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Sprint exec shares how mobile, digital solutions are streamlining retail operations

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When I mention the Sprint brand, your first thought might not include the company's retail loss prevention solutions. But maybe it should be. As one of the solution providers exhibiting at LP '12 this week, I had the opportunity to chat with Sprint executive Kelly Robinson about what the organization is offering in the retail space - including increased customer engagement through in-store video kiosks, better supply chain tracking through mobile devices and enhanced loss prevention techniques through video surveillance. Read on for Robinson's thoughts on each. 

 From m-commerce and customer marketing to alternative payments and back-end operations, mobile is impacting retail in big ways. In your opinion, what are the top trends across the mobile retailing space right now? The ability to extend the brand experience online and extend the online experience into the storefront. Digital signage and in-store touch screens are on the upswing. Which retailers have deployed this technology most effectively? I have seen very creative uses of digital media. One example was an educational video in a large department store that allow interactivity with the customer in the store, then offered a makeover via the store’s website at a later time. So the customer could go online and try different make up and colors and purchase these items. The overall experience deepened the store’s brand and the relationship with the customer. Retailers have begun arming associates with mobile devices across the supply chain. Where do you see mobile asset management taking the industry five or ten years down the road? Everyone will want to know where their items are at any given time – to geo-fence and track – to control their products. This trend will increase as accessibility to products is adopted. What advice would you give to retail executives hesitant to employ mobile storefront solutions? They may be at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t do it. The trend is towards 24/7 availability, all things digital, all things automated and tracked. Anyone left behind may not be deemed as progressive and up to date as the rest of the retailers. According to NRF’s recent Organized Retail Crime survey, ORC losses total an estimated $15-30 billion annually with 96% of retail companies attesting to being a victim of these crime rings in the last year. How can mobile play a role in combating ORC? Digital video is a key factor in identifying a thief and is used everywhere to ensure the least possible risk. Sprint currently ranks #3 among the 500 Greenest Companies in America – that’s a huge accomplishment. What tactics does the company employ to help its clients and partners attain the same environmentally responsible practices? We offer phone recycling to all of our clients. Sprint also offers a phone buyback program by which our customers can receive money for old phones not in use and we will recycle or resell as appropriate for the device. Sprint will have a large team onsite at NRF’s Loss Prevention Conference in New Orleans this week. What are you most excited about learning at this year’s event? I am really excited about learning about the latest trends straight from the retailers. The creativity is amazing in this environment and I look to these leaders to help us know what we should be bringing them to enhance their business and grow with them into the future. What’s one thing about Sprint, we don’t’ know, that we should? Sprint custom develops applications and M2M solutions with large retailers and partners through our M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, California. Unlike our competitors, there is no charge to certify a device on Sprint’s network. So if a retailer finds a new device they think will help them in their own business but it isn’t wireless yet, we have the engineering and staff to support the development.