BEAUTY CARE

Boots UK, IBM collaboration brings omnichannel functionality into the store

BY Michael Johnsen

LONDON – Boots and IBM on Wednesday announced that Boots has launched Sales Assist, an IBM MobileFirst for iOS app, across its U.K. stores to make it easier and simpler for customers to get hold of the products they need.

“At Boots UK we’re investing in innovative new technology to further improve the retail experience for our customers, and mobility is at the forefront of this transformation,” stated Robin Phillips, director of omnichannel and development at Boots UK. “By developing Sales Assist, in collaboration with IBM and Apple, and launching it on the 3,700 iPads in our stores, we’re integrating our digital and in-store presence to deliver an even better shopping environment for customers," she said. "The unique tool allows our colleagues to quickly show product information, ratings and reviews, look up inventory online and make recommendations based on online analytics, all from the shop floor. It will help even our smallest stores feel like a flagship shop, with access to the entire Boots range at their fingertips.”

The new app taps into the product databases on boots.com with iPad, and uses its analytics to enable colleagues to easily make personal recommendations to customers, such as additional items or alternatives available, as well as view item location and online inventory. If a product is not in stock in store, the Boots colleague can simply use the app to locate the item in another Boots store nearby or offer to order the product online to be collected in the store of their choice the next day.

“Together, IBM and Apple are working with companies and real industry professionals to change how companies do business, and our collaboration with Boots UK is delivering a more contemporary approach to customer service,” said Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager, Apple partnership, IBM. “By empowering its colleagues with up-to-date data and product information delivered to the Apple device, Boots UK is leading amongst retailers by creating an enriched shopping experience that helps personalize customer engagement and enables faster service.”

IBM is working with Boots UK to further evolve the app and support the retailer’s vision to use mobility to change the way customers shop. Boots UK is part of the Retail Pharmacy International Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance.
 

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Investment firm Snow Phipps acquires ECRM

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON – BV Investment Partners on Thursday announced the sale of ECRM, an integrated services, software and data provider serving consumer product manufacturers and retailers, to Snow Phipps Group.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Over the last three years we have worked closely with CEO Greg Farrar and the management team to execute successfully on our multi-faceted strategic operating plan for ECRM," stated Justin Harrison, managing director BV. "The achievements include increasing attendance at existing EPPS meetings, expanding into new categories, acquiring a complementary outdoor sporting press event business, upgrading the software and creating year-round client engagement through the creation of unique content and revising the sales model," he said. "Greg and his team also successfully scaled and sold ECRM’s data business during the course of our ownership. We’re very pleased with the outcome of these efforts for both our investors and ECRM’s clients and employees.”

“After being recruited by BV at the time of its investment, we quickly put our heads together to architect the blueprints for the company’s growth strategy," Farrar said. "I’m proud of the work we did together and look forward to continuing to lead this organization and to providing exceptional service to our clients and industry partners.”

Co-founded by Ian Snow and Ogden Phipps in 2005, Snow Phipps generally targets companies in attractive sectors or sub-sectors and then utilizes its operating partners and management teams to seek to raise these companies to higher levels of growth and performance. "We consider ourselves to be constructive partners, not only financial investors," the firm states on its web page. "We believe our collective investment and industry experience enables us to evaluate investment opportunities and effectively work with management teams to execute our shared strategic vision."

Headquartered in New York, Snow Phipps has overseen the deployment of over $1.7 billion of private equity capital and co-investments in 17 platform investments and over 25 add-on acquisitions since inception.

ECRM drives efficiencies in the buying and selling processes between consumer product manufacturers and retailers via its portfolio of highly-focused, Efficient Program Planning Sessions and proprietary software that streamlines interactions between trading partners before, during and after each session. The company serves manufacturers and retailers within a number of key product categories including health and beauty care, general merchandise, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and electronics.

BV acquired the business in July 2013 through a proprietary transaction with the company’s founding family, who maintained a minority position in ECRM.

Robert W. Baird & Co. served as financial advisor and Choate, Hall and Stewart acted as legal counsel to ECRM and BV Investment Partners in this transaction.

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ModiFace allows shoppers to try on and buy lipstick on Facebook

BY Gina Acosta

TORONTO — ModiFace, which creates augmented reality technology for the beauty and medical industries, has launched the world's first conversational beauty adviser for Facebook Messenger.

The ModiFace chatbot, which has expert knowledge of over 5,000 beauty products, enables shoppers to search for their perfect makeup products by conversing with ModiFace and asking questions about color, brand name or shade name. 

"Conversational interfaces are a great fit with shoppers interested in getting beauty advice easily on the go. This will be the first of many steps to expand and improve what is possible for consumers through a chat interface," read a statement on the ModiFace website.

The ModiFace bot utilizes advanced facial tracking and simulation technology, along with ModiFace's experience mapping and understanding beauty products. Once a consumer has found an ideal shade, she can try the product on her own photo by simply taking a photo within Messenger. Users are also able to purchase products directly from the bot, which connects to beauty retailers.

“What we always envisioned is to create the ultimate beauty advisor, and an AR try-on is certainly central to that. But having a conversational interface exactly as you would for a beauty advisor is key,” said Parham Aarabi, founder and CEO of ModiFace, in a recent article on betakit.com. “Beauty is a very social thing, and the ability to converse to find the right beauty products is key. So when Facebook opened up their platform so people can chat with bots, we thought this was perfect for our technology.”

ModiFace has produced makeup try-on apps such as L’Oreal Paris’ Makeup Genius and most recently developed an app for Avon.

 

 

 

 

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