Fashion retailer Tommy Hilfiger Japan has leveraged Internet of Things, implementing an intelligent system based on Microsoft’s Windows Embedded that connects mobile thin clients with peripheral devices as well as centrally managed applications and data.
The company opted for Microsoft, after evaluating Apple and Android devices.
The main purpose was to share and manage information more efficiently and securely and enhance productivity, Microsoft said in a blog post.
The Microsoft solution includes the Windows Embedded, Windows Server, and Windows operating systems, Microsoft SQL Server software, Hyper-V virtualization technology, and Active Directory Domain Services. The company also uses Microsoft System Center products for centralized management.
The Japanese subsidiary of Tommy Hilfiger Group, which has more than 1,000 stores worldwide and annual revenue of $4.6 billion, needed a solution that would be secure, easy to customize, and provide connectivity required for peripheral devices such as barcode scanners.
The device would also need to reliably stream video and other media content from the corporate network. It wanted a companywide solution that would help store employees work more efficiently and easily while providing excellent customer service.
Takashi Ogo, chief financial officer at Tommy Hilfiger Japan, “After testing a tablet running the Windows Embedded operating system, we knew this was the right solution for connecting mobile thin clients to the corporate infrastructure and peripheral devices. The new solution is enhancing customer service and brand identity, strengthening security, improving manageability and cutting costs.”
To check stock and inventory, the company earlier used laptop PCs in each branch, which were typically tethered to a desk in the back room to avoid theft. Employees would have to leave the customer alone to research questions on item availability, a time-consuming process that also occasionally led to a disgruntled shopper.
Today, each store is equipped with a Windows Embedded thin-client mobile device that employees use to check prices and inventory. Because of the componentized structure of Windows Embedded, the company was able to eliminate any functionality not needed on the shop floor, reducing the tablets’ attractiveness to potential thieves.
The thin clients can be controlled with the touchscreen or with a keyboard and mouse connected to a docking station. The devices also connect to barcode scanners and a terminal that employees use to check stock levels and other information.
“Employees can provide timely service to the customer with mobile devices running Windows Embedded, regardless of where he or she is standing in the store,” said Takashi Kuroda, senior coordinator at Tommy Hilfiger Japan.
The mobile thin-client solution based on Windows Embedded enabled the fashion retailer to cut maintenance costs by a third. Instead of installing software separately on computers in 170 stores, it can centrally update its virtualized environment overnight.
The tablets can also be used to stream videos offered by the company, allowing associates to show customers the latest Tommy Hilfiger videos and fashion shows, such as the recent “Preppy at Work” campaign, which further helps the company strengthen its brand image.