Box for Retail: How to Delight Users, Get More Customers and Tame Consumer Application Sprawl

Last week I met with Box’s Enterprise GM, Whitney Bouck (@whitneybouck) and dozens of leading retailers at the CDM CIO Retail Summit in Phoenix. If you haven’t been to a CDM Media Summit, definitely put it on your list of great events to check out  – you’ll learning a whole lot about industry trends get a chance to network with peers.

This past Summit was focused exclusively on retail, and brought together business and IT leaders from all walks of retail life, including convenience stores, fashion, beauty, grocery, sporting goods and general merchandise.

The consumer application influx is placing pressure on IT to figure out how to “tame the crab grass” that end users are spreading in the workplace. Since email just doesn’t work for large file sharing and is terrible for collaboration, users find their own workarounds with non-sanctioned IT applications to get the job done. While users get the benefit of a simple way to share content outside the company, IT gets zero security and control over who is accessing corporate information. The IT leaders I spoke with said they genuinely want to provide their users with a secure, manageable option for collaboration and file sharing – the operative words being “secure” and “manageable.” Ideally, though, they’d also like to give their users something they’ll want to use. Just like those consumer tools they’ve provisioned on their own.

On the mobility front, many of these leaders are already rolling out iPads for use in stores, as well as at their corporate offices. According to the New York Times – and just about every retail industry trade publication – there is a ton of experimentation happening around how tablets can revolutionize the “front of the house” customer shopping experience. There is also a huge opportunity for mobile devices to drive improvements in the “back of the house,” or store operations, too.

In fact, by the end of the Summit, we had a long list of use cases for Box to help alleviate consumer application headaches, maintain security and control, and delight both users and customers. Here are a few examples by department:

For store operations: Imagine every store with a consistent brand experience. Box makes is possible to quickly and securely share promotional materials, pricing books and window displays from headquarters to stores. Plus, central operations teams can easily share the latest training and corporate documentation to store managers and employees in a way that is easy to access, even on mobile devices.

 For real estate/store planning teams: Team members can share construction and redesign project plans, CAD/CAM images, launch documents, contracts and more – all with version control, persistent comments and even the ability to electronically sign documents.  Project teams can include internal departments, as well as external contractors and design firms.

For design and manufacturing: New York designers can quickly share ideas about fabrics and styles with suppliers in China or India, who can share pictures and comments in secure folders. Say goodbye to large email attachments and FTP servers.  Collaboration around new products – whether it’s a new dress, athletic shoe or chair – is fast, easy and secure.

For marketing: Now marketing teams can easily collaborate internally and with their external advertising, design and production vendors – on everything from new advertisements, promotional materials, videos and more. Plus, they can easily integrate their brand assets with a Digital Asset Management Solution like WebDAM for consistent and simple access.

For legal departments: Legal teams spend countless hours redlining contracts back and forth internally and externally with partners and customers. Thankfully, Box makes it clear which version is the most current and who has approved/signed off. Add digital signing capabilities and you have a great solution to manage content and maintain the sanity of the legal team.

For IT: Box fits beautifully into corporate mobility and file system consolidation initiatives. Mobile users can have access to the content they need with the control features that IT enables. And it even integrates with existing ECM solutions such as Documentum and Sharepoint, so you can extend even the most “immobile” of content to mobile users via the cloud.

 I’d love to hear what’s most exciting to you! Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @BoxHQ. In fact, why don’t you join me at my retail-focused panel at BoxWorks this October? In the meantime, you can learn more about Box for retail here.