Kiosks Bring Online Convenience to Stores

English: The logo of Adidas. Русский: Логотип ...

tailers are installing interactive screens in their stores and at non-traditional retail locations, affording customers an in-store, online experience. [Adidas]
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MCLEAN, VA - Companies including Macy's, HSN and Adidas are installing TV-like interactive screens that afford customers online-like shopping experiences, an effort to bring the convenience of online shopping into physical stores, USA Today reports.

"We are on the frontier of a really neat future of retailing," said Michelle Tinsley, general manager of retail at Intel, whose core processor is integrated into many of the new kiosks.

HSN's digital shopping experience has flexible applications. For instance, it could be installed in an airport, allowing consumers to virtually shop for knives while waiting for a flight, completing the purchase through their smartphone.

"It is a way to refresh the shopping experience without having to rebuild a new store," said Joe Skorupa, editor of retail publication RIS News.

Macy's Beauty Spot kiosk, a 7-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide structure inlaid with interactive touch-screens, allows a customer to browse the store's makeup brands in one place.

"It is particularly aimed at a customer who comes into a department store but really prefers to shop on their own, as opposed to coming up to a counter and getting assistance," said Jim Sluzewski, a Macy's spokesperson.

The retailer installed four kiosks last November, though Sluzewski said it's too soon to assess whether the move has increased sales.

In the two weeks Adidas offered its virtual shoe wall in one of its London stores, it realized a 500% jump in sales of its soccer cleat, compared with a similar product it launched six months earlier at the same price.

The touch-screen portion of the wall displays digital photos of a product including marketing content. It also integrates Twitter feeds to show what customers are saying.

Customers can shop for products as if online, adding a product to a virtual basket. The information is sent to a checkout counter where payment is made.

Chris Aubrey, director of commercial experience for Adidas, characterized the wall as an "endless aisle" that gives "customers access to the widest range of products that we possibly can" because it isn't restricted by physical store inventories.

"The limitations that were there prior were based on how much product were in a physical location," said Mitch Joel, president of digital marketing agency Twist Image. "You no longer have to have that issue. You can have a store in Peoria and sell as much inventory as if you were in Times Square."

For retailers expanding into combination online-offline shopping experiences, they must embrace the merits of self-serve shopping, Joel said.

"You have customers going into stores that are very adept and knowledgeable about what they're looking for," he said. "They really don't need much assistance other than the ability to get in, get out and have a great experience."

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