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Retail cashes in on technology

Hamish Barwick | Jan. 18, 2012
The Australian retail sector has been doing it tough of late with the triple whammy of a strong dollar, consumers increasing their purchases from overseas-based online retailers and the two-speed economy.

To overcome this expected problem, Hoyts is in talks with its operational team to see how they can prevent people from going out with their phone and trying to sneak back a friend or two.

He says the movie exhibition industry as a whole wants to move to electronic tickets because picking up a paper ticket is seen as more of an inconvenience these days.

"If we can take that [inconvenience] away and help people to have a better experience at Hoyts, than that is something we want to do with whatever technology we implement," he says.

Henry says the company is keeping an eye on streaming media because while it is not as mature as the US online ordering business, Netflix, yet the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) could change this due to increased download speeds.

"People also have the perception that they can rent a movie at home for a few dollars and watch it on their home entertainment system so our focus is how we deliver better products and services" he says. Part of its bid to compete with home entertainment systems was investing in huge screens with 7.1 surround sound which "shakes the seat" from the bass frequencies.


Like many of Australia's major retailers, furniture giant IKEA has realised self service kiosks are the way of the future -- as well as being integral to the IKEA concept.

The company's Australian marketing relationship manager, Mark Tsen, says the self service approach is at the core of keeping price tags as low as it can.

Tsen says IKEA has a wide range of kiosks in stores ranging from product availability and location through to design and decision making tools, as well as the kiosk for 'IKEA family' where members can view offers, manage their account details and book seminars.

According to Tsen, there is a healthy level of usage and time spent by customers using the kiosks.

Commenting on its supply chain and stock back end systems Tsen says the company does not use RFID or near field communications (NFC) yet, and still relies on the traditional barcode on pallets and individual products.

"We have recently implemented a wirelessly connected device that handles end to end product replacement," he says. "The technology alongside the process change, has increased restocking time, stock availability, as well as stock level accuracy."

While IKEA in Australia does not have an online shopping presence -- it, like major retailers views the in-store experience as central -- it has utilised online tools, namely Facebook and Twitter, to build and serve its customer base. According to Tsen, IKEA's Facebook community has 80,000 members and there's also a healthy amount of interaction which takes place on this page, ranging from customer service issues, to questions about store openings.


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