Ever gone to a big box retailer looking for the best products and the best prices? You’ve done your homework, and you visit your local store to check out the product in person. You have some questions – but since retail stores are having a hard time competing with online retailers like amazon.com, you can’t find anybody to help you.
You walk through the aisles, looking for a sales associate, and finally find one in the home appliances aisle. You ask if they can come help you in the camera section, as you’re buying your daughter a high end tablet as a graduation present.
He’s very friendly, and comes back to the camera section with you, but the best he can do is guess at the answers about each camera, and suggest you “go online” to learn more.
You leave the store, go to Starbucks, pull up a few reviews, and buy the camera on amazon.com and it is delivered to your doorstep two days later.
The big box store just lost a big sale (and follow on sales) and a customer.
Fast forward to a new era of in-store support.
You’re in the camera section, and are able to pick up and feel the various Sony cameras. You like the Alpha a7R, and your daughter mentioned it and the interchangeable lenses. But you’re not sure which combination of camera, lenses and accessories make sense. You’re ready to spend, on the camera, accessories, and need some guidance.
You notice the One Touch help offer – simply tap your phone against the Sony Expert display, and within seconds a Sony Alpha expert appears, on a large video window on a screen directly behind the camera display.
“I see you interested in the Alpha range,” the friendly expert says. You can see her, but she can’t see you.
“Yes, I am but unsure of exactly which camera and lenses make sense…”
From there you carry on a conversation and by the end are thrilled to purchase exactly the right products for your daughter. The Sony Alpha expert sends the list of products you chose, after co-browsing and looking at a few videos, some specifications and so forth, to the check out counter.
“Your camera and lenses will be ready for pick up in a few minutes,” the Sony Alpha expert says. “I’m happy to text my contact information to your phone and to help you with any future needs. Thanks for shopping at Big Box store, and thanks for your confidence in Sony! Hope your daughter enjoys – please send photos, in fact we have a photo contest for college graduates coming up next month…and she could win a trip to Kenya for a photo safari.”
Imagine an expert appearing immediately in a display – or on your smartphone or tablet – to assist you.
It’s fun, it’s efficient, and it sells products. And everybody wins.
Behind the scenes, the Big Box store is able to observe the interaction and interactions in the aggregate. No longer forced to try and provide enough staff on the floor to ensure coverage, they can focus the staff on other tasks instead.
Sony is able to compete with other camera manufacturers having paid the Big Box store for the rights to have a virtual sales presence which they are able to cost-effectively provide given their experts are in the cloud.
The communications service provider who sold the solution has upgraded the network for the Big Box store, adding more WiFi, while their systems integration and implementation partner has generated revenue by installing the systems into thousands of locations, and providing maintenance for those systems.
Sony’s marketing agency is able to analyze the big data across all stores, and recommend new campaigns because the kiosk experience isn’t just one-to-one; digital signage covers the screen when consumers are not interacting.
Dad gets special offers, while her daughter is able to pursue her interests in photography. Mom was able to take the products home or have additional accessories shipped, and if there is ever a question about the camera or lenses or accessories, the expert at Sony can help or route the call to another expert so coverage is 24/7.
This is just one use case for WebRTC and interactive retail solutions that bring expertise onto the floor in real time, all the time.
As physical retailers continue to drive strategies enabling them to compete against e-commerce players like amazon, finding ways to bridge the physical and digital worlds help – a lot. We still are living in the physical world. We still like to go to the mall, to shop, to see in real life, in 3D, the products particularly those which are expensive investments.
While this may seem futuristic, it is very much today. Retailers are spending billions on new technologies that enhance consumers’ experiences while reducing costs and generating more rich data and information which they can then use to continually improve and compete.
In fact, retailers are on the cutting edge of Internet of Things (IoT) according to a new report by Juniper:
“By 2020, retailers will spend some $2.5 billion on Internet of Things (IoT)-related technologies such as Bluetooth-equipped beacons and radio frequency ID tags (RFID), about four times more than the $670 million expected to be spent this year. By 2020, as much as 70 percent of purchased IoT hardware won’t be consumer-centric, with the segment driven by business IoT spending pushing the IoT opportunity worldwide to $300 billion.”
The picture is very clear – and the opportunity in this particular scenario – limitless.