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Microsoft Industry Blogs - India

The retail experience evolves constantly. Sometimes the changes are the result of a new startup with clever ideas, other times the changes come from established companies who have discovered ways to appeal to a new generation of customers  or to take advantage of new and evolving technology. We spoke with Stephen Rose, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Windows and Devices at Microsoft, to get some examples of what he’s seen.

Customer interface

CKE Restaurants, the company that own and runs Carl’s, Jr. and Hardee’s, discovered 68 percent of their customers were Millennials, male, and don’t want to deal with human beings, preferring screens instead. CKE has tested touch-screen order kiosks at a number of their stores and customers are reacting well. The test stores have seen an increase in sales and the customers enjoy being able to control their ordering experience. Rose commented that, “This program has been so successful that CKE is speeding up the roll out.”

Assisted fitting rooms

Kohl’s department stores debuted interactive fitting rooms that automatically recognize which items are brought in by shoppers. Rose said, “Screens in the fitting rooms display the items and, if the shopper grabbed the wrong size or want a different color, she can use the screen to send a message to a sales associate’s Window’s phone to request the preferred size or color, which is delivered to the fitting room.” Such innovations keep the shopper engaged in trying on clothes instead of hunting for items, which has resulted in better sales.

People don’t like to do things the old ways … and companies that don’t adapt are being left behind.

Customized experience

Video game retailer Game Stop is using the Kinect device to track the location of customers in the store to facilitate a couple of interesting innovations. First, the device senses the game a customer has picked up off the shelf and automatically starts playing a trailer for that game in order to give the customer more information. The same Kinect device creates a “heat map” of the store over the course of the day so managers can see which parts of the store are getting the most traffic.

“Technology is changing the expectations of customers,” Rose said. “People don’t like to do things the old ways … and companies that don’t adapt are being left behind. Companies need to take advantage of technological advances to separate themselves from the pack.”

Which companies do you think are doing a good job of improving the shopping experience? Did we miss any companies you think are setting themselves apart? Let us know on Facebook, or get the “Unplugged: How mobility changes the way we work” eBook for full insights on building a mobile strategy for your business using low-cost devices from $99.