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Best Buy exec: Cloud helps link mcommerce, ecommerce and point-of-sale

May 3, 2012

The Buy Back app from Best Buy

NEW YORK – A Best Buy executive at Aberdeen Group’s Retail and Consumer Markets Summit said that cloud computing is changing the ways that companies are approaching service-oriented architectures by combining all channels into one place.

The executive spoke about the challenges that IT teams face with data during “The Rebirth of Service Oriented Architecture” session. In particular, the session stressed the importance of tying together all parts of a company’s data to get a full 360-degree view of a consumer.

“The cloud has brought back soa into the industry,” said Ian Kelly, senior director of information technology at Best Buy, Richfield, MN.

“With the cloud, you distribute all the data, and it is no longer in your tight data center,” he said.

Comprehensive cloud
Per the executive, data from a company is put together into a network with the cloud, which helps all of a company’s IT department put all of a company’s touch points, including mobile, into perspective.

If a mobile POS goes down in a particular Best Buy store, the go-to place stores ask for information is the company’s service-oriented architecture department.

Therefore, having a central system such as the cloud is crucial to Best Buy’s success.

Also, keeping track of SKU data can be difficult for a retailer the size of Best Buy, which sells thousands of products.

Although a cloud system does keep everything in one place, it also means that if one piece of data is missing, everything can fall apart.

Social media can also prove to be effective at helping IT departments problem solve quickly.

For example, Black Friday is one of the busiest days of the year for Best Buy. Consumers who shopped in-store might tweet a picture of a long line or interact with the company’s account directly, which helps the company know when something is wrong.

Social media also has a real-time benefit to it. In crunch times, even a report that gets sent out every 15 minutes can be too slow.

Mr. Kelly presenting

Mobile customer
According to the executive, the No. 1 cloud vendor is Amazon, which meant that companies are thinking about if they should use Amazon’s APIs in its OpenStacks.

The reality for many companies is that there is not one vendor that can cover everything. It takes many vendors for a multichannel retailer to be successful, and companies should not be afraid of using more than one service.

To educate its staff, Best Buy uses email marketing to educate employees on what service-oriented architecture is, which helps keep everyone on the same page with IT departments.

Another perk of using a cloud-based solution is being able to use data to understand the consumer.

Consumers are shopping on a variety of different channels, and only pulling information from one channel is not accurate in describing a shopper.

Instead, the cloud lets a company include all channels, including mobile, Web and in-store, into one place, which can be particularly effective in building a loyalty program. By linking a consumer’s account number with multiple forms of data, Best Buy is working on finding the best ways to target its Reward Zone loyalty members.

In particular, loyalty program data needs to be kept separate from consumer data. For example, by seeing loyalty-specific data, Best Buy could send a message to only Reward Zone members to drive pre-sale orders of a particular item.

“If you build this system and solution, and you don’t focus on the metrics you will be lost,” Mr. Kelly said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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