Very occasionally we come across a technology that is such a self evidently good fit that almost no explanation is required.
As background, Axel Arigato is a premium apparel retailer that designs in Italy and makes product in Portugal. Products are sold off the company website and in selected locations. The largest line is shoes.
Shoes are not easy to sell online because people prefer to try for size before they buy. The Go Instore application attempts to overcome that by providing a two-way voice and one-way video link from the store to the customer via smartphone.
The way it works is deceptively simple. Customers view products online and as they’re doing so, a ‘helper’ application slides out from the side inviting the users to call a live, in-store assistant. A store assistant picks up the call on the system enabled smartphone and deals with the customer’s query. In Axel Arigato’s case, the smartphone is attached to a stabilizing device (see image above) so that the inbound calling customer gets the best view possible of products on display. Gimmicky?
You might think so but Costa Kardana, Store Supervisor, Axel Arigato London is totally sold:
I think it’s fantastic. For a lot of people who are looking at shoes online, and maybe our shoes are being sold on another website as well, pictures don’t really convey the reality. This system gives them an actual view, my view almost. They’re truly seeing the product and the materials up-close and so it’s much more personal.
But then sizing is always an issue, especially width fitting so how does the system overcome that problem?
I have a slimmer, flatter foot so can show them how that works with different styles plus my store knowledge allows me to show those shoes that are more standard and those that are broader in fit. It provides a much greater sense of reassurance.
Returning to the shoe size fit issue I quipped that the next step might be to superimpose a foot onto a product to check for fit. Johnathan, Go Instore UK head of marketing said:
Funny you should say that. We’re looking at combining live video with Augmented Reality. There’s lots of different applications, so that might help someone in-store to actually superimpose products on images. That is the future that we’re looking atl.
What about the broader context of the store, its location and so on. Back to Kardana:
People have been quite surprised. Go Instore gives them an experience of being able to see our store and when I explain the location and the fact it’s central, then that is a draw.
What about results? According to the company, they have seen a 20-30% increase in sales, a 12x increase in online conversion rates and 61% increase in average order value. Those are impressive results.
Go Instore is the kind of application my Amazon addicted partner (and possibly our own Stuart Lauchlan) might be pleased to see. From the demonstration I saw, it is clear that any well trained and product savvy store person will be comfortable using this system but therein lies the one gotcha.
Store personnel will have to be much more than product shifters. Adjusting from being the person who simply fits according to a customer’s choice to one that is providing meaningful advice requires knowledge and training. How many stores will be prepared to make that investment in people? We shall see.
Image credit - images via the author