Imagine a talking mirror that invites shoppers to take a selfie or a store window display that you can “talk to” via your smartphone. If this sounds like an episode of “The Jetsons” or a futuristic movie, think again. These interactive retail experiences are in stores today and are transforming the way consumers interact with brands. Andreas Hassellöf, founder and CEO of Ombori, the creator of the talking mirror and other point-of-purchase interactive technologies, says his company’s goal is to get past the often awkward retail store technology and make it fun for customers and beneficial for store owners. 

Says Hassellof, “In physical spaces, you have a lot of people, so the focus is on triggering a relationship. The formula is based on creating surprise, satisfaction of experience, and then making a conversion. Big screens are a great way for grabbing attention, making them ideal catalysts for a relationship, but it’s far more likely that the personal dialogue will stay connected to personal devices.”

The Ombori Grid powers such innovations in retail spaces, bringing seamless display and mobile experiences to the public. Not only do interactive retail components provide an engaging encounter for consumers, but they also harness a modern relationship between brands and customers. From an operational standpoint, Ombori customer management systems also leverage the company’s technology to streamline back-of-house processes and increase staffing efficiencies.

Ombori Smart Store Technology Is Changing the Face of Retail

The future is now when it comes to interactive retail technology. Below are just a few examples of how Ombori and their partner retailers are changing the way customers connect with their favorite stores.

1. The talking mirror

This isn’t Snow White’s mirror. The talking mirror, implemented by H&M in their Times Square, New York City store, sits in sleeping mode until it recognizes a shopper or senses that someone has been looking at it for an extended period of time. Then, it comes to life, asking the patron if he or she wants to take a selfie. The mirror gives the person a countdown to get ready and provides the “magazine cover” framing. It is fun self-promotion for the store. If the customer likes the photo, they can download it to their phone, using a special QR code. To date, 86 percent of those taking selfies with the mirror have opted to download them.

For the brand, the multifunctional selfie experience provides various benefits. First, there is an increase in selfies with a visible store logo being posted all over social media. Additionally, the customer has the option to subscribe to the store’s newsletter, something that 10 percent of the users have done. This gives the store new potential customers to market their products to, and a means of developing a long-standing relationship through the newsletter medium.

2. Interactive window displays

Another Ombori-powered retail innovation is the interactive window display at the Clas Ohlson main store in Stockholm. The high-end home and hardware retailer features a giant screen in their window. Passersby can “talk” with the screen and learn about the store’s specials and inventory without ever entering the store. They can even make purchases by interacting with the screen. Interested shoppers simply scan a QR code to be able to “talk” with the screen.

The screen is getting a vast amount of attention. Says Hassellof, “When a user starts to play with the screen, it stops everyone else around them, too. It has the stopping power that (every retailer) is trying to achieve.”  An added benefit for the store is that, with the interactive screen, the store is never closed. Customers can make purchases 24/7 by “talking” with the screen. 

An attention-grabbing storefront display has the propensity to draw a passerby to a designated location and can provide targeted information to potential consumers. Ombori’s personalized digital signage solutions allow retail partners to customize and control display options via an easy-to-use interface.

3. Your own virtual shopping assistant

Another Ombori retail innovation is a virtual shopping assistant, now being tested by Dufry AG, a travel retailer, at the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport in Madrid, Spain. To activate the shopping assistant, which is located at a kiosk within the store, shoppers scan their boarding passes. The assistant will then tell them their flight status, how long they have to shop and where to find specific items in the store. Says Helena Radeson, global marketing manager for Dufry, “We are constantly looking to bring our consumers elevated shopping experiences at their own terms, and these tests truly break the barriers between on- and offline and enable consumers to move seamlessly between personal and in-store devices. The voice feature is marvelous to bring consumers attention and the boarding pass scan with following flight and gate info are great calls to action.”

Ombori plans to install additional virtual shopping assistants in stores in Zurich, Switzerland, with new installations already delighting customers in Madrid, Spain and Stockholm, Sweden.

What to Look for in Retail Technology in the Future

Technology, like the talking mirror and the interactive window display, blur the lines between online and traditional brick-and-mortar shopping. Ombori and their partner retailers see these new interactive retail tools as providing effective solutions to evolving with customer service demands and consumer expectations. 

According to a 2017 study by Pew Research, consumers, especially millennials, are looking for more ways to connect with stores via technology and social media. These intuitive retail tools are appealing to consumers in that they allow for additional contact points and make shopping more fun, interactive, and memorable. Retailers benefit by being able to keep in more constant contact with their customer base.

According to Andreas Hassellöf, successful future UX design will focus on creating retail customer experiences that are a “rolling journey of communications”, similar to how your TV screening can travel from one TV set to one in another room. As customer-focused technology continues to evolve, be on the lookout for retail experiences that travel from a big, in-store screen to your mobile phone to your laptop at home. Look for more, exciting and ground-breaking products from Ombori and their retail partners in the coming months and years.

About Ombori

Ombori is an innovative technology company that provides a platform for ready-to-use, customizable, modular solutions for interactive in-store screens and mobile devices. The Swedish-based company is the creative force behind such revolutionary in-store technology as the talking mirror that asks shoppers to take a selfie with it and the interactive window display that lets passersby shop without even entering the store. Ombori customer management systems, virtual queueing systems, and other operational solutions streamline day-to-day retail activities. Ombori has retail partners in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

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