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Luxury brand, luxury tech: Why Rituals opted for Apple when going mobile

Rituals has introduced Apple devices across its operations.

Luxury cosmetics and beauty retailer Rituals’ recent decision to roll out Apple devices across its operations owed as much to style as technological capabilities, according to the company’s IT architect.

The Europe-wide brand recently worked with mobile management company Jamf to introduce 650 Macbooks, 700 iPads, 650 iPhones and 1500 iPods across its 670 stores. The full roll-out follows a pilot of 20 MacBook devices in their corporate headquarters in 2016.

Staff can use the iPads to order products and access store inventory. They also provide access to company material such as training and newsletters.

Meanwhile, the iPod touch devices offer a mobile point of sale system and can be used to scan products coming into the store to maintain an accurate inventory. Additional functions include pairing with devices such as skin analysers to provide skin care recommendations.

The firm can manage the devices centrally, including rolling out updates across the inventory, using Jamf’s solution.

But it was not just a technological decision. According to Joost van der Zwaan, IT Infrastructure Architect at Rituals, the reputation of Apple as a luxury brand was also crucial.

“The point-of-sales were [previously] Windows desktops, big traditional systems,” he tells InternetRetailing. “We felt they should look more fancy and fit our products.”

According to van der Zwaan, the aim was to find something that fit with the specific aesthetics of the stores, which present products in stylish black.

The choice ended up being between Apple and Microsoft. In the end, he says, Apple won out because of its simplicity.

“We were looking for a more simple-to-control tablet. Microsoft is a whole operating system, a whole Windows workplace. We want something that everybody can control. You don’t need knowledge to control an iPad.”

For most of the retailer’s applications, the shift was fairly smooth. Van der Zwaan says that 70 percent were already web-based so can simply be accessed via the tablet’s browser. Some minor changes were required to fit with the device’s specifications, such as the size of the display.

For the remainder, the retailer had to make some changes. For example, the existing point of sale product was designed for Microsoft platforms, so Rituals selected another product from a different supplier. This only affected the visual content for the end user rather than anything in the back end IT system.

Now, says van der Zwaan, the retailer “only accept[s] suppliers that have apps that are ready for Apple iOS and OSX devices. The market is growing fast; most suppliers have an iOS-ready solution available.”

Rituals has been able to take advantage of the built-in features of the devices. Store staff can use the camera to scan barcodes or show customers videos. Jamf’s platform allows devices to be automatically enrolled and configured with the necessary features for wherever they will be used, whether in the warehouse or shop floor.

The retailer has also found ways to built resilience into the system.

“The most important feature on the pos is that it can work offline,” says van der Zwaan. “It can run four hours without internet. So we can do a payment without internet and whenever we have internet it synchronises with the database.

“Of course, the pin device needs internet but that one has a sim card with 4G.”

It is too early to get any feedback from staff or customers on how the project is going, van der Zwaan says. But the retailer seems determined to make the most of the capabilities of mobile.

Image credit: Rituals

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