Augmented Retail: A vision of the future for brick and mortars

Will live streaming video revive the UK's high street? Co-founder of digital retail specialist GoInStore, Andre Hordagoda certainly thinks so.
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By the year 2021, it is predicted that live video will account for 82 per cent of the world’s internet traffic.

We are already in an age where YouTube is fast becoming the go-to means of marketing for many children’s brands and toy firms, while mediums like Facebook Live, SnapChat and Instagram Stories are offering audiences more and more channels of viewable content to engage with.

While yes, the negatives surrounding the impact of social media are often spoken about, the positives can not be ignored. Today, social media uses have at their fingers a means of communicating with a global community.

At a time in which the UK high street is still coming to real terms with the disappointing Christmas sales widely reported among some of the biggest players, the global live video streaming specialist, GoInStore believes it has stumbled upon a means of bringing social media and retail together in a way that will reaffirm the High Street retailer’s relevance in an increasingly digital global community.

The concept is based on one simple premise: that retailers can bring live streaming video technology in store in order to engage with those consumers reluctant to travel or leave the confines of their globally-connected social hub.

ToyNews spoke exclusively to Andre Hordagoda, co-founder of GoInStore to learn more about the concept.

“We are bringing in store experiences to life for online shoppers by using immersive, real time live video. The idea is to deliver a seamless customer experience between a retailer’s website and their stores,” he explains.

The technology works by using one-way video (from store to website) and two-way audio. While browsing the website, customers can click a button on the webpage and be taken into the store or demo location, fro the comfort of their own home.

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“We are mindful of only offering the service to customers when there is a relevant store person available. So, we created intelligent call routing which considers things like product category and location when deciding which sales person to connect the customer with,” Hordagoda adds.

In essence, GoInStore’s concept creates a new type of role for instore staff, training them to become Live advisers who use the traditional brick and mortar sales skills to inform and even upsell to customers.

“Because live video uses retailer’s strongest existing assets; their people, stores and brand, it increased the profitability and efficiency of these resources,” says Hordagoda.

“This helps to reinvent stores, so that they not only meet high street demand, but also support the online customer journey, this is in growing trend of retail spaces becoming showrooms or demo stores on the high street.

“Additionally, staff also have the opportunity to drive online customers instore, as they build a relationship with them and immerse the customers in the brand and store experience.”

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Andre Hordagoda shares his compelling vision for the future of high street retail.

The nature of toy selling – purchases for around yearly events such as birthdays and Christmas – makes the market, according to Hordagoda, ideal for the GoInStore concept.

“With our Live Broadcaster feature, imagine turning a toy website in to a shopping channel? It’s like visiting Hamleys and seeing store staff demonstrate the latest must have, the only difference being they are communicating with a larger online audience.”

We know what you’re thinking. Of course a retailer like Hamleys has the kind of money to invest in the concept of live video streaming. So what about the smaller, independent stores?

“We have worked with larger independent stores in the past to help them to set up live video shopping with our feature rich solution, however for smaller retailers you can use Facebook or YouTube Live,” says Hordagoda.

“While they don’t offer the tracking, service and features that we do, you can set up your own live channels to promote your store, with some marketing budget to push your broadcasts.

“We have, however, seen a big difference here in terms of viewing time and conversion metrics. I guess embedding into the retailer’s website means you are reaching people with more intent to buy when compared to social channels.”

But why is now the right time to be thinking about the digital move? Hordagoda explains his predicted vision of the future of retail:

“We think that bricks and mortar of retailing in the UK will continue to change with more shops and shopping malls becoming lifestyle destinations,” he says.

“Customers will continue to research and make their purchase decisions online and still visit the store to immerse themselves in the brand experience. Live online product and brand demonstrations will be broadcast through shopping centres, stores and websites simultaneously, which will provide localised and personalised content and experiences for shoppers within shopping locations and in the comfort of their homes.”

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According to the live streaming video specialist, AR is to play a larger role in retail, providing product and brand information to be overlaid on the live video stream.

“For example, a Live Adviser could show pricing and key features alongside the toy in the live video. This extra information provides support to the sales person and importantly, helps the customer in making a purchase decision.”

Is it a bold vision of the future, maybe not quite so much as one would think.

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