|| The Perspective
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA) will host its first annual ICX Summit in Chicago on June 29-30, 2015.
Louisville, KY (PRWEB) - Networld Media Group today announces the launch of the Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA), which will promote and accelerate the convergence of customer experience technologies and disciplines across all consumer channels.
“The need for ICXA reflects a rising emphasis among brands to create superior customer experiences through multiple technologies,” said Networld Media Group’s CEO, Tom Harper. “Our membership unites professionals from such disciplines as customer experience and service, loyalty, merchandising, marketing, sales, and retail operations.”
Technologies employed by these innovators encompass CRM, POS, digital display, self-service, e- and m-commerce, mobile payment, and much more. ICXA represents a broadening of scope to understand how various technologies can be combined to create unique and unprecedented consumer experiences.
ICXA will host its first annual ICX Summit in Chicago on June 28-30, 2015. Keynote speakers include Blaine Hurst, EVP of Panera Bread and Paul Price, CEO of Creative Realities.
The soon-to-be-launched ICXA.org website will feature a members-only education archive, including videos, webinars and podcasts covering the association’s educational activities. The site will also offer an industry blog and supplier directory.
To jumpstart its launch, ICXA is merging with and absorbing the full membership of the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA), which had focused previously on the self-service, kiosk, and digital signage technology segments.
“The DSA board is excited about this new direction,” said Bill Lynch, DSA president and new ICXA board member. “The emerging customer experience market encompasses all of our member industries and much more. Our research into market trends and member needs finds most DSA members either expanding into broader customer experience solutions or aligning with partner companies. It became clear that our association must evolve to better serve the expanding needs of our members.”
Existing DSA members will receive full membership in ICXA and enjoy increased benefits with additional learning, networking and peer groups. Technology innovators and suppliers will be invited to participate as instructors in a new online learning series.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Scott Slucher, the new ICXA will continue to expand and develop membership across such industry verticals as banking and payments, retail and restaurant, healthcare, hotel and entertainment, education and government. Slucher brings to his new role many years of professional experience in sales and marketing, digital media, and market research disciplines. His specialty is helping organizations make deeper connections within their industries.
About Networld Media Group
Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the mobile, self-service, digital signage, retail, food service and financial services industries. Online properties include ATMmarketplace.com, DigitalSignageToday.com, FastCasual.com, PizzaMarketplace.com, KioskMarketplace.com, MobilePaymentsToday.com, VirtualCurrencyToday.com, QSRweb.com, RetailCustomerExperience.com and ChurchCentral.com. The company produces executive summits in the fast casual, retail, ATM and mobile payments industries. Its custom media division develops Web sites, premium content and marketing services for associations such as the ATM Industry Association and the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Is it just me, or is virtual reality (VR) popping up everywhere? Whether you’re chowing down on pizza or waiting at a bus terminal, interactive VR technology is growing every day. Now, we’re seeing the first smart retail store using this technology.
You might think the Rebecca Minkoff flagship retail store would want the incredible technology it created with partner eBay to be the focal point of the retail space. But it’s precisely the opposite — they made it as subtle as possible.
Reflecting the Future
High-tech touch screen mirrors bring the online world into the physical retail space. At first glance, they look like regular mirrors, until shoppers tap to transform them into touch screen, virtual reality havens.
Shoppers select the pieces and sizes they want to try on and a sales associate will bring the items directly to a changing room. Shoppers receive a text message when their room is ready — hello, omni-channel networks!
One Step Further
The smart changing room takes it even further to enhance the interactive shopping experience. RFID technology allows the self-service software to recognize each item within the room. With one tap on the touch screen mirrors, shoppers can request different sizes, place items into virtual shopping carts, and purchase.
The software also attaches each item tried on and purchased to a shopper’s account. This allows it to make intelligent retail recommendations based on the customer’s taste in the future, further customizing the experience.
The smart store understands that VR can’t replace the need to physically experience something. We’re seeing this with larger items too, like Audi’s virtual reality car showroom. For as amazing as this interactive technology is, Audi also incorporates samples of interior and exterior finishes for customers to touch.
Having physical samples is important for both large-item retailers and stores with mass customization options. A shoe store, for example, could have one sample pair of shoes with virtual images and physical swatches of all the different materials the style comes in.
Previously, we’ve always looked at an online store as an extension of the physical store, but the smart store flips this idea on its head. eBay views the physical items in the smart store as a manifestation of the online experience. Pretty crazy, right?
What do you think — would you want this technology in your retail experience? Or is this too much, too soon?
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
By Chris Gilder
CEO and Founder
Meridian Zero Degrees
Identifying market trends has become, well, a “trendy” thing to do. All too often, though, when such movements are discussed in the self-service industry, there is rarely a clear answer to the question of “so what?”
Taking advantage of prevailing developments in any business can be a risky endeavor. Thus, I want to discuss three critical trends in the self-service marketplace and how to capitalize on these, or any, shifting technologies.
Mobile Integration – It's becoming a necessity in self-service to develop solutions with mobile integration in mind. According to new research from Pew’s Internet & American Life Project, more than 60-percent of Americans own a smartphone; that’s staggering! Nearly two-thirds of American consumers have a smart device at the ready.
This trend is only growing. And as consumers become increasingly dependent upon their mobile devices, self-service providers will have to be capable of deploying solutions that are mobile-integrated in order to remain competitive. This is what the market is demanding and will continue to demand.
Omnichannel – Mobile integration is crucial, but it's only part of the picture. Consumers, now more than ever, want the freedom to conduct a transaction at their leisure. Whether it is via a Web browser, on a tablet or personal computer, at a kiosk, at a brick-and-mortar store or through a combination of all of these, creating a seamless consumer experience is becoming vital to the marketing success of all companies.
As a self-service company, we at Meridian know we have to be in touch with this need and provide solutions that will work in an omnichannel landscape. In fact, there may be cases where self-service solution providers will have to lead the way, guiding companies to an understanding of the necessity of creating a consistent omnichannel experience for their customers. We must be equipped to lead as solutions providers.
Interfacing with New Technologies – Webopedia defines interface as "a boundary across which two independent systems meet and act on or communicate with each other." We're all familiar with user interfaces (UI) like the keyboard or the mouse and with graphical user interfaces (GUI) like Windows or iOS.
Moving forward, our industry will be increasingly shaped by interfacing with new technologies like Bluetooth, facial recognition, character recognition, and others. Understanding how these technologies benefit clients and end users is paramount to any self-service company’s success. Collaborating with partners that grasp these new interfacing technologies makes for widespread innovation; and with innovation comes thoughtful, managed solutions that are good for everyone.
Ideas plus analytics equal a win-win - Now that we know the critical trends shaping our industry, what’s next? How are we to gauge risk versus reward when it comes to capitalizing on trends that may, or may not, take hold in the self-service marketplace?
In my experience, there are two critical components needed to gauge risk versus reward.
First, there must be thoughtful and well-planned proofs of concept that lead to pilot projects. Second, there has to be a plan to collect and measure data. Without these components, a solution provider is no better than a pilot flying an airplane without navigation. There is no way for him to know what is up or down – no information guiding him to the place he needs to go.
Without measurable indicators as to what works and what doesn’t, there is no way to say to a company, "Here is a successful solution to your problem," because no one knows if it is or isn’t. When trying to capitalize on shifting trends, capturing empirical data is vital – it's vital to the self-service solution provider, to the success of its clients, and, ultimately, to the satisfaction of the end user. When we carefully plan proofs of concepts, deploy pilots and measure data, we create a win-win-win scenario instead of wasting time and resources for all parties.
Navigating the landscape of the self-service industry is not easy. None of us can predict the future. But, we don’t have to be soothsayers to be successful. Recognizing trends, testing well-planned ideas, measuring successes and failures with analytics – these are the means by which we can create a winning environment for all stakeholders.
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
VP New Business Development
Frank Mayer & Associates
I know most readers are concerned about what’s happening tomorrow and next month and before the end of this year, but there’s a hopeful trend in retail that will bear fruit in the years to come. Companies that began as pure-play online retailers are discovering the power of having physical stores to build their brand.
In some cases plans begin with flagship stores, but for others they signal a more deliberate move into bricks and mortar. Take Warby Parker, a trendy eyewear retailer, for example. They realized a physical presence would be integral to their growth.
The business which began online four years ago now has eight locations either completed or in the works. Their website says, “Our retail spaces combine the snappy ease of online ordering with the fun and serendipity of real-life shopping (with a photo booth or two).”
Warby Parker’s statement is acknowledgement that businesses can develop a base with online shoppers, but growth in select categories requires the kind of awareness, product credibility and experience that a physical presence can achieve. The two channels work together in that customers who make their first purchase in the store may then be comfortable making future purchases online.
What can be achieved when you build a retail presence from the ground up? You can create imaginative spaces. You can have seamless experience between channels from the start. You can create an extraordinary brand experience. You can seize new opportunities.
In repurposing existing spaces, Warby Parker is creating unique store environments that blend the old with the new. In April 2013, Warby Parker opened its flagship store in NYC’s SOHO district. This maiden store features high display shelves, a rolling ladder, and old brass library lamps. The cool, old library vibe is juxtaposed with the most up-to-date technology.
Multi-channel without multiple barriers
Warby Parker intertwined vintage atmosphere and new technology without being bound to a multiplicity of existing systems. The installation of Wi-Fi sensors throughout the store tracks the flow of traffic, customer browsing trends, and product preferences. The customer data collected helps improve the shopping experience both in-store and online. POS on tablets allows sales associates to move freely about to serve customers where they are.
In its first foray into bricks and mortar, four-year old online cosmetics retailer Birchbox is devoting the second floor of a new Manhattan store to building community and offering things that can’t be obtained online. They will hold classes on makeup application and skin care and offer styling services. Technology will facilitate the in-store experience. Self-service touchscreens throughout the store will enable customers to input information and pull up relevant, personal product recommendations and reviews.
Space to collaborate
Long-time e-commerce stalwart 1-800 flowers, which realizes 73 percent of its business online and on the phone is adding franchise stores in more markets so it can pursue collaborative business that isn’t easy to achieve with just an online presence. Among other things, they found they were missing out on business opportunities like weddings and events.
These kinds of retail developments make sense for those young shoppers – the kind who would use Warby Parker’s photo booth. While Millennials are more likely than their parents or grandparents to shop online, 81 percent of their dollars are still spent in stores, according to NPD Group. They still value the experience of shopping and seek entertaining and fun venues. They will use all the channels and switch among them according to their needs and desires.
This pursuit of total retail offerings is a helpful trend.