Homesteading value flows at the pumps
Upgrades still rely on some HP support

Retail futures for 3000 tote up at NRF

1364.mda The annual National Retail Federation conference, which gathers this week for its 99th meeting, includes exhibitors and talks that can help shape the future of 3000-based e-commerce. But nothing our Editor at Large has heard at the meeting in New York City adds up as much as what he says Ecometry's managers are reporting about their futures.

"Their [direct sales] division is selling Windows-based stuff," said Birket Foster from yesterday's show floor. "They're not selling any 3000-based stuff anymore." Ecometry has announced that its support of the e-commerce application for MPE/iX ends this year. "Unless that doesn't work out for you," Foster said, "and they'll spend some time helping, and so on."

"They don't want to lose somebody just because they can't afford to move off the 3000 just yet," he added. "They'd rather take some money rather than no money," accepting support payments while a customer moves. The troubled HP Business Critical Server group won't be getting much help from these 3000 migrators, who are choosing Windows more often as a replacement platform when they stick to Ecometry's solution.

Foster added that migration assessment bookings are up now during in the final year of HP's 3000 support. At last year's NRF, suppliers and the retailers were talking about the PCI DSS credit card standards -- and doubtful about the 3000's future to support the new security requirements. This year's NRF introduced another kind of solution to meeting the July, 2010 PCI deadline.

"PCI's still big on people's minds," Foster said, "but there's a huge contingent of suppliers offering 'why don't you let us do your credit card payment?' stuff, so you don't have to worry about PCI."

He added that he believes the solutions most likely to meet enterprise computing needs won't be coming from Windows-based environments, Ecometry's strongest replacement suit.

"They need to stick to [business critical-level] solutions," he said, "because you will not be able to get the kinds of products and services required to satisfy enterprise level without putting together a package that focuses on that. People are not going to know how to assemble the raw materials or know how to configure them all. They need somebody to be a technology advisor."

Fresh advice is at the NRF show from Google, Foster noted, with its biggest presence so far to school retailers on how to emerge at the top of searches.

Ap500 Escalate Retail, the parent company of Ecometry, announced a new point of sale kiosk product based on HP's touchscreen computer systems. The Interactive Store Kiosk, built upon the ap5000 low-powered Intel PC from HP, is a product that hopes to keep a shopper's purchases in-store, rather than using a retail outlet as a window shopping experience -- with online retailers getting the purchase after a buyer shops in-store. Escalate's press release noted the HP hardware component is driven by Microsoft-based HP Touchsmart software.

Microsoft Multi-touch technology responds to multiple points of touch contact simultaneously and allows shoppers to “grab” digital information with their hands and interact with on-screen content by touch and gesture, without a mouse or keyboard. Customers can access the entire product catalog (“endless aisle”), browse video content that’s relevant to their shopping choices, view the retailer’s latest social networking stream, read customer reviews in-store, create, update, and shop wish lists and gift registries, and more.

With today’s retail market more competitive and consumers more discriminating than ever, retailers must continue finding ways to stay relevant and connected to their customers at all times. Shoppers typically cannot get substantial product information from the brief details available in the aisle and on the packaging. Without confidence that they are choosing the best option, many will window shop in-store and decide to do more research online at home before committing to a specific model. Then, they may very well choose to purchase online from a competitor.

Many of those online competitors who still use the 3000 for retail don't sell with both "bricks and clicks," as Foster called the combined approach. Catalog sales became Web purchases as the 3000 shouldered the growth of Ecometry's base. Even today the sale through a click is beating store purchases.

"Clicks do better than bricks," he reports. "Online retail did relatively better than stores in 2009. There are lots of green opportunities in retail, many retail offerings are in the cloud, and there's lots of mobile POS and security devices here."