Canadian Tire In-Store Tablet Rollout to Begin in May

Canadian Tire will deploy at least 5,000 tablet devices to its core network of 490 stores beginning in May. The rollout follows fast on the debut of a digital content hub designed to improve both in-store and online shopping experiences at Canada's largest retailer. The tablet platform will include a "fast find" app that employees can use to quickly identify the location of every item in each store.

"One of the things we know from our research is that when customers look through our stores, and cannot find a product – that is they believe we are out of stock – 70% of the time, that inventory is in the store," said Canadian Tire COO Marco Marrone in a Financial Post article.

The digital hub, dubbed the Canadian Way, will offer detailed product information, videos, how-to tips and a social networking component that will allow shoppers to comment on products.

Despite having the most popular retail website in Canada, with more than 100 million visits in 2012, Canadian Tire has been somewhat cautious in e-commerce since shutting down its online shopping site in 2009. In 2011, the retailer began selling tires online, and the company has launched a pilot program in eastern Canada to integrate its Canadian Tire money with a loyalty card that will allow it to track customer activity more accurately. Published reports indicate plans for Canadian Tire to move back into online commerce more fully later this year.

Diving into Digital Development

Often referred to as the Walmart of Canada, Canadian Tire has joined its U.S.-based rival in participating directly in digital technology development. In March, the retailer opened a new digital development lab in "Silicon Valley North," in Kitchener, Ontario, joining nearly 1,000 companies as the first retail partner in Communitech, an organization that supports tech companies at all stages of their growth and development.

Canadian Tire will have five full-time employees on-site in Kitchener and is working in dedicated space within Communitech's hub to improve omnichannel shopping experiences.

"Canadian Tire has decided that digital is – and will be – a core strategic differentiator in retail," said Marrone in a statement. "Our Communitech partnership puts us deep inside the smartest brain trust in Canada and will deliver the 'next in class' thinking that we need to lead the retail industry and deliver a better customer experience.

"Where we used to focus on large-scale technology builds, we're now capitalizing on investments we, and others, have already made and are implementing technology much more quickly," Marrone added. "We have built an internal team and our app lab will explore and deliver consumer applications that support our digital vision."

For related content: Canadian Tire Centralizes Location-Based Data for Better BI

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