Symbiosis between brick-and-mortar stores and e-shops – is this the path retail businesses will take in the future? Is it how they will meet customers’ needs and provide them with the required level of service? This is exactly what one of the largest Czech e-shops, Alza.cz, is investigating in Hungary. Hard data to confirm or rebut various assumptions will be gathered thanks to the IoT solution implemented by Adastra, in cooperation with Microsoft, in the so-called Experience Zone (the Microsoft and HP stand) in the Alza.cz showroom in Budapest.
Solution to a problem
The largest Czech e-shop, Alza.cz, has made progress in its expansion to the Hungarian market. Previously, Alza.cz only had a distribution center in Hungary, but it has now opened its first local showroom. In size, this is comparable to the company’s headquarters in Prague’s Holesovice (approximately 5000 m2), and products from global brands are on display. The showroom boasts state-of-the-art technologies, such as IoT (the Internet of Things), that help the store deliver hard data for managerial decisions.
“We’re predominantly an e-shop, so we’re used to seeing every aspect of customer behavior in the system. We just have to say what we’re interested in, and the data is available. In retail, however, we began quite blind in this regard, and so we’re looking for ways to get back to a greater level of awareness. This is the only way you can offer customers services and products that reflect their expectations,” says Jan Moudřík, director of expansion at Alza.cz.
Description of the solution
Visitors to the showroom encounter the IoT solution in the so-called Experience Zone, which exhibits products from Microsoft and HP. Here, customers are presented with displays showing personalized ads from both companies. These are interactive screens that recognize the customer’s age and gender and offer him or her appropriate advertisements, from computer games for children or laptops for students to printers for holiday photographs. Visitors are identified using Azure cognitive services.
This HP ad was loaded based on the customer’s age and gender.
What remains hidden to customers are the statistical calculations. Additional IoT programs track the number of visitors, how long they stay in the Experience Zone and in which precise locations, so, for example, whether they are more interested in products from HP or from Microsoft. A pair of 3D cameras connected to a so-called multisensor counts how many times people cross virtual lines and measures the time visitors spend in the zone. They distinguish between time spent at HP’s exhibits and at Microsoft’s. The cameras also monitor how people move around the space. The output reveals the most common trajectories and heatmaps that identify where customers usually stay.
The heatmap shows the number of people in the Experience Zone (the red area is the most visited; blue is the least).
Statistical measurements remains hidden to customers. Other IoT programs detect the number of visitors, how long they stay in Experience Zone and where. For example, whether they are more interested in HP or Microsoft.
personal information about visitors is stored.
Data from the individual sensors is stored in a Microsoft Azure cloud database. Reports are generated from this data using Microsoft Power BI, which displays aggregate data about turnout at the Experience Zone.
is accuracy with which the system identifies gender
Thanks to IoT technologies, the showroom’s leaders have a clear idea of their customers’ behavior. Alza managers in Hungary then decide their next business steps on the basis of this information. In-depth knowledge about visitors to the showroom is conducive to helping those visitors become customers, whether on the spot or online at Alza.cz.
The company has tested similar technologies in its “shops of the future” and in AlzaBoxes for several months already. Now they have begun testing them in showrooms for the first time. The data gathered this way are very interesting.
people visited the showroom between 26th November and 10th December.
We already know we’ll also want to install these devices in showrooms in Prague and Bratislava because the data shows us a lower percentage of female visitors than male. We need to check whether this is due to a difference in the market, or whether it’s data we’ve gained only from published documents that distort the truth, while reality is different.
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