AO prides itself on being customer-focussed, progressive and challenging the norm. The company wanted to create a pilot of five physical stores (Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Stevenage, Gatwick, London) that would complement its online offering and introduce the brand to those who wouldn’t normally buy white goods online.
The stores needed to create a good first impression and support the positive & friendly nature of the AO brand. It was important that they not look or feel vastly dissimilar to AO’s online shopping experience. They also needed to showcase AO’s full offering without the stores feeling overloaded or cramped.
AO knew what the store concept and layout should be, that they wanted to use digital signage to bring it to life and bridge the gap between the online and offline AO shopping experience, but not how they should do it.
We considered the customer’s buying experience, how the offline store could enhance it, how it could be personalised, and developed a number of ideas for digital touchpoints within the store that evolved other tried-and-tested technical applications.
We identified that when shopping for a TV it is important to be able to compare the different models’ sound and picture quality directly, and that some features would be more important than others, depending on what people liked to watch.
We created an application that enables up to 21 different TV screens and sound bars to be synchronised together and used like a TV wall, or to be operated individually. AO staff can use a standard tablet device to switch between using the TV display as an exciting centrepiece to brand the store, or showcasing the picture and sound of individual TVs and soundbars.
To give shoppers a more personalised experience, we coupled this with a suite of AO-branded content that they could pick from to see how well each model would perform when showing the sort of content they liked to watch – i.e. films, cartoons, football games, and video games – and to experience the benefits of viewing it with a sound bar.
We looked at how to make it more fun to shop for smaller electrical items like coffee machines and originally recommended a ‘lift and learn’ solution to show customers relevant product information on a screen when they picked up an item. However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, we knew it had to be a contactless solution and developed ‘wave and learn’ instead, which uses customers’ hand movements to learn about a product. Shoppers navigate and select the product information they want to read by waving in the direction of a specific colour-coded motion sensor, thereby avoiding the potential for coronavirus contamination.
To make the digital signage work harder and create a unique shopping experience, we used motion sensors throughout the store to change the content shown on screens, depending on the customers’ proximity to them. When customers are furthest from the screen, they are shown attention-grabbing branded messages to introduce the AO brand (“Come and say hello!”), showcase attractive offers, and display opening times. Mid-distance shoppers are shown offers related to the section of the store they are standing in. When customers stand directly in front of a screen, the content changes to ask what type of electrical goods they are interested in, then (using touchscreen) walks them through the buying considerations and shows them suitable products based on their requirements.
“Saturn’s installation team have impressed everyone at AO with their attention to detail and determination to make sure everything is done properly and that deadlines were stuck to.Daniel Kilday, Head Of Brand Delivery, AO.com
The AO stores experienced a disproportionate surge in sound bar sales, which have traditionally been hard to sell due to shoppers not appreciating the value of them.
Screens at the store’s exit, which invite shoppers for feedback (a recommendation from Saturn), found that 90% of customers loved the AO in-store shopping experience.
Daniel Kilday, Head Of Brand Delivery, AO.com commented:
“We wanted a digital signage company that we could partner with. One that, like us, wanted to challenge the norm, could bring lots of experience and exciting ideas to the table and would be great to work with. Saturn has managed to exceed all of our expectations.
“What’s great about Saturn is that you can trust their advice and costings. They don’t hide costs, underestimate the time they need, or recommend cheaper hardware to artificially make their tenders look more attractive. They focus on delivering the best long-term value for money that they can, and on sticking to their promises.
“Saturn’s consultancy team was able to get under the skin of our business, understand our customers’ perspective, and work out what we wanted before we even knew it ourselves.
“We’ve been amazed at how good Saturn is at stretching what technology can do. The team focusses on what the ideal customer experience should be, then they look at what is available technology-wise and adapt and evolve it as appropriate.”
“Our stores look absolutely amazing. Our interactive TV wall is a huge differentiator between AO and every other electrical goods retailer. Our customers love that they can pick and choose which content and screens they want to watch and get a real sense of the quality and value of each one. We love that our customers can use it to get the product that’s 100% right for them.
“Because all the signage is digital and Saturn is so responsive, we can be really agile with our stores. We can choose to have a promotion on a Monday, and by Tuesday it can be live in stores, which obviously wouldn’t be possible with standard POS.
“We’ve been very impressed with how the Saturn team has managed to keep everything on track and find workarounds when problems have arisen – an especially impressive achievement considering the volume and scale of obstacles that the Covid-19 lockdowns have put in their way.
“Our account manager has guided us through the process from start to finish, anticipating any potential problems and putting measures in place to circumnavigate them to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible.
“The content Saturn has produced has made it very easy for our staff and customers to browse and/or find exactly what they need with the minimum of fuss. Furthermore, they’ve also made it fun to find that information, which makes our stores really stand out from our rivals’.”
The project was also recognised by the AV News Awards, with Saturn receiving the accolade of ‘digital signage innovation of the year’.
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