Small shops to gain competitive edge thanks to Olivetti and EIT Digital Smart retail initiative

Olivetti has launched a new service that is promising to transform the management of customer relations and loyalty plans for smaller retailers.

The affordable, digital retail solution WCards gives small shops a competitive edge over e-commerce, on-line giants. The service is a market-ready output resulting from work carried out as part of EIT Digital's Street Smart retail initiative, which is delivering several products and services over a three year period.

Retail today is all about omnichannel data – real-time data about customer purchases and interests collected from different channels. Customers are also becoming omnichannel in their thinking and behaviour as they expect to have as seamless an experience in-store as they might have online.

Initially launched in the Italian market at the beginning of October, Olivetti's WCards will provide shop managers who subscribe to the service with an affordable easy to use platform to monitor sales promotion performance, understand and analyse common customer behavioural patterns, and respond with targeted products and services.

Giuseppe Sola, Smart Retail Marketing Pre Sales and Sales Manager from Olivetti said:
"Analytics are being used increasingly by retailers to capture omnichannel opportunities. The EIT Street Smart Retail initiative recognises that and it was through this collaboration that we were able to develop our WCards solution.

Together with the innovation team at the TIM JOL ´S-Cube´ in Milano, Olivetti will be able to design the evolution of this product and add the new features in the future. It will provide an easy to use system for the smaller retailers to capture important sources of data, helping them to provide better customer experience and ultimately change the way they compete with the bigger online retailers "

WCards uses a "Proximity Marketing function" that can be used to send customers sales promotions and product information when they are in front of or inside a shop, or when standing near to specific product. Feedback from the system can also be used to analyse the customer experience of the shop space itself and the areas or products attracting most interest can be identified. In addition to offering a service, WCards is built on the concept of creating a real user community, making product promotions easier, increasing the numbers of customers reached and encouraging customer loyalty.

Petri Liuha, Digital Industry Action line lead of EIT Digital, said: "Today's fast-paced retail business blends physical and online commerce. For small and medium sized retailers there are several challenges. They have to contend with a number of large and aggressive online players and have to keep up with technology which is evolving rapidly. In addition, customer behaviour, expectations and loyalty are inconsistent as promotions and offers are available online all the time at the click of a mouse.

Roberto Saracco, Node Director, EIT Digital Italy, said : "At EIT Digital we strongly believe in a blended world where the digital and physical combine to bring the best of both to people and business. This is a concrete example of our commitment in action. By bringing the digital experience to physical stores we are enhancing shoppers experience and retailers' business."

WCards were borne out of work Telecom Italia and Olivetti carried out as partners in EIT Digital's Street Smart Retail initiative. The initiative is engaging more than 35 researchers and business experts over a three year period, delivering a number of products and services in a portfolio named the Digital Retail Suite.

The aim of Street Smart Retail is to support the competitive advantage of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the new retail landscape, enabling them to leverage opportunities coming from omnichannel retailing including new products, services and the creation of new jobs. The core technology integrates the most advanced solutions on consumer behaviour analytics, customer, relationship management and middleware layer for objects controlling.

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