
- Retailers Using Technology to Reach Shoppers
Bloomberg provides a report on how retailers are using technology in the push to communicate with customers as well as the transition from e-commerce to e-influence as shoppers turn to mobile.
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