How Apple is transforming retail

Rituals Cosmetics has migrated its entire business to Apple's solutions, which has reduced costs, increased productivity, and improved customer service.

Apple, Rituals, iOS, macOS, iPhone, iPad, digital transformation, retail
Thinkstock

Launched at the turn of the century, Rituals Cosmetics now has over 670 stores worldwide. And in 2016, it began its migration to Apple solutions all across its business.

An Apple enterprise

In a move that demonstrates just how rapidly the world of retail is switching to Apple, Rituals' Joost van der Zwaan, IT Infrastructure Architect, told me:

“We migrated to Apple because we realized that including modern technology in both our corporate and retail environments would empower an elevated and seamless retail experience for our customers.”

The company didn’t just rush into its Apple deployment — it piloted the solutions first, deploying just 20 MacBooks in its corporate HQ.

Staff reacted positively, and the company experienced time and cost advantages sufficient to convince it to migrate the entire business from PC to Mac.

Within 12 months, Rituals had deployed 650 MacBook models, 700 iPads, 650 iPhones, and 1,500 iPod devices across the firm. It has added another 1,700 systems since.

How does Rituals Cosmetics use its Apple systems?

Rituals uses its Apple systems across its entire business, from iPod touch-toting customer services staff to the MacBook Pro-equipped managerial types.

Customers visiting a Rituals store pay using the mobile point of sale tech on the iPods, which also carry a skin analysis app that helps staff recommend the most appropriate cosmetics. The devices are also used to scan products as they are added to shelves.

The iPads get used in slightly different way — to access training sessions and videos, for reading the company newsletter, and for product ordering and inventory management.

The company says the decision to abandon paper-based processes has reduced overall costs, while the introduction of mobile connected point-of-sale (POS) systems means staff can check customers out on the spot, eliminating queues and enabling a better experience all round.

This kind of mobile retail is becoming increasingly widespread as retailers adopt Apple’s less-formal approach to customer care.

Was Rituals Cosmetics' migration to Apple systems difficult?

Rituals worked with Jamf to migrate its systems. This enabled the company to manage the transition more effectively and informed its approach to feature development and training in use of the new solutions.

One of the big benefits of the move to Apple is a reduction in tech support costs. “We certainly have less support requests” since the migration, explained van der Zwaan. 

In part, this is because the company is working with a third party who can empower staff to manage their own devices.

“With Jamf Self Service, our staff can select relevant apps, maintain their systems, and install applications or updates,” he said.

The company didn’t just adopt Apple kit; it also migrated many of its business processes to the cloud. This has been quite successful in combination with the connected solutions it has deployed, but use of cloud-based systems also gives Rituals an agile and extendible foundation to support its “rapid growth.”

What's next?

The industry is experiencing a phase of rapid evolution.

Not only must retailers now service payments from an increasing number of mobile devices, but technologies in customer management, loyalty and discount provision, and customer relationships are all changing fast. Apple’s Business Chat solution is another example of the changing industry.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are most certainly part of the future of retail

“We think AR and VR will be a big thing in the retail industry. We already have some VR experience in the Rituals shops, and we are closely following the solutions and capabilities that will become available in the near future,” said van der Zwaan.

What about the cost?

There’s little doubt that the notion that big multinational retailers would deploy Apple equipment across their business would have been mocked just a decade ago.

Things have changed. Not only are Apple’s state-of-the-art platforms the tools of choice for most employees, but the company has arranged significant partnerships with enterprise-focused firms to help bridge the narrowing gap between business and consumers.

“Today’s customer expects to communicate with businesses in the same way they do with friends, on whatever channel is most convenient for them.” said Caitlin Henehan, vice president and general manager of Zendesk Chat, when Apple Business Chat was introduced.

At the same time, Apple remains at the high end of the market when it comes to initial purchases. But is this price sticker tension really a big problem?

“Apple hardware is certainly not cheap,” said van der Zwaan. “But I was encouraged by findings of IBM’s recent employee choice program, which showed Macs are less expensive (by $535!) than PCs. The lifespan and low depreciation of the equipment is certainly better than other suppliers, and Apple provides great service when you need a repair on a device.”

Beyond retail, low running costs, good service and high-quality experience are driving Apple’s solutions to seize space across additional industries, from air travel to rail, and beyond.

This digital transformation continues.

Google+ is closing: Hopefully you are already part of the AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community on Google Plus but as Google is closing its social network please join the new MeWe group, Appleholic’s bar & grill. Please also follow me on Twitteras we work to follow the new model Apple.

Got a story? Please drop me a line via Twitter and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know about new articles I publish and reports I find.

Enterprise mobility 2018: UEM is the next step
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon