Chatbots are growing increasingly common online, but a pair of companies have teamed up to take that experience to digital displays at retail shelves.
A Lyon, France start-up called Botescope has worked with the Raspberry Pi-centric CMS firm Screenly to develop a solution that pairs and controls screens with mobile devices through conversational “smart agents.” The proposition is that end-users, such as retailers and brands, can create engaging, high-performing customer interactions right in the shops where buyers make purchasing decisions.
Botescope is specifically in the business of building chatbots, and says its has “created a pioneering, subscription based, chatbot system designed specifically to work with digital signage software solutions, ready to roll out in minutes.”
In a joint press piece, the two companies outline how their solution might play out for a retail brand, like a denim company’s store:
There are 15 individual pairs of jeans laid neatly on their own rustic wooden display stands. Each pair is available in several styles, cuts, colors and sizes.
Above each stand is a 50” digital signage display running Screenly playlists with professional, sleek, images and videos of these jeans and the brand.
One of the displays happens to grab your attention as it displays content offering a promotional coupon for the pair of jeans over which it sits. A QR code is displayed on screen and the surrounding image is advising to scan the QR code to interact with a “smart agent.” When you scan the QR code using your mobile device, the “smart agent” will prompt you with a series of questions about the brand.
Should you answer the questions correctly, you will receive a promotional coupon to use in store or at another store location at a later date.
Once the link between the user and the bot has been made, the user can engage even further. For instance, the user could:
- Display videos and images from an inventory on the large screens.
- Find stock level for a particular model.
- If a particular model/size is out of stock in the given store, a map to the closest store with the item in stock can be displayed.
Best of all, the user is not required to install an app. All is done using web technologies, which significantly reduces friction for adoption.
Following receipt of the coupon / voucher, or even mid conversation, you can now use voice or text to instruct the multilingual Smart Agent to display new content on screen; swipe through images of Jean styles, Display Maps to alternative stores, and the potential to display and control other media on screen, all the while aspects of the conversation and interactions can assist the customer in building better marketplace intelligence.
London, UK-based Screenly says the solution can run on simple, low-cost Raspberry Pi micro PCs. The company’s solution powers over 10,000 screens around the globe.
This is one of those things I think I’d need to see and use before I’d pass any hard opinion on. I’m OK with chatbots if they make what I need to get done faster, better or easier. I’m not sure that applies to answering quizzes to get coupons, but I’m in my cranky “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” years, so maybe I’m not the target audience or market.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.