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Boots UK teams with IBM, Apple on store app

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The Boots UK drug chain, part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, worked with IBM and Apple to develop a mobile app to enhance the in-store shopping experience.

Called Sales Assist, the IBM MobileFirst for iOS app leverages Apple’s iPad to help make it easier for customers to get the products they need, IBM and Boots said. Boots UK is the first retailer to deploy the app, doing so across its network of more than 2,500 stores in the United Kingdom.

Sales Assist taps into the product databases on Boots.com with iPad and uses its analytics to help Boots store associates make recommendations to customers, such as additional items or other options, plus view item location and online inventory. If a product isn’t in stock in the store, the associate can use the app to locate the item in a nearby Boots store or offer to order the product online, to be picked up in the store of their choice the next day.

“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,” stated Robin Phillips, director of omnichannel and development at Boots UK. “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.”

Boots UK_IBM Sales Assist app

Boots UK’s Vickie Ward helps a shopper using the IBM MobileFirst for iOS Sales Assist app on iPad at the Boots White City store in London.

The companies said the mobile solution can change the way that customers shop by enabling on-the-spot support and information inside stores.

“We worked hard to design the Sales Assist app around the needs of Boots colleagues, and using it gives us the confidence to provide our customers with the most up-to-date advice on products and offers on the spot,” explained Vickie Ward, a Boots customer assistant who provided her in-store experience to help in the design and development of the app. “It helps us to give customers an even better and more personal experience, so no one goes home disappointed.”

Boots is using Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform, to link Sales Assist with the retailer’s applications and data, enabling a high-performance, scalable and flexible hybrid cloud environment. The solution allows the company to quickly deliver recommendations to customers and seamlessly view inventory, among other functions, across Boots.com, which runs on IBM WebSphere Commerce with integration services from IBM Global Business Services.

IBM added that it’s working with Boots UK to further evolve the app.

“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,” according to Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager for the Apple partnership at 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.”


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