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IBM-Apple Deal: What it means for retailers


New York -- At first glance, the IBM-Apple partnership may seem to do little more than formalize a connection between two technologies that are mainstays of most retailers’ infrastructures. The fact is many retailers already use Apple iPhones and iPads as devices for in-store activities like product lookup, checkout and inventory management. And IBM is a leading provider of retail data analytics technology.

However, this partnership holds the potential for retailers to offer customers a much more robust and comprehensive omnichannel customer experience. For example, store employees could perform real-time “deep dive” analysis to uncover product-, location- and demographic-specific cross- and upsell offers that may resonate beyond offers based solely on purchase history.

Also, real-time targeted offers could take up-to-the-minute sales patterns into account, allowing retailers to better move overpriced merchandise before margin-eroding markdowns and clearances become necessary. Customers curious about what items other people are buying or using in conjunction with each other can get a fast, honest and unbiased answer. This kind of advanced analysis performed on mobile device at the point of customer contact both enhances customer satisfaction and boosts profits.

In addition, it is not insignificant that Apple and IBM are both leaders in providing leading-edge functionality in their respective categories. Apple essentially invented the tablet market and is at the forefront of providing smartphones that serve as sophisticated mobile computing devices rather than portable communication tools.

And with pioneering efforts like its Watson artificial intelligence platform, IBM has long been at the forefront of analytics and business intelligence. Having IBM analysis delivered through Apple mobile solutions may prove to be the best of both worlds for retailers looking to take a leading role in providing an omnichannel experience that delights and serves the customer.

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