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In a recent Q&A on openforum.com, Guess? Chief Information Officer Michael Relich admitted that two years ago, the fashion retailer had a bit of a merchandising problem.

"Our buyers were working off a system where merchandise was represented by a long number, and it was hard to tell the items apart," said Relich. "As a result, I don't think our merchandise selection was as good as it could have been."

How did they solve the problem? iPads.

"Well, our buyers saw an improvement immediately. Instead of just seeing a number on a spreadsheet, our iPad app allowed them to see the specific coat, pant or dress accompanied by a photo and where it was selling. Suddenly, they were going into stores with a much better idea about what to do and how to act to improve the store."

"For shoppers, our engagement went through the roof after we installed iPads in the stores. People instinctively go up to the device and use it to find out-of-stock merchandise or track their loyalty program points. We've gotten great feedback."

Relich gave his own vision of the future of retail, and even that was full of Apple products. Cash registers will become obsolete as iPads or iPod Touches replace the machines for in-store credit card transactions, Relich said, improving engagement and workflow.

"I would encourage anyone to do it as soon as possible," Relich said, in regards to businesses implementing the technology. "The devices are relatively affordable and worth the investment. But have a clear plan about what you're going to do with it and how to best utilize it on the customer service side and merchandising side. Once all that's in place, I say go for it."

Read more about retail merchandising.

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