5 Minutes With Alexander Haydari, Business Development, Elo Touch

Touchscreen global leaders Elo have installed over 20 million of its screens across more than 80 countries, so you can expect them to know a thing or two about the future of retail. The Retail Gazette took five minutes with Elo’s business development manager Alexander Haydari.

How does Elo Touch fit into the retail market? Which problems do you look to solve for retailers?

The retail market is evolving, many brands and retailers are looking to engage their customers in new and dynamic ways. The introduction of smartphones and tablets over a decade ago have propelled touch technology as the primary way to engage customers by enhancing their shopping experience.

Elo invented the touchscreen over 40 years ago and haven’t stopped since. With our broad range of touchscreens ranging from 10” to 70” and we have a solution for everyone. Our customers appreciate our commitment to quality, reliability and innovation making Elo the preferred choice by many retailers. Our philosophy of easy to install, easy to use and easy to support simplifies many retailers’ requirements in the evolution of the brick and mortar stores.

The industry is currently undergoing a huge transformative process – what do you think are the most challenging aspects of retail in 2018?

Retail continues to evolve at a fast pace with an end goal of creating a unified commerce experience for customers. The most challenging aspect is to bring together the physical and online shopping experience into a dynamic and customer-centric one. Retailers’ product catalogues are growing exponentially every year; therefore, space becomes a huge factor in their equation to compete with one another.

To offer the best products and services to the customer, Elo has played a vital role in bridging the gap between the in-store and online experience. With many popular solutions such as click and collect, interactive digital signage and way-finding, just to name a few, becoming the cornerstone of the unified commerce experience. Touch is the enabling technology that continues to provide customers with a gateway to the new and astounding shopping experiences.

What do you think retail stores will look like in five years time? And what about in 10 years?

This is a hard question to answer. The market trends are showing the customer continues to buy in-store. It has repeatedly been said that online shopping will overtake the traditional in-store shopping experience.

However, this is not the case. Stores are evolving in becoming more showroom and brand education centres.  We the customer, still go to stores to experience the products we want to buy in person. In the next five to 10 years I predict a Minority Report-type shopping experience.

As we choose to share more information about ourselves to retailers and brands, our shopping experience will be more personal. We will all have our very own personal shopping assistant, helping us save time, find the products and services we are looking for without the haggle of not finding what we are looking for or buying the wrong things.

Which trends do you see taking over in the next few years?

I see more in-store ecommerce solutions being offered to the customer to skip the queue and having products delivered to us regardless of where we live and work. Time-saving will allow us all to focus on the essential things in our lives. Touchscreens will be the enabling technology as a way for the customer to interact with the product and brands, instore and wherever.

And which do you think were a flash in the pan? What did we learn from those?

Augmented reality is a technology that has been introduced and talked about heavily in retail. However, these solutions so far have not delivered on the promise that customers can quickly engage with products or services.

Primarily this is because the learning curve for this technology is still very high. What we’ve learned so far is that for a technology or a solution to catch on, it must be easy and intuitive to use. Gimmicks are a great way to show the potential of something or spark interest, but if it takes me longer to learn to do something new than to repeat what I have been doing for awhile, then it is not worth it.

What Elo has learned is the importance of working with our partners in creating solutions that bring together great hardware and software. We all carry a touch-enabled device in our pockets; therefore touch is the technology that we the consumer are accustomed to use and understand very quickly.

How do you see the role of the retailer changing over the next few years? 

Retailers will be evolving into a more a showroom experience. Our personal devices will continue to play a crucial role in enabling us to make purchases or even to find products in-store.

However, we as the consumer will still require the expert advice and opinion of store associates. No matter how we look at it, we still prefer to speak to a person than a robot.

Therefore, enabling staff in becoming better experts with the help of technology will be the key to identifying successful retailer solutions. Automation will allow brands and stores to assist us better, to find the proverbial ‘what we are looking for’ and this will depend on how much information we the consumer are willing to share. Elo has already enabled many retailers to bring together a successful mix between self-serve and knowledgeable store associates with the help of our broad range of touchscreen solutions.

Which was the last store you walked into where you were really impressed by the experience?

A brand that is probably not known by many would be one located here in the heart of London, in Soho. The store is Axel Arigato – they are a Swedish shoe retailer that has brought together technology into their store in an exciting way.

Instead of being your traditional footwear retailer with pyramids and pyramids of shoes. The brand has alternatively incorporated a touchscreen into their store that enables customers always to find what they are looking for even if the product is not available at that specific location.

This beautiful, yet simple mix of the store’s design and technology has allowed visitors to be part of the brand and find the right style and size, with deliveries shipped globally. The experience was like entering the iconic Louvre museum, but for shoes.

And do you have any pet peeves or things you can see retailers doing that you wish would change?

Many retailers are impressed and excited with the way new and different solutions can be introduced into their stores. However, I have noticed that some retailers continue to use consumer electronics expecting them to survive the use and abuse of their high traffic stores.

I have stated to some clients that if they care about their brand image and their customer experiences, they need to step away from the world of consumer electronics and start using the right robust solutions that are designed to last and support their future stores’ vision. Just because a tablet, mobile device or screen is great for your personal use, don’t expect the same performance and security in your stores. We at Elo believe that the there is a right solution for everyone and making the right choices will lead to increased opportunities and customer engagement.

What’s in the pipeline for Elo that you can tell us about?

I wish I could share every little detail and of what we at Elo have in our product pipeline but that would defeat the purpose of surprising the industry year after year. What I can say is we have recently launched some fantastic solutions and invite everyone to check us out online at elotouch.com to learn more about our new offerings like PayPoint Plus, Elo Backpack, I-Series 2.0 just to name a few. Of course, we are showcasing these and other solutions at RBTE in London to show the industry just some of the possibilities.

And what do you expect to see happening at RBTE this year?

I plan to see more touch than ever before, but what I am looking forward to seeing is the new and innovative solutions that retailers can already implement into their future store designs. More interactivity, more unified commerce experiences and more customer engagement. All this will allow retailers and brands to have a conversation with their customers directly.

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