For Lamps Plus, the nation’s largest specialty lighting retailer and a leading lighting and home furnishings manufacturer, creating a seamless shopping experience for its customers across all channels is of critical importance. It's for that reason that the company has introduced computer kiosks in each of 35-plus stores. The kiosks create an “endless aisle” of products in-store, helping to drive additional sales that would otherwise be lost.
Terre Wellington, senior vice president of store operations at Lamps Plus, recently spoke with Total Retail regarding the company's in-store computer kiosks and the impact they're having on the business. Here's the exclusive interview:
Total Retail: Why has Lamps Plus decided to add computer kiosks to its brick-and-mortar stores?
Terre Wellington: We've had computer kiosks in our stores since 2003, and they’ve evolved over time. The kiosks have always been central to our brick-and-mortar strategy to provide exactly what customers want. Most importantly for us, kiosks give our customers an “endless aisle” experience that allows them to get exactly the color, size and shape of lighting and home furnishings they want. Our kiosks create a seamless customer experience connecting our stores with our website.
TR: What factors go into deciding where the kiosks are placed in-store?
TW: Kiosks are spread evenly throughout the store with the goal of making them visible and accessible to our customers no matter where they are or what product they're looking at in-store. We have about seven kiosks in every store, and shoppers are never more than 20 feet away from a kiosk at all times.
For example, our kiosk in the outdoor and landscape lighting area allows our sales associates to easily and quickly show Lamps Plus’ entire family of products. A customer may be looking for a new entry light for their front porch, and while this fixture is displayed in the showroom, the rest of the family of lighting (the matching post light, the hanging pendant, etc.) isn't in-store but the products are visible on the kiosk and available for purchase.
TR: How are in-store shoppers using the kiosks?
TW: Customers use the kiosks to search the options that best fit their needs. A good example is our Color Plus collection. Customers often come into our stores with a photo or color swatch in an attempt to match their room colors to a lamp they want to purchase. Instead of being limited to several colors, customers can choose from over 100 different colors and shades we provide online to get the exact color of lamp they want. Customers can access kiosks alone or with store associates, and can view high-res product photos on large monitors. Purchases on store kiosks must be made with a store associate.
TR: In what ways can store associates use the kiosks to improve a shopper's experience?
TW: We have customers who regularly use our website and then call our stores to ask questions. The kiosk has a modified version of our website so it allows our sales associates to answer the phone, go to a kiosk and view the same product online to help answer customer inquiries. In essence, the kiosk makes our store associates see everything the customer is viewing at home while the customer is on the phone or texting them. The kiosk allows the associate to expand the sale. For example, if a customer enters a store looking for a particular ceiling fan, the store associate’s expertise and the kiosk’s ability to browse products can help the customer make a more informed purchase. This helps to ensure the fan fits their needs, resulting in a more satisfied customer.
All sales from the store kiosk offer commissions to the store associate and sales to the store location, therefore there’s a strong incentive for associates to support the use of kiosks to provide the “endless aisle.” Associates also use the kiosks to look up inventory and availability information for customers while on the showroom floor without having to move to a point-of-sale location or search the back room. Customers benefit from immediate updates and the opportunity to order and ship to their home with an associate’s help.
TR: What are the primary business benefits that Lamps Plus has realized from its use of computer kiosks in its stores?
TW: A significant portion of our store sales are generated or impacted by kiosks. The computer kiosks bring what we consider a mandatory technology tool into the store to offer a point of reference for both customers and store associates. The store's inventory on display shows our product categories’ breadth of choices and depth of products, but due to the limited size of our showrooms, we cannot show our entire inventory. The store kiosks solve that problem by offering a fast and easy guide to see all of our products. Because kiosks are spread throughout stores and have large monitors, they're easily accessible to shoppers.
Another benefit is store associates are able to, in essence, train customers to use our website. Customers become more accustomed to and knowledgeable about the interface to use at home. Kiosks also show store associates how customers are using our site. Post-purchase we’re able to generate feedback from customers through a survey and five-star rating, which store managers receive within 20 minutes after completion, allowing swift responses to thank customers for positive comments or apologize and address any issues identified.
TR: How does Lamps Plus plan to use kiosks in its stores going forward? More features available via the kiosks?
TW: We're continually looking to expand the experience with our kiosks. Our plan in the next couple of years is to add credit card swipes and potentially add mobile payment solutions that will help speed customers’ checkout experiences. We will continually evaluate our kiosks to ensure they offer a quick and easy solution for customers to benefit from visiting one of our stores.
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