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Tomorrow, ambient retail

01
jun
2016
Nicolas MEUNIER
Digital Communication Manager
3 minutes
A very eventful week for Echangeur! Back from the MAPIC Italy (24-25 May 2016), Matthieu Jolly, head of innovation and service, recalled the fundamentals of omnichannel retailing. And his visit to the emblematic concept store in Milan.

At the Cercle Premier Commerce & Distribution organized by Orange Business Services, head of partnerships technological Guillaume Rio for his part reflects on the end of mobile apps for conversational commerce.

Another type of conversation, the one engaged in by Echangeur experts with Pepper, the star robot at the Innorobo Show in Paris (23 to 25 May 2016). Pepper, the augmented salesman of tomorrow?

 

An omnichannel experience in Milan

At the closing session of the MAPIC Italy, Echangeur shared its vision of changing commerce. With the disappearance of frontier between the real and the digital worlds, consumption is becoming ambient, seamless.

In Milan the two flagship stores of OVS, the leading Italian fashion retailer, are perfect illustrations of this. Digital technology works for the customer. In the connected Magic Fitting Room, lady customers can take selfies to share their look on social media. To try on another size, they only need to press the “call staff” button. If the store is busy, the application or connected kiosk tells the lady customer whether the desired size is available in other outlets. She can also order the garment online using the store’s free WiFi. And children are not overlooked: an interactive table lets them mix their clothes by creating their piece of music. A way of keeping them occupied while their parents are shopping!

But more than technology it is the omnipresence of the customer experience that characterizes Milan’s stores. You can have lunch in Bianchi Café & Cycles or watch an employee spinning out mozzarella at Eataly, the temple of Italian gastronomy. With its gourmet concept, Carrefour Market offers an increasing number of places of discovery: beauty bar, sushi workshop, children’s area, while efficiently managing the queues at delicatessen counters or at checkout.

If you are passing through Milan, go and see these stores. Have other stores caught your eye? Echangeur would be delighted to discuss them with you.

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Conversational working for ambient retail!

Through omnipresence and instantaneousness its the shift to digital forces use to reconsider the customer relationship, all the more so with the arrival of the millennial generation. This was the premise of Echangeur’s intervention at the 2016 edition of the Cercle Premier Commerce & Distribution. So what are the prospects for changing commerce? Whereas 8 years ago we celebrated the birth of apps, veritable vectors of the explosion of mobile retail, 2016 is seeing the birth of chatbots (artificial intelligence grafted onto instant messaging) extolling the reign of messaging (billions of users worldwide) over commerce!

This conversational commerce is among other things illustrated by Facebook Messenger with M and Wechat with Xiaoice. From textual, conversations can also be held out loud. Voice recognition is the done thing with Amazon Echo and Google Home, which promise to be veritable service-centric hubs at the heart of the home. So retail, commerce and contextual services are increasingly part of our everyday life, during a discussion, a micro moment without any operational friction whatsoever. As Echangeur was saying a few years ago, commerce has become ambient!

 

Artificial intelligence in robots?

Conversation was also a topic at the Innorobot exhibition. Impossible to resist Pepper, the star robot of the 2016 edition of Innorobot. Concentrated in a small space, several scenarios for using Pepper in customer relations contexts were presented.

 

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With Mastercard, Pepper accepts payments. Pepper takes orders, suggests special deals then naturally takes your payment. For this to work, the customer has to have downloaded the Masterpass application or scanned a QR code. Orders are collected traditionally at the counter. The idea here is to make the experience more personal than with self-service interactive terminals and encourage personalized recommendations. A full-scale test will be carried out at Pizza Hut in Singapore. But Pepper is also tomorrow’s augmented salesman for the Lonsdale agency. For Orange it has developed the following experience. It starts with a surprise customer greeting: “Hello, I’m Pepper, I’ll help you choose a mobile and try and guess what you like”. Obviously, apart from engaging in a fun conversation with the customer, the idea is to collect data on customers to better understand their tastes, shopping habits etc. In short, a walking CRM system for the brand. Then the sales assistant takes over, engaging directly in conversation with the customer, as the introductions have already been made by Pepper! Company Hoomano also proposed a robot experience and explained how to use them in retail outlets to create effective and targeted interactions, from the reception desk to checkout.

The robot thus presents another facet of a conversational commerce experience: more empathetic in its form, modular voice tones and the expression of emotions. But less natural and fluid in its interaction than an Amazon Echo for instance. And what if the best of both worlds combined tomorrow? The IBM Watson artificial intelligence has already been incorporated into Pepper’s body. When will we see Alexa, Amazon Echo’s AI, in Pepper?

Nicolas MEUNIER
Digital Communication Manager
Editorialist
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