Tuesday, 19 February 2013 16:23

Motorola in Australian retail wireless trials

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Motorola Solutions is undertaking trials with major Australian retailers of a range of customer engagement technologies.

The ‘proof of concept’ trials are being conducted at a number of Australian retailers. These retailers are unnamed, but are believed to include Bunnings (owned by Wesfarmers).

The trials include the use of a wireless ‘smart badge’, imaginatively called the SB1, a kind of mini terminal a salesperson can wear on a lanyard or stick in their pocket. Motorola’s blurb explains how it works:

“Help every one of your associates [that means sales staff] better serve customers with the SB1 Smart Badge. A brand new category of mobile device, the SB1 is worn around the neck, on a belt or arm and not only allows shoppers to identify associates, but also enables associates to scan bar codes and to answer customer questions on price or inventory.

“And with a task management application, workers can access their own task list and supervisors can monitor task status — all in real time. The result? More productive associates ready to turn shoppers into buyers.”

Gary Starr, Motorola Solutions’ ANZ managing director, says the SB1 is just one aspect of Motorola Solutions’ emphasis on retail. “All retailers are increasingly looking at how they can use technology to better engage with their customers.

“There is a lot of talk of ‘omnichannel’ marketing where a customer gets a consistent experience across all channels to market – online, in store, etc. We believe we can greatly enhance the in store experience with various wireless technologies like mesh and better analytics.”

Retail is one of three verticals that Motorola Solutions is concentrating on in Australia, along with mining and health. Health is a global focus, but mining is particular to Australia. Applications include the remote monitoring of large mining trucks to ensure they follow the most direct route. “With each tyre on these trucks is worth $250,000, their more efficient operation can save a lot of money,” says Starr.

Motorola Solutions is the core Motorola wireless and communications company that remained after the sale of Motorola Mobility to Google in 2011. Motorola Networks was also sold to Nokia Siemens Networks, leaving Motorola Solutions as a still large company that now has US$8.7 billion and 22,000 staff. Headquartered outside of Chicago, it has been profitable every quarter since spinning off its other divisions.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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