Microsoft’s new operating system Windows 10 launched to much fanfare last summer and since then it has been on the fastest growth trajectory of any version of Windows ever. According to Microsoft, it has outpaced Windows 7 by nearly 140% and Windows 8 by nearly 400%. This demand has been driven not only by consumers but by their Enterprise and Education customers as well. If Microsoft has over 22 million devices globally running Windows 10 across these customers, how are retailers in the UK standing up and taking notice of Windows 10?
I spoke to some of our retail customers, to understand their plans and thoughts around Windows 10. A few of them are already working with us to pilot Windows 10 in their stores, but I was interested in understanding what the rest of our customers were doing. It appears that some of them realise that a move to Windows 10 would be more than just a simple IT upgrade and they believe it could make their workplace and retail operations more productive and improve customer experience.
If we look at the retail community today, retailers are facing a plethora of challenges. Ensuring customer satisfaction continues to be a key issue, as consumers are becoming more and more demanding. Shoppers have more choice as well. They can search for products and make a purchase on any device, anywhere and at any time. They use different social media channels to gather the information they need about the products they are after and get personal recommendations on where to buy. So retailers are also looking for ways to best adapt to the changes in customer buying behaviour. They are rethinking their strategies on how to integrate their mobile, online and offline channels to deliver a truly connected and innovative customer experience.
At the same time retailers are challenged by complex and costly IT support distributed across their retail branches. There’s also the burgeoning threat of data breaches, which can cause a massive risk to customer data and therefore brands and reputations.
And finally, there’s one other important factor retailers have to keep in mind: employees and their growing expectations and demands around the tools and technology provided to them in the workplace. This is being driven by trends such as “consumerisation of IT”. By 2020 half the workforce will be made up of Generation Y, employees who have never known a world without the Internet and have increasingly blurred lines between work and play. This will put even more pressure on employers to keep pace with their expectations if they want to attract the right talent into their organisation.
Faced with all of these challenges, how can Windows 10 help UK retailers? Well, Windows 10 is a big step forward when it comes to empowering workers. This is because Microsoft has developed a platform for everyone, which supports all different device types from Windows smartphones and tablets right through to laptops and desktops PCs.
Central to this is the Universal Apps functionality that enables businesses to develop an application once and run it across all these different devices. This could be an application developed for their own employees or one aimed at both online customers and customers interacting with kiosks in-store.
In my conversations with retailers, we know they are also looking at how mobile devices can be incorporated into their business for their employees – Microsoft’s Windows solutions for Retail page is worth a read for more background on this.
Some retailers are deploying Windows devices to staff on the shop floor, so they can enable shoppers to check out at any place in-store rather than having to queue at the till. Apps can allow their staff to get a comprehensive view of any customer and their purchase history, product information and check stock availability. Microsoft is keen for all users to get on board with Windows 10, so retailers who have already started the hardware upgrade needn’t worry about being left behind.
For retailers, reducing costly IT overheads is always a priority so having an out of the box configuration is an attractive proposition. With Windows 10, rather than sending an IT support person out to a store or warehouse to set up a new tablet or other network device, users need simply to sign into the system with their own credentials and the device will connect to their work systems and configure itself. This will save a significant amount of time and money.
There’s also been a lot interest from retailers on the security side and how Windows 10 will enable the use of biometrics through its Windows Hello feature. The use of a fingerprint reader or facial recognition software to access a mobile device will essentially eliminate the need for passwords. Employees will be able to log into their device and connect to the network much more seamlessly and also securely.
Of course, retailers have questions around Windows 10. They want to know how it will integrate with their existing processes and to understand how any migration to Windows 10 will help reduce the costs and complexity of keystone legacy systems, such as inventory systems, which have served their business well for many years as they have invested time and money in their multi-channel operations.
At Fujitsu we have a long history of working closely with a host of businesses across retail and other sectors to explore how technology can help drive workplace transformation. When it comes to Windows 10 we are already working alongside retail organisations to support them in developing and delivering a roadmap for rollout. So yes, retailers are absolutely standing up and taking notice of Windows 10. And we’re here to help them on the journey.
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