Zebra Technologies, maker of mobile computers, and software-enhanced barcode scanners and printers, is partnering with the Retail Industry Leaders Association's (R)Tech Center for Innovation to help RILA identify and harness emerging technologies to the benefit of the global retail industry, according to a RILA press release.
One area of focus for the partnership will be data security and sharing. Retailers are generating vast amounts of actionable data about processes and assets that can be leveraged to transform their operations to improve business performance and outcomes, the press release stated.
In addition to partnering in the (R)Tech initiative, Zebra also is a sponsor and partner on RILA's Asset Protection Leaders Council, which includes senior executives in retail focused on asset protection, loss prevention and risk management.
Last March, RILA got together with Accenture to announce the (R)Tech Center for Innovation, and at the time it sounded like the latest effort by retail sector parties to tap into the technology magic and innovative spirit of start-up companies, while also giving those start-ups a boost. The (R)Tech Center joins similar efforts begun by individual retailers, such as the Target+Techstars accelerator program.
However with RILA at the center, the (R)Tech Center is more of a broad industry effort — it's advised by executives from several retailers, including Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lowe’s, Target, Walgreens, VF Corporation, Westfield, Foot Locker, GameStop, QVC, Unilever, Energizer, AutoZone and Coca-Cola. The project also gets help from established venture firms and incubators, including Andreessen Horowitz, Bain Capital Ventures, Commerce Ventures, Facebook, Greylock Partners, Google, GSVlabs, Shoptalk, Techstars and XRC Labs.
The Zebra partnership gives the program a different point of view, as it's neither a retailer nor a start-up, having served retail and other industries as a technology supplier for many years. But that may be exactly what RILA is looking for here — a partner that can bring expertise and experience around the parallel retail evolutions toward mobile commerce and greater adoption of Internet of Things.
We have seen evidence of the insistent migration to mobile shopping, with smartphones accounting for as much as 25% of online retail sales. Meanwhile, a study earlier this year from Zebra itself suggested that 70% of retailers are planning IoT deployments. Both of these movements are generating huge amounts of data that retailers can leverage and must protect, but they may need help.