Customer demands are changing – and fast. To keep up, retailers need a flexible, scalable platform that grows with their business, as we find out from Xomni
This article was first published in the Spring 2015 issue of OnWindows
It could not be more critical for retailers to bridge the gap between digital and their bricks-and-mortar stores than it is today, says Xomni CEO Chad Brown. “When you think about what the store does for the online channel, and vice versa, it should be about creating a sense of continuity,” he explains. “Bring those channels together and you truly maximise your return on investment, and satisfy the customer.”
Xomni – a company whose name stands for ‘Experience Omni-channel’ – is achieving this vision through a cloud-based omni-channel experience enablement platform. The company caters for creative interactive agencies who want to leverage the Xomni Cloud to gain access to retailers’ existing systems, add new data sources (think IoT), orchestrate the data and leverage a consistent API to develop applications. Xomni Cloud also incorporates retail-specific functionality that makes building visually rich concierge, assisted selling and self-service applications easy.
“The idea of using a cloud platform to develop applications isn’t new,” says Brown. “However, we are not talking about one-size-fits-all applications. The Xomni model is unfettered UX and scenario development that enables contextual and personalised experiences without compromising massive scale. If our channel partners can dream it, they should be able to build it.”
This March, Xomni launched the third generation of its cloud platform, complete with significant scalability enhancements. “We base our performance requirements on what a retailer might experience during peak shopping days,” says Daron Yondem, CTO of Xomni. “For example, a tier-one retailer’s requirements include 60 queries per second and 11 gigabytes of data. With the release of Xomni Cloud v3 we can scale well beyond the industry’s current need.”
Cost effective and quick to implement, the solution incorporates a blend of typical retail functionality along with some novel capability designed to accelerate innovation.
One such feature is OmniPlay. Highlighted in a recent GameStop win, OmniPlay allows individual assets, product views or the customer presence to be passed from one device to another, assuming certain rules are met (geofence, beacon location or device capability). In this implementation, video content can be initiated from a consumer or associate device and sent to a 4K display in store, significantly increasing the ROI of a passive digital sign by making it interactive.
The GameStop experience is a compelling one, however, as Brown notes, one challenge that Xomni faces is the perception of complexity. “The term omni-channel inspires thoughts of user-centric, integrated, immersive and, by connection, complicated experiences,” he says. “First, Xomni makes integration with existing systems easy; second, although Xomni provides a seemingly endless list of features and supported scenarios, no one said you must use them all in one application! We encourage the use of what we call ‘micro experiences’ to engage customers in a meaningful but simplistic way. From there, you can encourage a deeper engagement.”
With the launch of Xomni Cloud v3, all the tools are there to build deep ‘macro experiences’ and more pointed ‘micro experiences.’ Version 3.1, which is targeted for a June release, will build on this thanks to the adoption of API Management – a new feature of Microsoft Azure.
“APIs bring innovation and agility, and at the same time drive a lot of data that can and should be used to improve user experience,” says Evgeny Popov, principal program manager at Microsoft. “That is why we teamed up with Xomni to deliver a powerful end-to-end retail platform.”
“Really, Xomni Cloud v3.1 should be called v4 as we consider it to be a major release,” adds Brown. “It’s significant for many reasons, but primarily because it will allow us to easily incorporate super innovative third-party technology partners such as My Style Genie.”
A new Xomni Technology Partner, My Style Genie is an expert in dynamic recommendations and has technology capable of putting together coordinating products that are highly relevant based on personal style, preferences, use, or even margin. “Through this partnership, retailers are able to provide the high-touch personalised service of days gone by in store, mobile, outbound or online,” says Laura Khoury, CEO at My Style Genie. “Our web service enables retailers to serve shoppers as a trusted personal assistant to help them find the best products for them, and suggest complete ensembles tailored to their objectives and style. The result is a win-win experience – customers are delighted with the personal service they receive and retailers have increased basket size and customer loyalty.”
Behind the Xomni-My Style Genie integration is thebigspace, a specialist in retail consumer engagement and connected experiences. “Our Omni-Channel Style Guide application needed the power, speed and flexibility of Xomni and the dynamic integrated analytics of the MSG recommendation engine to quickly analyse data,” says founding director Dick Lockard. “Working together, we’ll be able to optimise the customer’s buying decision and create highly targeted and relevant connections while maximising profit for retailers.”
Of course, as Brown knows all too well, the future of retail is always evolving. “The question is, what’s next?” he says. “If anyone tries to tell you definitively what the future of retail engagement is, they’re making it up. No one knows! This is why flexibility is core to our platform. We’ll involve the best partners, give them the utmost flexibility and see what great things happen!”
The term is currently a “catch-all” for applications touching on a variety of in-venue functions that support customer questions or request for services. These applications take many forms and run on a variety of devices such as Interactive Digital Signage, Kiosks, Associate Tablets or even the customers own mobile device.
Concierge Applications can be an evolution of existing functions such as Way Finding, Assisted Selling or Price Lookup services. However, they can also be an opportunity for NET-NEW innovation. For example: Using the very latest in geofencing, audience measurement, facial recognition, social integration and suggestion engine technology to expose new workflows on top of existing CRM, Loyalty, Product and Inventory data.
At XOMNI we help our customers quickly test and ultimately scale Concierge functions in their environment by providing rich data integration, content delivery and relevant out of box functionality. Over the coming months leading up to NRF 2015, we will be talking more about the future of Concierge applications and showing examples as they become public. If you have an interest, be sure to follow us on Twitter.
For now, here is our example from NRF 2014. If you haven’t already seen it… check it out.
If you are a follower of our blog you know we are a huge fan of enhancing user experience in omni-channel assisted selling scenarios. We craft our APIs around cutting edge experiences to help our agency partners and retailers enable new type of interactions. If you did not have the chance to watch yet I strongly suggest not to miss our demos from NRF 2014 where we showcase a glasses free 3D In-Store experience and the Omni-Play, Omni-Discovery features we are very proud about.
So you might ask “what’s the next step forward?” and the answer might be “Eye Tracking.” Today with the help of EyeTribe Eye Tracking device it is possible to track eyeball movement without the need of special glasses. The device can be easily incorporated in an in-store experience and our XOMNI APIs will give you all you need to enable eye tracking in retail.
Glasses Free Eye Tracking in Retail
Eye tracking is one step ahead of multi-touch and/or gesture recognition. It can help you track subconscious behavior without letting any additional hardware requirement or glasses. We think this is just a small step forward getting to reach a perfect in-store experience. With the help of our APIs the eye tracking metadata can be used within a wide range of concepts including campaign analytics, loyalty engagement and much more. We are looking forward to share more in upcoming blog posts about the future of retail where our APIs enable amazing experiences in your stores!
Hope you enjoyed our video.
We updated our product brochure for NRF 2014. Let us know what you think!
By way of our technology partners from Pyramid (The makers of the polytouch device) XOMNI will be showing our technology at ISE this year. Specifically: Come see our Retail cloud platform demonstrated at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2014, Amsterdam RAI, February 4-6 (stand 8-H270) .
Pyramid announced it will be showcasing a new 46” polytouch self-service table for retail banking environments alongside new polytouch multi-touch terminals equipped with switchable privacy filter technology. We look forward to seeing that. Here is a mock-up of the polytouch booth. (below) Well done!
My guess… several years away. Let’s talk about today!
XOMNI and Magnetic 3D show off Glasses-Free 3D in the Retail environment at NRF 2014.
XOMNI is excited to be in the Microsoft booth for the umpteenth year talking about retail experiences that matter, are real and make a difference today. This year we have two spots in the both. 1) Assisted Selling and 2) Customer Highlight – nope. still can’t talk about the customer.
We hope you can make it to NRF and share in the fun! If not, stay tuned. We will be talking more about it next week. In addition, we will be releasing Self Provisioning for XOMNI and a new Developer Portal which together will make everything demonstrated at NRF available to the masses.
Exciting times for XOMNI, our Channel Partners and Retail as a whole!