Elo Dreams of Online Shopping in Physical Stores

3 minute read
Grant Gross avatar

Touch screen pioneer Elo Touch Solutions wants to bring the convenience of the web-based shopping experience into retail stores.

Many retailers and other business have poured huge investments into their online presence in recent years, but they aren’t taking advantage of those resources when customers visit their bricks-and-mortar stores, said Craig Witsoe, the company’s CEO.

Many retailers now have “fantastic” e-commerce, but more than 80 percent of sales still happen in stores, he noted.

Another problem: Customers visiting retail stores walk around with their eyes glued on a smartphone or tablet and don’t notice the products around them.

Heads Up Please

Retailers want to move away from the “heads-down environment when a customer is in a store and they’re looking down at their phone,” he said. “We know that they’re not aware of the environment around them.”

For years, Elo Touch has marketed large-screen monitors and tablets to several industries, including health care, gaming, transportation and retail. Earlier this year, it launched an integrated suite of products for retailers, including touchscreen hardware, cloud-hosted digital content and new point-of-sale software.

The combination of Elo’s large touchscreens displaying a retailer’s web store, along with a knowledgeable, in-the-flesh salesperson, encourages customers to be in “this heads-up, looking around mode, and you’re opening then up to value of your store associate,” Witsoe said.


The company calls the combination of a large touchscreen with a helpful sales association “side-by-side interaction.” Retailers’ efforts to combine the physical and digital sales assets is becoming popular in Asia but also gaining traction in the US and Europe, the company maintains.

Salespeople and digital stores are “really effective when they work side by side,” Witsoe said.The company focuses on providing retailers a big enough screen that a customer and salesperson can look over products, and “it can be a socially comfortable interaction,” he explained. “You and I crowding around an iPad or staring at a phone is socially uncomfortable because we’re probably crowding each other’s space.”

Learning Opportunities

The privately held Elo Touch, based in Milpitas, Calif., doesn’t share sales numbers, but its hardware suppliers are “working hard” to keep up with demand, he added.

Primary Customers

The large touchscreens are popular with car dealerships, where customers can custom design vehicles with the colors and features they want, and with clothing retailers that can’t carry all the products they offer online.

“How many sales get lost to, ‘oh, I’m sorry, we don’t have your size?’” Witsoe said.

Appliance and electronics dealers are also seeing the value of large touchscreens, he said. Their thinking: “How do I sell all the things I want to sell, but I have a limited amount of physical space? That’s where they’ll put that endless-aisle inventory.”

The company sells a 22-inch touchscreen/computer for less than $1,000. Its cloud-based software portal, including security and hardware monitoring, costs about $12 per touchscreen.

Title image by Timothy Muza