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Supercuts improves mobile app with real-time data

Salon franchise Supercuts has partnered with Comcast across 33 locations in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey to improve the efficiency and accurateness of its mobile application by uploading real-time data to provide users with approximate wait times, check-in abilities and choice of stylists.

The onset of broadband Internet, mobile devices and mobile apps has altered customer expectations for what is an acceptable tempo of business. The new conveniences of the app interface in real time with the franchise’s point-of-sale software, and allow guests to execute tasks remotely or onsite.

“Having insight into how many people come to each Supercuts location helps store management adjust staffing levels or plan new salon locations based on areas of greatest demand,” said Maria-Christina Kolodziej, specialist at Davies Murphy Group, Boston.

“This is just one example of how retail chains are taking the needs and requirements of their customers into consideration as they upgrade their networks in the case of mobile.”

Cutting edge tech
The Supercuts mobile app has been cited a key tool in streamlining operations, as stylists are able to focus on guests in the chair without having to check clients in or provide wait times over the phone. Although the self-serve option was meant to alleviate interruptions in-store, lagging DSL Internet had previously hindered the app’s potential to provide accurate wait times.

When accessing the app, GPS capabilities unearth participating and localized salons pinned with estimated times, cutting back the need to tap each site for the search and discovery of pertinent information.

When choosing a desired salon, users can view store hours, get directions from their current location, call the store or check-in on mobile. The check-in service preps the location on a guest’s arrival time and their service needs, adds them to the wait list and based on estimated length of style-time, schedule appointments so no overlap occurs.

As consumers are no longer willing to wait for a response when using mobile, brands must link their mobile apps to artificial intelligence and business analytics system that leverage real-time and historical data to predict and  act on consumer needs. But for contextually aware strategies to work in a real-time ecosystem, they must use real-time data.

Need for speed
Because this type of data has to be analyzed by a system that can keep up with the speed of consumers, it presents a challenge for companies, as they will be forced to replace systems that cannot support the real-time processes required to communicate with mobile users, a complication that Forrester Research says will prompt another Y2K event.

Brazil’s second largest city, Rio de Janeiro, became the first metropolitan area in the world this year to collect real-time data from drivers using the navigation app Waze, and pedestrians who utilize the Moovt public transportation app.

Rio now collects data that gives it an unprecedented view on moving points across the city, and plans to use the crowdsourced data outside of advertising opportunities by turning consumers into activated, moving sensors that municipalities can monitor to get a better perspective on traffic and hazards. With plans to also integrate data from the popular cycling app Strava, governments can utilize apps to send alerts and improve roadway systems.

Apps that follow a time-sensitive business model such as HotelTonight and real-time meal deals coupon app BiteHunter understand the evolution of comparable Web offerings such as Expedia and Groupon, where consumers flock to discounts on travel and dining.

Both apps offer up-to-the-minute information that avoids the dissatisfaction of presenting users with expired deals, and have a very high user experience and satisfaction rate.

Now that Supercuts is using a Comcast connection with 50 megabits-per-second download speeds and 10 mbps upload speeds, it can better help franchises stay focused on their customers. And though the business is thriving less on face-to-face interaction, it has discovered that planning-ahead technologies are making positive impacts on informing decisions and propelling the brand to positive favor.

“This announcement is significant because it highlights how technology has become a critically important factor in delivering a first-class guest experience, not just for organizations like medical facilities or schools, but also for retail stores that pride themselves on face-to-face customer interaction,” Ms. Kolodziej said.

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York