UK health and beauty retailer Boots has worked with Apple and IBM to develop a Sales Assist app that gives employees better information in order to help customers.
"By developing Sales Assist, in collaboration with IBM and Apple, and launching it on the 3,700 iPads in our stores, we're integrating our digital and in-store presence to deliver an even better shopping environment for customers," said Robin Phillips, director of omni-channel and development at Boots UK.
"The unique tool allows our colleagues to quickly show product information, ratings and reviews, look up inventory online and make recommendations based on online analytics, all from the shop floor.
"It will help even our smallest stores feel like a flagship shop, with access to the entire Boots range at their fingertips."
Boots uses IBM's Bluemix cloud platform to link Sales Assist with the company's applications and data. This enables employees to tap into the product databases on boots.com, which uses analytics to suggest personal recommendations for customers, such as additional items that may interest them or alternative items if what they're looking for isn't in stock.
Employees can also use the app to locate an item in another Boots store nearby, or the customer can order the product online and collect it at any store the next day.
Vickie Ward (pictured above), a Boots customer assistant who was one of the team invited to help design and develop the app at Apple's headquarters in California, explained that the most important element of the app is the ‘information' button.
"Previously, if a customer asked me for more product information, I had to rely on what was printed on the box, which was limited in detail. It also meant that I'd have to be physically holding the product, making it difficult to help a customer in the electronics section, for example, to purchase the new shampoo they just remembered they needed," she said.
"I explained this to the design team and together we came up with the information button. Now I can provide customers with any product details from anywhere in the store or on boots.com."
Ward said that she was "amazed" at how the initial design conversation with Apple influenced the entire layout and flow of the app, and the way assistants engage with customers every day.
"Having mobile access to the product search and information button makes me an expert on the thousands of products available at Boots, which is incredibly important given that 90 per cent of consumers leave stores without making a purchase if they can't find the help they need," she said.
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