Technology company ameria (www.ameria.de) has developed a digital shop window (“Virtual Promoter”) that interacts with customers and is controlled through gestures
A shopper walks past a shop window – when suddenly a life-sized young woman, young man, or an animated figure knocks on the glass from the inside. The “Virtual Promoter” by ameria allows interested customers to navigate through an interactive menu using gesture controls. A screen on which it is possible to display an interactive, life-sized avatar is attached to the inside of the shop window. The necessary software recognizes whether there are potential customers in the immediate surroundings. In addition, contents are projected directly onto the shop window, sounds can be heard in front of the store, and customers can choose the content that really interests them through gesture control. Customers can immediately buy the displayed products in the store or via their smartphone if the store is closed
Stationary retail remains strong but must assert itself in light of e-commerce
Three years ago, ameria founder Albrecht Metter, whose Heidelberg-based business has 54 employees and offers IT solutions for individual software development and product development, came up with the virtual promotion idea. According to Metter: “The world is growing closer together but stationary retail, which I strongly associate with a vibrant town, is primarily still an offline business.” The IT expert is interested in finding out in what way retail can assert itself in light of e-commerce. “I am a fan of the classic shopping trip and love not having to buy everything online but instead having the possibility of an in-store consultation and being able to actually touch the products. Shop windows are the faces of brick-and-mortar stores. But retailers need awareness to achieve frequency”, Albrecht Metter adds. Show windows play an important role in customer acquisition
The “Virtual Promoter” provides an innovative solution for the come-back of offline trade and creates a trend for visual merchandising: online and offline will grow more closely together. Albrecht Metter explains: “Classic shop windows still play an important role in customer acquisition. However, customers have become more sophisticated and expect more interaction in the age of digitalization.” Holographic presentation of digital contents in the vicinity of the store creates a point of contact between customers and retailers right outside the shop window. A further feature of this globally unique shop window promotion is that it creates a feeling of direct person-to-person communication with the help of life-sized avatars. This interaction, which is made possible through gesture control, sends messages in two directions. According to Metter, “from the retailers’ perspective, the promoter increases visitor frequency; customers benefit from multimedia presentations of product information as well as the possibility to buy products after the store has closed.” As early as during the very first test, a retailer was able to generate revenue growth of 11%.
Market entry and internationalization measures to be achieved with crowdfunding campaign
The broad market entry and the internationalization measures are to be achieved with an equity-based crowdfunding campaign on Companisto, the German market leader in crowdfunding. The promoter was successfully tested in 2015; large businesses were among the test group. Interested parties will have the opportunity to invest venture capital in an IT start-up that generated revenues of EUR 2.2 million in 2015 (fiscal year) and has developed a global solution for offline retailers. Retailers can inform about and convince customers of their products and services directly outside their stores with the help of the Virtual Promoter. Albrecht Metter also wants to win over crowd investors with the financing round that starts today.