Check it Out: Grabbing Store Shoppers by the Hand … Electronically
A 2009 year-end survey of store traffic conducted by ShopperTrak, a provider of shopper traffic counting technology, showed a reasonably encouraging year-over-year increase of 3.5 percent. But store traffic has been so light over the past couple years that retailers, and their software vendors, are seeking ways to not only get consumers into stores, but also take them by the hand and guide them right to the cashiers. Case in point, take two recent retail technological innovations from Escalate Retail and NCR.
Earlier this year, Escalate unveiled an interactive store kiosk application designed to help shoppers find what they're looking for and get right inside their minds on the spot.
The kiosk uses Microsoft Multi-touch and Silverlight technologies to provide extensive product features and what it calls an "endless aisle" of shopping backed by rich media. It even gives access to some social shopping features. The tool reacts to several points of customer touch and gesture contact — no mouse, no keyboard. Store customers access the store's entire inventory by browsing videos related to what they're looking for.
They also can read customer reviews on the spot, and create or update shopping lists and gift registries.
Why make it so easy? Escalate's thinking is that retailers don't want customers to walk out of the store to comparison shop online. They'll likely find something else and not return. Escalate wants retailers to beat web and catalog merchants at their own game by providing the tool to let customers conduct their online shopping research right in the store. Further, the tool provides far more detail than shoppers can see by picking up products and reading package labels.
The Microsoft Silverlight technology provides a "deep-zoom" capability for interactive product browsing, using the same product content, pricing and customer reviews more commonly seen online — namely, on home computers.