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Major Takeaways:

  • GoInStore creates a direct link between online shoppers and in-store product experts by leveraging wearable technology or other mobile devices
    • An in-store sales assistant wears a head mounted camera, and talks you through the products as you direct them around the store
  • Allows for better and more immersive engagement with online customers; aiming to bridge the gap between online sales conversion rates (2 – 3%) and in-store sales conversation rates (20%+)
  • Epson’s Moverio was initially used as the in-store headset of choice after Google Glass proved to be too limiting
    • The GoInStore software now works with smart phones and tablets as well
  • The technology is linked to a store’s inventory, so the GoInStore feature only works with products that a sales associate can view in real-time. It also studies an online customer’s browsing activity and can match them with the appropriate in-store associate
  • As of now, the company is finding the best success with high-end retailers, including customers AMARI Supercars, which sold a BMW i8 supercar using the software
  • Additional potential use cases include vetting hotel rooms virtually and guided tours

From the article at Forbes:

Two business partners and entrepreneurs who have been friends for more than 25 years have developed an award-winning product that is beginning to make waves as the missing link that could finally solve the problem of how to unite “clicks” and “bricks”.

Andre Hordagoda and Aman Khurana are technology industry veterans who have spent the bulk of their careers working with major international clients, looking at how personalising the online shopping experience can help move the needle and increase conversion rates for customers shopping online. I caught up with them a few days before they head out toMobile World Congress, where they have been shortlisted for Best Use of Mobile for Retail, Brands & Commerce.

Their start-up GoInStore certainly has the wow! factor – it creates a direct communication channel between online shoppers and in-store product experts by leveraging wearable technology or other mobile devices. In other words, the sales assistant wears a head mounted camera, and talks you through the product as you direct them around the store.

The idea is both bold and simple – a few years ago Hordagoda paid a visit to his sister, who at the time ran a flagship handbag store at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, East London. “When I arrived at the store it was empty and for the 45 minutes or so I was there there were four sales people on the floor tasked with helping customers – the problem was there weren’t any! I told my sister: “I bet there are hundreds of people browsing the store’s website – a pity there’s no way to give your idle in-store assistants access to them.” Then the penny dropped.”

How to do it? “We thought about how we could introduce a real human being with real product knowledge into the online channel and really engage with them – this was back when there was a huge buzz around Google Glass. We realised that giving customers the opportunity to browse the physical store, look at different products, get close-ups and direct the camera wherever they wanted it go in store – all from the comfort of their living room – was actually achievable if we could give the guys in-store the right tech.”

“We had the idea but it took 12 months to develop the product and find the right partners”. In the end Hordagoda and Khurana realised that Google Glass was not the answer, largely because of its limited battery life, expense, and ultimately because Google pulled the product altogether. Instead they partnered with Epson, the world’s largest supplier of printers and imaging products – who had also developed a less hyped but far more effective set of headwear / glasses as part of a diversification drive to combat falling demand for devices that print receipts.

“We were struggling to get the quality we wanted and Epson came to the rescue at just the right time”, says Khurana, although GoInStore has since iterated and is now able to provide the same functionality using tablets or smartphones. “The important part isn’t necessarily the device we use so long as we are giving online shoppers the chance to have an in-store experience and to give them access to a sales person who has expert knowledge of the products they are interested in.”

The obvious question is then why can’t a store simply face-time or Skype with customers? And there’s an obvious answer: GoInStore is a lot more than an augmented reality gimmick. “We’ve added a range of features that make using GoInStore infinitely preferable to posting your own personal Skype address or home phone number on your site”, explains Khurana…

Head over to Forbes to read the full feature.