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!”
Last week we officially launched XOMNI Cloud v3 and the response has been amazing! We wanted to share a few helpful links so you can get to know what this new release has to offer, starting with a Whitepaper authored by Microsoft.
Super Search: Hyper performant search is key for any quality product catalog based in-venue and mobile experience. Of course, scalable search is just as important when dealing with Tier 1 retailers and their VERY deep product catalogs. XOMNI is ready for the largest of large catalogs out there today.
Simple Experiences: A common misconception about Omnichannel is that it’s complicated. From Omnichannel implementation to the experiences themselves, they are user centric, integrated, immersive and by connection complicated. Not true. 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! It’s true, endless aisle, associate experiences and what we call epicenter experiences can benefit by rich functionality. XOMNI powers many such experiences. However, we encourage the use of what we call Micro Experiences to engage customers in a meaningful but simplistic way. We are excited to announce new mechanisms as part of XOMNI Cloud v3 to attract customers and measure success.
Expert Support: You don’t need to figure out the Micro and Immersive mix of experiences all by yourself! For this, we encourage engaging our Channel Partner ecosystem to selectively use XOMNI features that accomplish specific goals.
We can’t wait to see how our customers and channel partners leverage the new functionalities shipped in v3. If you haven’t already, please follow xomni_cloud on twitter to share your success and keep up with the latest in Omnichannel innovation.
The Future of Retail Experience
Highly templatized one-size-fits-all solutions are not the future of retail. Come see Vectorform present a Cloud + Creative model to building Retail Experiences. These seamless omnichannel experiences are not just visually appealing and engaging. XOMNI powered experiences are backed by the Cloud offering extreme scale that’s easy to deploy and manage.
Vectorform will be showing off a new universal application they developed which will help those wishing to build rich XOMNI powered experiences get a head start.
Limited space is available. If you are in the Boston area don’t miss it! Sign up here.
Speak Magazine just launched the digital edition of their summer 2014 release. We enjoyed this edition immensely for two reasons. First, we saw some very compelling arguments for enhancing the in-store retail experience and providing an enhanced guest experience for hospitality. Very important topics for the foreseeable future. Second, XOMNI happened to be mentioned several times in these articles! Have a look, you will enjoy them!
Feature: In-Store innovation
What is Associate Scalability in the Retail and Hospitality environment?
In a recent interview I was asked what the primary value proposition of OmniPlay is. (A new XOMNI feature in which an associate can share a product, wishlist or entire session from their device with an in-store kiosk, interactive digital sign or even customer mobile device) My response: “OmniPlay will significantly help store associates scale.” How?
Over the last several years we’ve seen investments shift from in-store and offline to online and then taken further with mobile. It’s been awhile since the store experience has received any significant investment. It’s about time for an investment and we are starting to see the associate device emerge. These devices along with quality applications will help Associates with product awareness and education. In effect, this alone can help with new Associate Scalability. However, by adding integration points with other systems and devices the associate device can enable powerful scenarios that scale the associate.
Consider the out-of-box functionality of OmniPlay. The associate can initiate an Assisted Selling experience by helping a customer find a product, accessory or service. Barcode, QR, RFID, object recognition or traditional browse and search are potential starting points enabled by the Associate device. Next, find related, suggested and comparison functionality can further refine product selection. Finally, via OmniPlay the associate can transfer the product, wishlist or entire session to another device so the customer can self-service or work with another associate or specialist to finalize the purchase decision. This enables the original associate to help another customer or perform operational duties. (i.e. Associate Scalability)
Now consider integrating additional technologies and services such as Loyalty, real-time communication (chat), beacon, mapping and wayfinding, etc into the experiences. I’m sure you can see compelling scenarios that not only enable Associate Scalability individually but within the entire store or entire Brand via dedicated support centers.
In the past, such experiences mentioned above would be a challenge. Today, the XOMNI Platform serves as an integration hub for all mentioned services. These services are exposed in a consistent and scalable way thus serving as an application development accelerator and data delivery mechanism with advanced Assisted Selling and Self Service Scenarios in mind.
What’s your in-store vision? Let us help you achieve it with our powerful platform and rich partner ecosystem.
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.
Making assisted selling and the retail white glove experience easy with Omnichannel.
BTW – What is the difference between Multichannel and Omnichannel? Multi-Channel vs Omni-Channel: Multi-Channel is simply the acknowledgement that there are multiple channels and multiple ways to reach your customer. However, the use of the channel is often isolated from other channels. Omni-channel is an evolution in that it demands a cohesive and orchestrated use of available channels per customer conversation.