Sandeep Bhanote is CEO of Global Bay Mobile Technologies, a provider of next generation mobile retail software to top retailers including Guess Jeans, True Religion, City Sports and many others. For more information, visit globalbay.com or follow @GlobalBay on Twitter.
In a commercial environment dominated by online and mobile shopping, it’s only fitting that the iPad is leading a brick and mortar renaissance to recreate in-store excitement. Across the industry, everyone from retailers to restaurateurs have devised new ways to create brand loyalty, generate sales and enrich customer experiences.
It’s too early in the game to measure concrete ROI and bottom line effectiveness that the iPad has generated for retailers. While iPad retail integration is still in its formative stages, here are seven businesses at the forefront of the iPad retail wave that have leveraged the device in unique, innovative ways.
1. Customization Kiosks
When you see an electronic kiosk in a store, how often do you actually want to get your hands on it? Probably rarely. Traditional kiosks are usually slow and bulky. Things Remembered, a personalized gift store, has ushered in a new era of the self-service “kiosk.”
Things Remembered is one of the first retailers to allow customers to design their own gifts on in-store iPads. The once paper-based process has been streamlined through the iPad, offering self-designed engraving and adding some excitement to the shopper's experience.
2. Pre-Flight Entertainment
The Delta terminal at JFK airport may be the exception to the normal headache of air travel. The airline installed almost 140 iPads at its gates, so passengers can order food and drink or simply peruse digital entertainment.
Delta's iPads have no time restrictions or ordering minimums, allowing passengers to happily pass time waiting in the terminal. As Delta travelers order Caesar salads or swipe through the People magazine app, the customers' iPad-driven satisfaction is easy to see.
3. Restaurants 2.0
New York City’s 4food has aptly integrated the iPad into the restaurant dining experience. 4food's customers select from iPad-hosted menus and customize their orders via the devices right at their tables.
4food is just one of several iPad-embracing restaurants popping up across the country and we certainly hope to see more of this tasty technology integration.
4. Creating Local Connections
Sports retailer City Sports joined the iPad bandwagon by weaving the device into the fabric of its Washington, D.C. concept store. In addition to accessing product information, City Sports' iPad kiosks allow customers to connect to specific local content such as running clubs and area events.
5. Complete Collections
J.C. Penney, one of the oldest department stores in the world, is proving it can stay relevant by using iPads as part of its “findmore” experience. Sales associates in 50 J.C. Penney fine jewelry departments can now showcase the company's full offerings of bridal jewelry, rather than just what's available in any given location.
6. Digital Designing
Puma is using iPads to allow its customers to design their own sneakers right from its stores. The in-store iPad station, dubbed The Creative Factory, connects Puma wearers around the globe through an app for comparing sneaker designs and learning about the lives of the shoes' creators. Stations can be found in Europe, Asia and Africa but are not yet available in the U.S.
7. Personal Concierge
Among the state-of-the-art amenities at the just-opened Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel is an iPad embedded at the hotel registration counter. During the registration process, guests can virtually explore the hotel’s facilities, restaurants, music venues and bars. The iPad is simultaneously a marketing tool for the property and an impromptu day planner for its guest.