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Simon FrancisSolutions Specialist
Simon Francis manages the Windows Embedded Enterprise business in the UK, Nordics and India. He works closely with Microsoft’s customers in their use of specialized devices to build and support their businesses. Simon joined the Windows Embedded team two years ago, “I am fascinated by the imaginative solutions that customers and partners build across all verticals. Windows Embedded and intelligent systems provides a great platform for this.”
In previous roles, Simon worked for Intel and also spent many years focussed on IT Systems Management. In his home time, Simon is an avid amateur cook and is a recent convert to road cycling.
Posted By Simon FrancisSolutions Specialist
I was speaking recently with employees of a large UK food retailer, and was really impressed with the way they were looking at using even the simplest store device to help build their relationship with their customers and provide valuable insight.
The more I speak with retailers, the more I hear them speak about improving this relationship, and what better way than providing a simple method of allowing customers to provide their opinions so that organizations can tailor the experience accordingly? Once this customer research is fed back into a central repository, they have the opportunity to survey customers across the country.
One retailer’s solution was based around one of the lowliest and often overlooked devices–however, we all use them on multiple occasions throughout the day–the credit-card reader; in this case, the chip-and-pin devices that are widespread throughout the UK and continental Europe. At the end of the payment transaction, the stores have coded a simple yes/no question. It started with a simple “Did you enjoy your shopping experience today?” but has now expanded to ask customers questions that help the organization to craft their store service.
Comments Intelligent Systems
Our two-part blog series on “smart” shopping trends continues with this analysis from Simon Francis on dressing-room innovation.
Delay mirrors, like this one from Comqi, record and plays back the last few seconds of your life, so you can check your look from behind
Now and then you come across an idea that really makes you take your hat off to the instigators’ ingenuity. This happened to me on a recent shopping expedition whilst looking for a new pair of jeans.
After locating the pair I wanted, I headed off to the changing-room area. The rooms were great, in a cool industrial theme, very stylish, lots of space…altogether nice. After putting on the jeans, I ventured out of the changing room and headed towards a large mirror nearby.
They say you can depend on two things in life: death and taxes. I believe there is a third thing that comes into play for all the non-vampires among us: You should be able to see your reflection in a mirror. So it is very disconcerting when you don’t.
After 15 seconds of waving my arms around looking hard at an apparently faulty mirror (who ever heard of a mirror that doesn’t work?), something magical happened: The “mirror” jumped into life and played back the last 15 seconds of my life. No, it wasn’t something from “Back to the Future”–it was in fact a video kiosk on a delay loop. It took another 15 seconds for this the “ah ha” moment to sink in.
How fantastic to provide a kiosk solution that not only increases the “theater of retail,” but also provides a way for customers to check “Does my bum look big in this?” As a customer, I have raved about this experience. And yes, I bought the jeans, and I will go back.
Comments Windows Embedded Standard
I recently attended this year’s Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) at Earls Court in London. I often think that trade events focus on how bad a cup of coffee can be or how much the attendees are prepared to pay for a ham sandwich. However, RBTE was a real eye opener for me. It offers the opportunity for retailers to review the latest and greatest from the tech community and to hear from other retailers like Julian Burnett, head of retail architecture for John Lewis, who ran a great session on retail innovation.
The Retail Business Technology Expo in London brought some eye-opening intelligent solutions to light.
This year I had the opportunity to review solutions from three organizations, all of which demonstrate the potential of intelligent systems and Windows Embedded.
I’ve become a fascinated observer of the shopping experience here in the UK, and the many opportunities to use technology to transform poor customer experiences. A recent shopping experience of my own highlighted the opportunity that is lost when stores don’t support their sales associates.
Rapidly approaching middle age—OK, I’ll admit it: I am middle-aged, and maybe I was shopping in a store better suited to Generation Y–but here’s my “Why.”
Many retail store displays keep inventory overhead…or in a back room. A connected handheld device could instantly offer in-stock information.
I found a particularly great sweatshirt—great color, great logo—not in my size. No problem; there was a store associate nearby, looking far too cool to be disturbed, but he came straight over and was extremely helpful. He checked all of the shelves for the right size. This included grabbing a ladder and checking the shelves that were far too high up to be of use. Then he ran down two flights of the nearby stairs, saying that he would get a check of the store room.
On a recent trip to New York, I took a couple of hours out of the schedule to enjoy some Fifth Avenue “Retail Therapy”…please don’t tell my boss….
It is difficult in my line of business not to notice the differences in retail experiences, and how they can be improved. In this occasion a particular example came to mind, I would call this “Don’t Leave Me!!”
One large clothing store was on the itinerary. I really like this brand and I am a regular customer. However, on this visit I looked at what is a fairly typical situation from a “Why isn’t this better?” viewpoint. I selected the trousers (pants; I’m from the UK) I wanted, in my size and headed for the changing rooms. It was a wintery day, so after entering the cubicle I removed my coat, assembled my precious earlier purchases in the corner and got down to the business of trying the pants on.
Wrong size—too short and too small around the waist to even close. Peeking my head out the door, I saw no assistant. Now I enter into what I call “Changing Room Dilemma”—how do I get the size I want?