The Omni-Dextrous Future of Retail: Why Marketers Need to Look Online
On the one hand we have the world at our fingertips. And on the other, we have it sitting in the palm or our hands.
This is the hand held generation.
Whilst Internet use generally continues to grow, the surge in hand held activity has been incredible. No fewer than 58 percent of Canadians were browsing hand held in 2012*, and the figure has continued to rise since then.
Fully integrated software packages such as Blackberry’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) bringing content, media and interactive functions together via a single device are at the cutting edge of that hand held revolution.
What’s so impressive is not just that services like MDM allow us to do so much with a single device; it’s that they take on board the social, professional and commercial complexities of how people manage their lives. The hand-held generation is increasingly what we could call omni-dextrous, flitting between the web and the world to integrate the best of both at the brush of a thumb.
Omni-channelling is the marketing industry’s term for addressing multiple channels simultaneously (think online, offline, social media etc.).
It’s worth taking note of, because it’s something we’re going to experience a lot more of – and probably sooner than we expect.
A striking case in point in how it is the retail industry - a sector which has been massively impacted by the web. In 2012 Canadians spent $18.9 billion online; not long ago that money would have gone across a counter somewhere.
Canadians are still more likely to shop in store than they are online, and they are also more likely to do so than their U.S. counterparts, so even allowing for that massive online spend, what happens in bricks and mortar shops still counts for a lot.
But even here hand held devices are making massive impacts. Near Field Communication technology allows a brief scan and a PIN to complete transactions paper-free and in the blink of an eye. But the software is doing more than simply streamlining the checkout process; it is beginning to reshape the whole retail experience.
Firstly, information about who you are, what you buy, how much you spend and what time of day you buy it are all locked into that transaction. That data is hugely valuable to retailers keen to target their offerings to maximum effect.
More directly observable from the customer’s point of view is the potential to do away with standard checkouts and their inevitable queues. Fewer checkouts means extra floor-space; fewer queues means happier customers – both are retail no-brainers.
What is called Mobile Point of Sale makes perfect sense in restaurants, but bringing the same sort of flexibility and mobility into a retail setting allows for a more customised and more personable shopping experience. The quality of that experience matters just as much as how long it takes.
Fully effective use of MDM for retail means that every staff member will know something about every existing customer as soon as they walk in the store, and that can be in terms of what they’ve bought previously - in person or online - or how they engage with the store on social media. Either way it makes for an informed, relevant and targeted sales encounter.
That sort of customised and customer-friendly shopping experience is what makes buying easy – and that, ultimately is what retail is about.
The changing dynamic shaping what happens when we go to the mall is just one example of how – as the hand-held generation - we are becoming ever more omni-dextrous. There are plenty of others.
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”