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Pop-up stores: a great science experiment

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Pop-up stores can be found in nearly every mall. In addition to the fun-factor, these stores offer an opportunity to capture customer behavior patterns which can establish what works and what doesn’t, writes PATRICK MAPHOPHA of NetApp.

Enter any mall today and you are likely to come across the latest retail fad – the pop-up store. With the concept of ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ at its centre, this fresh, novel and creative concept has taken the world by storm. According a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research entitled Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy Report, the pop-up retail sector generated over £2.3 billion in turnover over the past 12 months in the UK alone. Additionally the report showed that 44% of consumers have visited a pop-up shop in the last 12 months.

South Africa is no exception, as many international brands have opened their doors in the form of the pop-up store to test the unique market and gain brand exposure. For example, a well-known ice cream brand was one of the first to set up a pop-up shop in Johannesburg, offering customers the opportunity to experiment with flavours like crumbed chocolate cupcake, mint shortcake, chocolate brownie and frosted rose petals.

Pop-up stores are so much more than trivial creativity – they are also a science experiment

Despite its ‘fun’ factor, the pop-up store is far more than just a creative, novel idea – it is also an opportunity to capture vital customer behavioural and spending patterns through an integrated cloud point. That data can establish what works and what doesn’t, and determine whether a permanent store should be established in a particular market. In other words, a new company introducing their offering in an agile way via pop-up stores can experiment with consumer confidence. If enough growth or success materializes, the steps towards a permanent location may be taken.

According to the IDC’s Retail Insights Top Ten Predictions Report, no less than 40% of new retail applications purchased will be deployed in the cloud to speed and secure business objectives in 2017. In addition, according to the Big Data in Global Retail Market Report, which was commissioned by NOVONOUS, big data in the global retail market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 35%.

The cloud has the silver lining

A smart data solution is therefore integral to make the most of the pop-up opportunity by offering management, durability and analytics capabilities. Last year, Netapp announced new updates to its solutions portfolio for the Data Fabric, an abstraction layer to improve, control and simplify the movement of data in the hybrid cloud.

One option allows shop owners, for example to massively accelerate the movement of large data sets into Amazon Web Services (AWS) for data analysis. Once processed, the analysed data can be brought back on-premises if required. And just like the pop-up shop the service can be purchased on a ‘pay as you go’ basis which means it can be easily turned on and off as needed. Other options include the ability to use the same consistent data management both on-premises and in the public cloud – meaning that data can be controlled and accessed wherever it’s needed most. And finally, once data “cools”, meaning it is not accessed and analysed regularly any more, the same functionalities provide efficient backup to the cloud to help address compliance and data protection requirements.

In short, shop owners may leverage the benefits of the hybrid cloud and analytics applications as a service to determine aspects like buyer behaviour, identify market opportunities, adapt research and development, and manage data with business value holistically. Through the provision of these dedicated applications, store owners can even go so far as to connect the pop-up store experience in real time. For example, retailers could engage with buyers at the POS.

Taking the pop-up store to the next level

Once a foundational cloud portfolio has been established, the pop-up store can be transformed into a data collection machine. A global example that illustrates this was the recent campaign launched by a pet store in the US called Barkshop Live, which specialises in animal-antic toys. In order to test their products, they invited dog owners and their furry counterparts to test out their chewable offerings in person. Data was then collected around which toys were favoured via RFID-enabled vests that were fitted around the dogs. The data collected and stored through the cloud allowed the retailer to determine the bestselling products in order to increase turnover figures.

Pop-up stores are a great way to test the market before making a total investment commitment. As customer data increases towards the brontobyte, the time to control, manage, secure and move data across on-premises and public cloud resources has never been more prevalent. The evaluation of customer data could spell the evolution of the pop-up store towards a permanent feature – whether it’s through an online domain or a traditional bricks and mortar store.

  • Patrick Maphopha, SE manager for Africa at NetApp.

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Epic Games brings a
Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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How to take on IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, whether you like it or not and organisations today will look to platforms and services that help them manage and analyse the streams of data coming from connected devices, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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Today, we are witnessing an explosion in IoT deployments and solutions and are moving towards a world where almost everything you can imagine will be connected. While this opens the door to many possibilities it also comes with its own challenges such as privacy and security.

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life; it has been a free for all on a daily basis. IoT is a difficult concept for many people to wrap their minds around. Essentially, nearly every business will be affected.

Managing vast quantities of data across increasingly mobile workforces can be tremendously beneficial if done well, but equally can be cumbersome and ineffective if not managed properly. This is why technologies such as mobile edge computing are becoming increasingly popular, helping to increase the prevalence of secure mobile working and data management in the age of IoT.

Unlocking IoT

The evolution of IoT, despite rapid and ongoing technological innovation, is still very much in its fledgling stages. Its potential, though, is demonstrated by the fact that by 2020, Bain anticipates a significant shift in uptake, with roughly 80 per cent of adoptions at that point to have progressed to the stage of either ‘proof of concept’ or extensive implementation. This means that technological innovation in IoT for the enterprise is progressing at a similarly fast rate with many of these solutions being developed with utilities, engineering, manufacturing and logistics companies in mind.

Processing at the edge

For IoT to be adopted at the rate predicted, technology which does not overwhelm current or even legacy systems must be implemented. Mobile edge computing solves this. Such solutions offer processing power at the edge of the network, helping firms with a high proportion of mobile workers to reduce operational strain and latency by processing the most critical data at the edge and close to its originating source. Relevant data can then be sent to the cloud for observation and analysis, thereby reducing the waves of ‘data garbage’ which has to be processed by cloud services.

A logistics manager can feasibly monitor and analyse the efficiency of warehouse operations, for example, with important data calculations carried out in real-time, on location, and key data findings then sent to the cloud for centrally-located data scientists to analyse.

The work of wearables

The potential of IoT means it not only has the scope to change the way people work, but also where they work. While widespread mobile working is a relatively new trend in industries such as banking and professional services, for CIOs in sectors where working on the move is inherent – such as logistics and field maintenance – mobility is high on the agenda.

Wearables – and specifically smart glasses – have started to gain traction within the business world. With mobile edge computing solutions acting as the gateway, smart glasses such as Toshiba’s assisted reality AR 100 viewer solution have been designed to benefit frontline and field-based workers in industries such as utilities, manufacturing and logistics. In the renewable energy sector, for example, a wind turbine engineer conducting repairs may use assisted reality smart glasses to call up the schematics of the turbine to enable a hands-free view of service procedures. This means that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert and have additional information sent through, thereby saving time and money by eradicating the need for extra personnel to be sent to the site.

The time is ripe for organisations to look to exploit the age of IoT to improve the productivity and safety of their workers, as well as the end service delivered to customers. In fact, Toshiba’s recent ‘Maximising Mobility’ report found that 49 per cent of organisations believe their sector can benefit from the hands-free functionality of smart glasses, while 47 per cent expect them to deliver improved mobile working and 41 per cent foresee better collaboration and information sharing. Embracing IoT technologies such as mobile edge computing and wearable solutions will be an essential step for many organisations within these verticals as they look to stay on top of 21st century working challenges.

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