Getting help while you're shopping can get frustrating. Either you’re asked, “May I help you?” 78 times when you just want to browse or the retail clerk is unable to answer your question when you actually do have one.

Two companies who specialize in digital experiences think they have a solution.

T+Ink and Vizicom are forming an alliance with a common goal: create a system of live agents ready to answer questions on customers’ smartphones while they’re in the store. You could fire up the live agent by tapping some type of interactive trigger net to the product.

It could strike most as a little weird and futuristic. Could it work?

Enhancing In-Store Experiences

Wayne Nemeth, the chief operating officer of T+Ink, certainly thinks so. The company says it makes all objects smart: in most cases you can touch a product with your smartphone and launch a web page or app that give you additional details.

The technology is designed to surpass QR codes, which are often difficult to scan and many consumers struggle with.

The plan, by partnering with Kandy, is to enable customers to connect with a “live expert” on their device. This could be accomplished in a number of ways, according to T+Ink:

  • Selecting a relevant product card
  • Touching the product with a web page or app on a smartphone or tablet
  • Getting automatically routed to a product expert via camera (the customer’s camera wouldn’t have to show you, in case you don’t feel like video conferencing with someone you’ve never met)
  • Videos and tutorials specific to their product
  • Sharing consumer data directly with the brand (consumers may be less excited about this one)

By adding real time communications into the experience, T+ink is able to not only bridge the physical and digital realms, but also extend that to include human interactions, Nemeth said.

Learning Opportunities

Phone Fixations

T+Ink has created products for retail companies like Sears, Wal-Mart and CVS. Instead of dealing with an uninspired retail clerk or pushing the buttons on a non-functioning digital display board, you’re able to get product information right on your phone.

Other contributions come from Vizicom, which specializes with in-store shopping experiences. The combined know-how could create some compelling actions, although time will tell if customers are going to go for that type of interaction.

For example, research from commerce marketing company Bronto Software found that when most customers hop on their phone to shop it isn’t to research the product - it’s to find a better deal. About 65 percent will look for coupons or other promotions, 63 percent will check prices on the store’s web site and 61 percent will look for a lower price elsewhere.

Such digital experiences, as being worked on by T+Ink and others, better be good. Otherwise when people whip out their phones, they’ll be more likely to browse the competition instead of having a chat with a talking head.

Title image by Giles Lambert

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