How can retailers better leverage their store resources to encourage online transactions? Tapping into the growing trend of using live video, GoInStore has developed real-time video streaming capabilities for the retail sector, which promise to bridge the disparity in customer experience and conversion rates between the physical and digital channels. Furniture News speaks to co-founder, André Hordagoda …

What problem was GoInStore designed to overcome?

GoInStore came about from a chance visit to a premium fashion retailer one morning, where I noticed there were more staff available than customers, which got me thinking – at that same moment in time, how many people were shopping this brand online??

How many of those people would have liked to have asked an experienced, knowledgeable member of staff more about a product?

After chatting to Aman Khurana, my colleague at the time (who was a college friend and became a co-founder of GoInStore), and acknowledging low online conversion rates of around 1-2% versus in-store conversion rates of around 20-30%, we quickly realised the business opportunity to increase conversion rates by connecting online customers with in-store staff and experience. GoInStore was born.

Where was its first application?

Its first application was in a music store, which helped us prove how effective GoInStore is when customers are researching online. We established that the more considered, complex or emotional products were, the greater the impact GoInStore would have. This was also true of the disparity in conversion rates between the two channels – so by bringing the in-store customer experience online, people found it easier to make these more involved purchases.

Can you describe how the technology empowers both the retailer/salesperson and customer to enjoy a better shopping experience??

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

We’re 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 salesperson to connect the customer with. This ensures that the customer is passed to the best possible person to help with their purchase.

From the sales assistant’s perspective, they can replicate the in-store experience for online customers by using the GoInStore app, which is installed onto a smartphone or smart glasses. The video stream is captured using the cameras on these devices and then passed to the website browser in real time, effectively allowing the customer to see through the eyes of the sales assistant whilst they facilitate the important two-way dialogue. In effect, the assistants become live advisers on the website.

The benefits to retailers of GoInStore’s live video solution are multiple, as it utilises those powerful assets that distinguish them from the likes of Amazon – their brand, stores, products and staff.?

Therefore, by integrating GoInStore’s live video into their customers’ journeys, retailers can improve the efficiency and profitability of their existing in-store and people assets.

When customers start to use live video to ask questions and see the products demonstrated, they are much more likely to book an appointment in store and go on to buy. For consumers, when you combine the convenience of online shopping with the experience of being in store, it saves them time and allows them to get a better understanding of what they are going to buy and the brand selling to them.

As well as offering one-to-one live video, GoInStore also partner with retailers to deliver one-to-many customer engagements through our live broadcaster feature. This enables retailers to broadcast via live video across their website, Facebook and YouTube simultaneously. ?

Imagine turning a website into a live shopping channel to push and promote certain products, and using your store as the set location, and your top-performing salespeople as the presenters. We’re achieving phenomenal metrics with our early adopters, all the way from viewing times to time on site, and, of course, conversion rates and order values.

How might the technology be applied in the furniture retail sector, and have you executed any projects in this arena?

We are speaking to a number of furniture retailers at the moment, and they are telling us that the use cases we have worked on with other retailers and brands like Dyson, Porsche and Marriott, also apply to them.?

Being able to capture customers early in their online research phase, and being able to speak to them and demonstrate the products in real time before they visit a store or showroom, improves omnichannel experience and increases bookings and sales.? Not everyone can get to the store, so having someone bring the product to life can be the tipping point for many in their decision making.

GoInStore has been working with DFS in the Netherlands on a pilot project, and have recently just signed Sofa.com, so we’re excited to be helping the furniture sector use live video commerce.?

What does technology like GoInStore mean for the future of bricks-and-mortar stores?

By connecting in-store retail staff to website customers using live video, GoInStore has created revolutionary new types of roles in bricks-and-mortar retail – the live adviser and the live broadcaster, whose objective is to create interactive human and personalised digital shopping experiences. This will help to change the way in-store staff and resource is allocated to support online traffic and customers.?

Bricks-and-mortar retailing is innovating at pace, and GoInStore’s live video technology is aligned with these changes. In our view, customers will continue to research and make their purchase decisions online and still visit the store to immerse themselves in the brand experience. ?

Our technology enables live online product and brand demonstrations which will be broadcast through shopping centres, stores and websites simultaneously, providing localised and personalised content and experiences for shoppers within shopping locations and in the comfort of their homes.

Live video is adding a new dimension to the way brands engage with their customers.?

Can you provide any figures to demonstrate how GoInStore has helped transaction rates?

By delivering an in-store experience to website customers, GoInStore generates the high conversion rates associated with in-store footfall, to retailers’ highest-traffic channel – their website.?

For example, retailers saw an increase in online conversion rate of at least x 10, and average order value (AOV) by +56% from January to September 2017, when GoInStore’s live video appeared in the customer journey.

Based on your experience, what can retail learn from other sectors when it comes to selling and the omnichannel proposition?

That’s an interesting question – in my experience the retail sector is more advanced than many others when it comes to selling using data and technology, and what it means to have an omnichannel proposition.?

However, I think there are challenges that all sectors face where they can learn from each other – the growth of experiential shopping centres and stores, and the immergence of driverless cars being two examples. These new areas will change the way we all shop and travel and are inexorably linked, so I see that there will be more partnerships or even acquisitions across sectors, where different companies will work together in ever-more complex customer journeys.

How is the technology likely to develop, and what’s the next step for the company?

We are currently developing enhanced functionality to support scheduled calls and more client data being made available to the sales assistant for clienteling (technology that passes the sales assistant relevant customer data to support the customer journey). Retailers will be able to offer this, for prearranged calls and personal shopper-type services.

For our live broadcaster feature, we have just launched more interactive capabilities, allowing the host to take questions from the (online) audience. The broadcaster will also be able to pose questions or topics to customers for them to then vote on, creating live interactive content.

For 2018, GoInStore is also developing live video featuring augmented reality (AR). Whilst the live video element still provides the human interaction, AR will provide product and brand information overlaid on the live video stream. For example, a retail assistant can show pricing and graphical measurements alongside the furniture in the live video.

Next steps for the company are to continue the growth we saw in 2017 and focus on our expansion into Europe and the US. We are speaking to a number of prominent retailers globally, so watch this space!