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15

Feb

Helping build the future of retail: Intergen at the NRF Annual Retail Show and Expo

Intergen recently worked with Microsoft and The Home Depot to offer a glimpse of the future of retail at the USA’s National Retail Federation’s 102nd Annual Retail Show and Expo, in New York. This show is the biggest retail show in the world, with all the big names in the retail industry showing their visions of the future. It is well attended by a global audience, including representatives from New Zealand’s own The Warehouse.

USA's National Retail Federation's 102nd Annual Retail Show and Expo

For this event, Intergen developed a host of apps for Microsoft and The Home Depot to show various aspects of Microsoft’s strategic technology presence in the retail store of the future. The exhibit was focused on the theme of Microsoft’s Intelligent Systems, and had a specific focus on Windows Embedded 8 technologies. Shown on a range of industry devices, and based on the updated Windows 8 kernel, Windows Embedded 8 offers many of the same APIs, interfaces and components as Windows 8. A video showcase of these apps is available here:

 

 

One of the apps was used to demonstrate what a desktop for an in-store kiosk might look like, whilst also being able to run the exact same app on a Windows 8 PC in a back-office setting. The app contained links to other apps to expand its abilities beyond the built-in components. In the in-store scenario, the app was deployed to a specially locked down instance of Windows Embedded, creating a secure ‘store floor’ PC that prevented the user from task switching or using the desktop, and by extension any further IT infrastructure resources. This scenario also effectively showed how one might go about utilising Windows Embedded and Windows Store apps for creating kiosks or digital signs. One could potentially even deploy those apps directly to partners and consumers through the Windows Store.

A dashboard-type app, combined with an advanced data-mining scenario based on Excel’s PowerPivot feature, showed off some features a typical store manager may use in the back office. The dashboard offered a glimpse into what may be possible for a store in the future. It showed how an organisation may approach combining physical facilities, like air conditioning, lighting and ventilation with web-based services. It also showed a console for managing open checkouts in various sections of the store, by combining historical data about customer traffic with real time readings from sensors to determine the projected length of checkout queues and average wait times. Finally, the dashboard showcased a way to manage the content displayed in various digital signs through the store.

The Home Depot has been pioneering in the field of connectivity for employees on the store floor using handheld devices, and this event has been used as an opportunity to announce a new range of Motorola enterprise handheld devices running Windows Embedded 8 Handheld. Intergen created a handheld app for The Home Depot that allows their store associates instant access to features like inventory management, task lists, notifications and specific interfaces for managing their BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-store) processes as well as tasks and other store associate activities.

 

Intergen at the NRF Annual Retail Show and Expo

 

Intergen also developed a Point-Of-Sale concept app for the event, to support Windows Embedded 8 Industry running on Point-Of-Sale hardware from a variety of vendors. The app shows how an organisation might view a product catalogue, integrated with the company’s website to show customer reviews and ratings. The app allows the user to compare products, browse current promotions, and search using a variety of filters. The user can also add a product from anywhere in the app to a new transaction, and then easily switch to a Point-Of-Sale page to complete the transaction. This transaction page has been optimised, using the new gesture and touch features of Windows 8, to maximise the speed with which users may add more products to the transaction, and alter prices, discounts and quantities. Allowing the user to specify a customer makes the most of special pricing arrangements, automatically updating fields such as the discount applied to each item. The app can even integrate with loyalty schemes.

The various apps were built by a team of sixteen Intergenites, spread across four cities, in three countries. A difference in time zones allowed work to progress almost 24 hours a day. Great user experience was pivotal to this project, given its highly visual profile at the event, and so a team of designers collaborated with developers for the duration.

The event has been a great success for Intergen, Microsoft, The Home Depot and Motorola. The offerings have received wide acclaim from other industry sources, and paint a vivid picture of just what the future of retail is going to look like. We’d love to talk to you about the many ways these  bleeding-edge technologies can super-charge your retail business.

And parting words from Microsoft’s Jeff Wettlaufer, Technical Program Manager for Windows Embedded Marketing:

“We have used Intergen on a number of projects, and our efforts for New York’s 102nd Annual NRF event were fantastic. We engaged a local Project Manager here in Redmond from Intergen, who dialled us into their dev team located in the southern hemisphere. We utilized various technologies to jointly design, develop and test the demonstrations including Office365, Lync, SharePoint and Windows Azure. We brought the product capabilities and features to the table, and these guys helped us light the value up in compelling demonstration apps that have had huge impact with our Customers, Press and Analysts. These guys are awesome to work with, and despite their New Zealand sense of humour they are just a great group of people!”

Posted by: Hannes Nel, Developer, Enterprise Applications | 15 February 2013

Tags: Microsoft, Intergen, Excel PowerPivot, Windows 8, Retail, Apps, Motorola enterprise handheld devices, NRF Annual Retail Show and Expo, The Home Depot, The Warehouse, Windows Embedded 8 Industry


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