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Episode 18
December 5, 2016

Online Experiences IRL

Brian talks retail innovation with Dean Flynn of Foyer Live. What does the future of the relationship between online and in-store experiences look like?

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Future of Relationship

  • Dean talks about the lack of congruence between online and in-store shopping and why that led him to make significant changes there
  • How Foyer Live is creating solutions to blend the digital and physical worlds into a seamless experience that meets customers’ needs in unique ways
  • “You don’t have to start big. You can implement something simple and take on that test and learn the philosophy that we've had online for such a long time with implementing the technology in-store.” - Dean
  • What do the future of AR and VR look like in the in-store experience and in eCommerce?
  • “If the technology is not solving a problem, it's potentially getting in the way. And therefore you've got a problem because you've just created another impediment to a customer achieving what they want.” - Dean

Learn more about Dean Flynn and Foyer Live at or @FoyerLive on Twitter.

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Brian: [00:00:22] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Brian, and I'm without my co-host today. Phillip had a last minute emergency and he's not going to be able on the show. But I do have Dean Flynn, CEO of Foyer Live. I'm very excited to have Dean on. I've known Dean for a couple of years and had a chance to talk with him about what Foyer Live has to offer kind of even earlier on. And it's pretty exciting. So very excited to have him on the show. Dean. Go ahead, introduce yourself and give us a little bit of your history.

Dean: [00:01:02] Cool, thank you, Brian. It's great to be on the show today, and I've been in the retail online industry for the last 16 years, working with retailers on the eCommerce and digital marketing. And a major frustration of mine during this time was that the store was a black hole. And we knew that 8 out of 10 shoppers were going into a going online before they went into a store to purchase. And 90 percent of sales are still happening in the physical store. But there's a lack of visibility into what we were doing online and the impact that was having in store. And then when we went into stores, it's a walk back in time. There's no intelligence and the customer expectations have shifted due to all the great work that we'd be doing online. And then we were lucky through my other company, IE Digital, an agency in Australia, which is a Magento SI and works with a number of different platforms. We're working closely with clients like Nike to build experiential retail experiences for them and really start to bring contextual relevancy to the physical retail environment. And that was where we started to play around with how can we create and bring the intelligence which we've learned from working online and starting to make experiences there mimic more of the real world. We'd actually overtaken what the real world expectations were. Customers have got access to information at their fingertips all of the time, and we wanted to start to bring some of that into the physical store. So we productized what we'd built and the intelligence that we'd gained in building these initial experiences out as an agency and we spun that out as a new company called Foyer Live. Foyer Live is a retail experience platform that helps retailers to start to digitize the physical store and bring that digital interaction and commerce capabilities into their stores. It makes it easy for customers to find and purchase products in-store, connects the online and in-store experience, and delivers a single view of the customer for our retailers.

Brian: [00:03:07] Nice. That's amazing. Definitely something that's needed. We've talked about this on the show before. It seems like this almost should already be here in many ways. And thanks to Foyer Live, it is. So maybe you could describe your offerings in a little more detail. What does this actually mean for a customer who walks into a store? What is that experience like for them? And then on the back end for a merchant, what do they get out of that?

Dean: [00:03:39] Yeah, for sure, I think. We've really started with the platform around the core capabilities of what's required in store. We're pretty practical people from our eCommerce experience and working closely with retailers, understanding the key issues that they had in the store, which are really driven by those customers. And so we've started with a couple of key products around intelligent digital signage and digital shopping assistant. So the intelligent digital signage takes in weather and sales data to ensure the right content is put in front of customers at all times. Plus, we're working on some pretty cool features at the moment, which will bring demographic data into this by using some camera recognition of customers in the store and then being able to change the content based on those customers to deliver intelligent marketing to them. And this is just sort of the first couple of steps that we're taking around that intelligence within the store. And then the digital shopping assistant is really the cool solution for delivering intelligent customer service. So with customer and staff facing interfaces it allows customers to walk up to a touch screen, to be able to browse through product data, search, scan bar codes or RFID and with motion recognition as well, we can drive content on that device to allow customers to explore the products that they're interested in and be able to access stock which isn't in the store. So get more information around the full product inventories, products which are maybe only available online and be able to get that information, make an informed purchase decision, read peer reviews and then make a purchase as well within the store for products which are available in-store and online. So we're really starting to combine those two experiences and create the best of both worlds within the physical store.

Brian: [00:05:34] Oh, nice, yeah. So can customers actually make a purchase via a display and then actually go pick up that clothing and walk out the door? Or how does that work? Or do you still to go check out at a standard check out?

Dean: [00:05:53] A bit of both. So it really depends on the implementation. We can do payment on device, we can do mobile payment, and we can also integrate into a point of sale. So different retailers that we're working with have integrated using all three of those methods that we have. So the mobile payment would be more of a standalone solution. If a customer is browsing unassisted, and they find some products that they're interested in and they want those products to be home delivered, they can enter in their cell phone number, receive a text message, click on the link, and complete the purchase on their phone.

Brian: [00:06:27] Nice. That's awesome.

Dean: [00:06:29] For the payment on device. Obviously, much as it sounds, we've got the capability for customers to complete their purchase there and then on the device. One of the downsides of that is obviously customers having to enter any personal details onto that touchscreen is something that we try and avoid. So that's typically used for more services or products that customer is going to take with them as they leave there rather than those that need to be delivered unless their loyalty customer. And we've got that access to their information through a swipe of a loyalty card or something like that to make it easy for the customer. And then we integrate into both eCommerce order management systems and point of sale to allow orders to be piped through to those systems for the customer to complete their payment then. So if they were purchasing products that they were going to take with them that day, as you mentioned, as well as some products which are coming from online or they'll purchasing all products that were available in-store, they could go to the point of sale, complete that purchase. They can complete that with a customer associate who has a mobile paws on their device as well. So we've got really many different options as far as how that transaction can take place. And that's really looking at how to best service the customer within that type of retail store and the types of customers which are there.

Brian: [00:07:45] Nice. Nice. that's awesome. You mentioned one thing earlier that I want to come back to, which is that using cameras. Your tech can actually pick up on some facial recognition or something to that effect and customize content as a result. Can you explain a little bit more about that? What does that actually mean for a customer when they walk in? And also, we've been talking quite a bit about security. We've got a lot of amazing technology right now that could do a lot of powerful things for us. But a lot of consumers are still nervous about, say, a camera picking up their face and then presenting different options based off of that scan. And so adoption, you know, in getting permission and things like that can be a challenge. So, yeah, if you could talk a little bit more about that part of your technology, that would be amazing.

Dean: [00:08:44] Yeah, for sure. I think you're absolutely right. You don't want to be freaking people out or being too prescriptive in what you are pushing to customers based on that data. So it's actually using one of our partners. So a large part of our platform is not about us developing every feature. It's more around how do we best integrate into those existing systems to bring the data from them in. And so some of those in-store tracking tools which are out there, we're integrating into to use the existing data around understanding not who somebody is in particular, but more male, female, and therefore being able to change ads to be more relevant to that customer. So trying to avoid the the freak out factor of something which is way too specific to that person, but more around making sure that there's contextually relevant advertising happening. So much like customers are frustrated with online ads which are irrelevant to them and keep popping up in their face in the advent of ad blockers everywhere. It's really around how do we ensure that there's contextually relevant information? So rather than pushing the 20 percent off men's pants to a woman when she walks in, giving her access to information on offers which are relevant to her as a female.

Brian: [00:10:10] Nice. That's amazing. So it's sort of like broader, broader pieces of information that any store associate could recognize, but it's without having to sort of manually go in and type anything in. I like that a lot. Do you see that technology... Do you see some sort of thing opt-in happening around more facial recognition? Or have you worked out anything? Or actually let me ask you a more specific question. Do you have anything interesting that you want to announce or groundbreaking that you want to announce? New product, new feature, anything on the horizon that you want to talk about for Foyer?

Dean: [00:10:53] The implementation of our core connected customer technology is really the key feature, which is getting a lot of traction at the moment. So from the capabilities to really impact so many different types of retailers, we're currently working with everyone from apparel to footwear to supermarkets and jewelry and everything in between to help them to implement solutions within their stores that make sense for their customers. But it's really using our core underlying blueprint, which is how do we get that content into the hands of the customers where it's contextually relevant for them to be able to buy the products that they're interested in? And how do we integrate that into those existing systems to make that as simple as possible for the retailer to implement? So really, we just keep rolling out better features around it, to be easier to implement our system within those existing retail systems and also around the intelligent signage with the weather and sales control. As I mentioned, the demographic data coming in is a new one for the new year and also some custom products building interfaces, which we're creating at the moment. And then there's some cool stuff that we're looking at as far as product picking interfaces for customer associates. So with a retail associate device, they're able to receive messages from the customers on the floor, from the touch screens, if they're interested in looking at a particular pair of shoes or receiving a different product to the change room or receiving assistance within the particular area of the store that they're in. Then we've got that immediate connection between the customer using the interface and the associates device and the associates not just receiving a request to say, "Hey, somebody, I need your help." That is like, "Hey, somebody needs your help and they're looking for this particular product." So we're really cutting down on the time it takes for the customer to get satisfied with the product that they want and the inefficiency of a retail associate having to walk back and forth and really just become a bit of a gofer within the store of retrieving products that a customer wants when really they could be adding so much more value if they had more face time with that customer.

Brian: [00:13:14] And ultimately it's increasing customer satisfaction and in hopefully conversion, which might be something that is a little easier to track in store.

Dean: [00:13:25] Yeah, absolutely. I think it's the key is really around that. And that's been a big focus for us is how do we make a product which is around commerce? We're here to make a difference in-store, and it's great to have amazing experiences and those sorts of things within the store. But if it doesn't assist in making a sale, it's actually not serving the customer and the retailer. The customer goes into the store generally to purchase a product and the retailer is there to sell a product to that customer. And therefore, we need to make sure that the solutions that we implement make that as simple and as efficient as possible for customers. And that's what we're really all about.

Brian: [00:14:08] Well, it's great to hear about what you guys are doing. I'm really excited about it. I think in-store is in very much a need of a refresh and really, like you said, it needs to come up to the level of technology that we have, the way that we've been using online. And really it's been available, it's just no one's really done a very good job implementing it. Actually, that's a really good question. I think it's interesting. Still when I go to the mall, it's still very similar. Like even now when I go to the mall, as it was when when I went when I was a kid. There are a few things that are different, but in many ways it's really similar. How you've been feeling about adoption? What have you guys seen around adoption of in-store tools and do you feel like customers are really experiencing it, the benefits, or is it mostly the merchants that are really getting the benefit out of it?

Dean: [00:15:09] I think it's still really early days. Like you say, there's not a marked difference when you walk into any store really yet, as far as in-store technology is concerned, I mean, mobile paws and some enhancements there have started to creep in. But on the whole, the experience is really much the same. And I think with 58 percent of customers are not able to find information on products that they want to buy and store. And 75 percent of them unable to buy the product that they want in store. There's still a huge way for us to go as far as using intelligence in stores. And I think there's a lot of custom solutions being implemented by larger retailers who are building themselves. We're seeing a lot of, I guess, fixed hardware solutions coming in as well, which have a pretty prescribed way in which they're going to sell certain product. And the biggest challenges, I guess, I see with those is that they're capable of solving a specific problem for a specific type of retailer, but they're not giving a lot of flexibility in the implementation. And that's where I see there being a major hold up in people implementing them is that the cost is high. They're very prescribed in the way that they have to be implemented. And therefore we're looking at things in a I guess, a broader mindset coming from that eCommerce background of putting a platform in the hands of the retailers that allows them to implement solutions that match their brand, that they can modify to implement specific features that make sense to them and their customers, rather than having to have the one size fits all model. I think it's... I think it's just a really a long way to go. But we are seeing it start to creep in. The retailers that we're working with are seeing great results from having these solutions in store. And I guess the great thing is you don't have to start big. You can implement something simple and take on that test and learn philosophy that we've had online for such a long time with implementing the technology in-store. But I guess the overheads of many of the solutions mean that that's been pretty unlikely for a retail store. But now we're just seeing a lot of people starting to inquire and a lot of people starting to implement solutions. So I think we're actually finally going to see those stores start to innovate and be a big focus for retailers where all of that dollars have been going to eCommerce and then mobile over the last 15 years, whereas now the big focus is in-store, and customer experience is definitely the priority number one from many of the retailers in the latest sort of surveys that come out.

Brian: [00:17:49] Yeah, absolutely. It's interesting, we first met back at Imagine, a couple of years ago. We met at a Magento's Imagine conference, which is a phenomenal conference, for listeners out there who haven't been. But, you know, I think you mentioned flexibility in actually being able to meet the needs of the brands. You know, and I think back to Magento. We both have lived in this world for a long time. And getting back to open source routes, if you will. I think it's interesting that when Magento was first released, it kind of took off like wildfire because it was so flexible. I'm thinking about your solution now, and you've made it to be something that that retailers can implement the way that they need it to be implemented in a relatively cost effective way. That's awesome. I think that brands these days need that in order to actually address and meet the true needs of their customers. And so I think it's really exciting what you're doing. No doubt. So I'd actually like to move on to a couple of topics kind of looking ahead. I know you've got quite a bit of expertise in in-store technology. There's a lot of new technology coming down the pike right now. And so I kind of want to see how you feel like in-store is going to react to some of this technology. So the first thing, you know, SNAP's Spectacles were released recently. And we've had a couple of tweets about this. And we talked with a couple of other guests about who AR and really Snapchat, whether or not you would consider it AR is sort of up for debate. I do think that's where they want to move. To more AR focused and then some. {laughter} But is it as much of a social experience still. But anyway, how do you see AR, augmented reality, changing the retail experience? What do you think is coming ahead?

Dean: [00:20:02] It was interesting. I was at a conference earlier this week where Robert Scoble was up on stage with the Microsoft HoloLens and talking about how quickly this technology is coming. And you see somebody up on stage with a pretty bulky headset on and talking about how it's going to change the world really quickly. But then on the other end of the spectrum, you see SNAP's Spectacles and they are wearable technology. And I think it's going to change and I think it's going to change quite quickly. How quickly consumer adoption comes is one thing, but I think there's a huge opportunity from a customer service perspective. And so one thing that we have been looking at is around increasing the efficiency and picking of products. So where those instances that I mentioned earlier of a customer requesting a product which needs to be picked from the back of a store, if you had a staff member with some glasses on and they were able to get the request for products, directions to where they are within the back of the store so that they can efficiently pick them and get them back out to the customer... I see it as being a huge opportunity. You know this you've got your Amazon warehouses with robots picking and packing and doing all those sorts of things. And I think we start to see where that technology capability can be given to people, allowing them to get many of those efficiencies, but still have that real personal interaction with the customers as well, which is what most of us still go into the physical store to do.

Brian: [00:21:39] Well, that's great a view on this. We've talked a ton about the consumer experience on the show, but from sort of the back end side of the store and, you know, sort of the more the things that make things go. I think that's it's absolutely a great application where you're going to save time. You're going to help people get the information they need more quickly. It could be absolutely useful. I think it maybe has a ways to go still before we get there, simply because, like, you know, battery power and rendering and so on. I think it's still got a ways to go. But great, great thoughts on that. I hadn't really considered from that angle. And we also had several episodes focused on VR. What about you? Where do you see VR headed in the in-store experience? Is it going to be used in the in-store experience? Are you going to incorporate it into your product roadmap in any way? What do you see there?

Dean: [00:22:48] VR is definitely something that I'm keeping an eye on. I've got friends who work on some really interesting technology in the space, but I see VR, at least in the short term, as being a huge opportunity for eCommerce, where it can bring products to life in your home. And obviously in-store it can do the same thing, but I just kind of feel like we go to a store for a real experience rather than a virtual real experience, if you know what I mean. So I see... I was speaking to a pure play retailer recently around the immense opportunity for them as far as VR is concerned in my perspective, as far as being able to sit in your lounge room and watch a fashion show or see the certain products and almost get that touch and feel from some of the technology that's coming out around products and things along those lines. But in the physical store, I think there's some applications. But the space that it takes up in the store and I guess once again, the bulkiness of the technology at the moment at least means that I see there being the potential for it in maybe furniture stores and other places where you want to see certain products in location or what different colors and things like that look like. But I can't really see it being implemented in apparel or a supermarket or anything along those lines.

Brian: [00:24:12] Absolutely. The one thing that I would say maybe is that right now this is going to change pretty quickly. But most of the experiences I've had with VR have been sort of environments and it still isn't quite pervasive in homes yet, aside from sort of the low VR where it's just your phone. But anyway, my point is I do see maybe some opportunity for some specific experiences within apparels and other industries beyond just furniture and and so on.

Dean: [00:24:53] I think just thinking about it with products or with services, like if you're talking about real estate or holidays or things along those lines, obviously there's a huge opportunity there to start to bring people into that environment and really help them to to experience that and sell there.

Brian: [00:25:14] Absolutely.

Dean: [00:25:15] So sorry to interrupt, but yeah, I definitely see there being opportunity.

Brian: [00:25:19] Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, ok I think it's coming. It's not there yet. It's coming.

Dean: [00:25:28] {laughter} Yeah, definitely.

Brian: [00:25:31] So another question I had was, I think your technology probably already has some of this built in, but I kind of want to see where you see this going. But location based tools, beacons, and geo fencing and a lot of other techniques for keeping track of where people are and helping give them contextual experiences. So what are you guys looking at? If you're using anything, what are you using? What do you consider best in class? And what do you see merchants leveraging in the future?

Dean: [00:26:07] I think location based tools have been around for so long, but they're really still in their infancy. And I think this is primarily due to the need for customers to have installed an app to use them. And there is a really large overhead on customers as far as using this technology. But I think with the advent of Eddystone capabilities coming to the browser, that's going to see a huge rise in customer use because it'll become easier to use. It won't be only available to retailers who have enough customers using the app that therefore the beacons warrant their use. And I mean, we see a lot of success at the moment with sports stadiums, and I think they've got that captive, engaged audience. So they've been able to drive major uplift in products and ticket sales. And I think if you look at that and then we start to take some lessons from that as far as how retailers or brands could leverage that audience. So whilst, you know, these people have a highly engaged audience within the sporting stadium, how can you as a retailer around that stadium, leverage that by advertising to those customers in those spaces? And obviously in the store I think personalization is going to be the biggest driver in the same way that AR can engage customers by allowing them to scan their phone over a product and get more details around that product. I see in the Lego store recently, where you put the box in front of the screen there and it brings the Legos to life, those sorts of things. I think beacons have the opportunity to really start to personalize that experience within the store and push contextual information to that customer based on the products that they've looked at previously and recommendations around that within the store. But I just think the technology is letting it down at the moment and really not allowing it to have its time in the sun and also the pushing of coupons and come in-store... I just think if it goes too far down that path and there's a danger that it goes down the same way of ad blocking, as I mentioned earlier, where customers just like I don't want this, I didn't ask for this, stop pushing it to me. So if it's not contextually relevant and it's not personalized, I think people are actually going to switch it off and then we're going to lose the capability to actually use that technology. And then from a geo perspective, I think there's a massive opportunity there to really start to connect the online and in-store. Obviously, we go from browsing online to traveling to a store and then going into a store directions and all those sorts of things start to really come into play as far as helping customers. And I think there there is an opportunity for maybe not specific retailers, but for sort of a maybe a bigger app like a Google or something along those lines to start to recommend many different things to a customer along the journey as far as things that they might have on a shopping list or opportunities there to really start to once again combine what's my to do list what's on my shopping list to a contextually relevant experience as I'm traveling through a physical location.

Brian: [00:29:35] Yeah, that's as amazing. It's almost like our online cookie will be connected to sort of a physical cookie, if you will.

Dean: [00:29:42] Absolutely. That is going to be where things go. I think that identity across areas and I think in one way it's a bit sort of scary in another way, you think well, if it was relevant to me, then I'm definitely interested in it.

Brian: [00:29:57] This is definitely something we've talked about a ton, which is sort of what world are we stepping into? Right? And also, you know, it's interesting. I'm not sure quite if this this episode will air before or after one of our more recent episodes. But we dove quite a bit into like AI and how I will also play a role in this. And actually that leads me to another question. And I think AI will play a part in this next discussion. But voice first thinking is, you know, it kind of it's finally starting to really, really take hold. So how do you see voice interaction changing the in-store experience? We've got all these people in the store talking at their phones. And to be honest, I have seen people in stores talking at their phones. I've done it even before. So what do you see with this? Where do you think this is going?

Dean: [00:31:08] Yeah, once again, we live in such interesting times, really, as far as where all these things are just emerging and in many ways they're happening so quickly. I think voice recognition has gone from a frustration really to something which is is quite amazing in its capabilities, and I think in-store for that reason on one side, I'm thinking it's pretty interesting. It's a noisy space. How much can it be implemented? But then on the other side, like, well, it's advancing so quickly and it's primarily thus far been in the home or in the car, which are typically quieter environments. In-store I think it's got the same opportunity to streamline that customer engagement. So where our implementations of our technology at the moment are using touch screens where customers have to browse or swipe or type in search requests and those sorts of things, there's absolutely the opportunity for a customer to say, "I'm looking for..." "Does this dress come and red?" And be able to get an immediate response back. And I think that's going to be amazing. And I think touch screens is... There's been huge advances there so quickly with AI with the capabilities. I'm so interested in this space at the moment as far as being able to push small pieces of information in such as this red dress and then get contextually relevant information back, not just from that request, but from all the similar customer requests that have been made in the computing power today that can just feed so much relevant information back from the Watsons or whatever AI engines of the world in order to give that information back to the customer. I think voice and AI are really going to play a huge part. I think AI much faster than voice. I think voice has got a little way to go to be used in the store, but I think there's definitely a huge opportunity there. And whether it be on the customer's own handset or whether it be on other devices in the store, which are virtual assistants or even with the customer associates, I think there's an opportunity there. Could even be there to flip it back on to the retail associate opportunity is to look at are they speaking into it and getting recommendations back to themselves as far as let's listen to what the customer is saying? And then that starts the feedback, advice, and those sorts of things from a training perspective. So there's a wealth of opportunity there. I think it'll be interesting to see where it goes. From our perspective AI is definitely on the roadmap. We've got a couple of things we're looking at there. Voice recognition, I think, is something we're interested in, but I'm yet to sort of think exactly where that fits in the roadmap.

Brian: [00:34:03] Sure, sure. Yeah, that makes sense. Actually, that kind of leads into another question that I have. And it's this all plays together really well. There's going to be a few parts of this question. So, you know, I think first of all. Do you think people will be interacting with a store specific, or brand specific I should say, bot or or assistant, you know, i.e. powered by Watson, something like 1-800-Flowers' Gwen or Bank of America's Erica? Or will it be more interacting with a more personalized assistant or maybe some combination thereof? And with that, will we see any sort of physical manifestations of a bot or assistance in the store, i.e. robots or something therein? Sort of the embodiment of this AI. So where do you think that's headed?

Dean: [00:35:16] Well, I think we're already seeing robots in-store. There's the Lowebot in the Lowes stores, which is around helping customers to find products in the store, so way finding device. And I think if if any store needed, it is definitely a home improvement store. Trying to find anyone to helpl you is else an impossible job.

Brian: [00:35:36] {laughter} So true.

Dean: [00:35:37] So I think it's really awesome that they've implemented it. As to how well it works, I'm not sure just yet, but I think that is really at its core, one of those things, the way that we look at technology, what's a practical problem we have in store, we're implementing a robot would make sense? And it's like, what's the biggest complaint we have in store? People can't find what they're looking for. They can't find somebody to help them. And I think that does two things. One, you've got a robot that is getting people to the product that they're looking for. But it's also freeing up those staff who were directing customers to the different products within the store to actually be providing advice to those people who need it within the store. So I think that's a really cool sort of implementation and an interesting solution to one of those major problems in that type of store.

Brian: [00:36:25] You said a word there, and to just jump in for a second and I'll let you finish. You said a word there that I absolutely love. And I think it is how a lot of this is going to be driven. And that is practical. Like, I think a lot of this adoption will be driven when someone finally recognizes, my gosh, like this could solve that problem that we've been waiting to solve. Maybe it's not this giant sort of, you know, everything all works together beautifully scenario up front.

Dean: [00:36:58] Absolutely. Absolutely. I think I mean, and that's the first thing that I ask a retailer when we're talking to them is what are the core problems you're looking to resolve within the store? What are the core problems that you have in store at the moment? And then we start to look at how we can potentially solve those problems with technology. And I think if the technology is not solving a problem, it's potentially getting in the way. And therefore you've got a problem because you've just created another impediment to a customer achieving what they want. And we saw this with a lot of the early implementations of in-store technology, and we still see it today. And I still to this question of "Why don't we just put our website on an iPad on the stand in the store? Doesn't that do the same thing?" And it's like, well, no, it doesn't. It's not contextually relevant. I didn't go into your store to use an iPad on a stand to surf your website, and I think that is really the key is that it has to be implemented in a way in which it makes sense to the customer in which it assists them in achieving their goal within the store. And so with our retailers, it really is around those practical things that can make a difference right now because, as you say, they feel connected. The singing, the dancing story, you know, it'll happen. But there's so many opportunities that we can implement right now that are going to make a big difference that we shouldn't wait for, because if you're waiting for the silver bullet, it doesn't exist, and it won't exist for a long time. But there are so many ways in which we can improve the experience right now with technology that exists right now. And it's just one of those things that I just really want to make happen, because it's one of those major frustrations I find that I'm really excited about helping people to resolve.

Brian: [00:38:37] Absolutely. Actually, here's and interesting sort of conundrum. I think that a lot of merchants and businesses out, this is not a new challenge, but perhaps it's a more compounded right now. It's very difficult to know at what point to invest in different technology. And, you know, you're worried that maybe you waited too long to adopt it and then you know it's going to get replaced soon. And so you you just wait for the next thing or, you know, kind of the opposite of that. It's like, oh, man, this is too early. I don't necessarily want to adopt this because I'm not 100 percent sure. And either way you cut it, you're looking at risk. You know, maybe you can give a few words of wisdom around when to adopt technology and how to think about where technology is in its lifecycle.

Dean: [00:39:34] Yeah, OK. I think. Like all things with technology, and I think this is coming out in the press a lot lately, is that some of the major retailers that we see suffering right now have waited too long to adapt to the new norm, which was eCommerce. And they're playing a catchup game now in order to be able to recapture that market. And I think it's not because they weren't selling through eCommerce. It was that they didn't realize that customers wanted to interact with them in a different way, even though 90 percent of sales were still happening in the physical store and still are. So technology is so much a part of our lives now. It is one of those things where if we didn't have access to information on our phones, we just kind of I mean, you can't imagine going to work in an office without having a computer on your desk that had access to the Internet. And yet we have retail associates, stores who don't have access to information. Customers walk into a physical store and they don't have access to being able to find out any information around the products, understand what stocks are available. Understand I'm sure I saw this in red online. I can't see it here in the store. Is it available? There's just so many little practical things that can be done right now. And I think that waiting is one of those things which, yes, you can wait. And, you know, budgets are always a challenge, particularly in retail. But it's one of those things where the cost don't have to be high. You can test in a few stores, implement and start to learn right now, because if you don't start to learn right now, your learning curve just gets exponentially bigger as you move forward and the risk to your business grow at the same rate, if not higher. So pick your challenges, pick those problems, make sure you're implementing technology for the right things. Don't put beacons into your store to send coupons to customers when customers don't want them. Find out what those problems are that you can actually resolve. And the stats I mentioned earlier around customers not having that access to information and not being able to buy the product they wanted when they went into a store, for me, just two glaring opportunities for retail to start to act on right now. And I think then it comes down to how do you practically implement? And what is the investment that you're willing to make into this? And part of it's going to be hours ROI from sales and part of it's going to be some intangibles around customer experience and really increasing customer satisfaction. But with the capability to measure those now with customer satisfaction tools and surveys, I think there is ROI that you can start to measure on implementing these things and you can start small and you can start to build on that. And that's what we've built our solution is to get them out of the box capabilities to people straight away and then give them the flexibility to continue to roll out additional features we have or customize or build their own apps to deploy in our framework because of the strong believer in starting small and testing and having that flexibility and creativity to to do what's right for your customers and your brand. And overheads aren't that high. It's just like anything the technology keeps coming down in costs. We could do it quite smartly if you implement it in the right places in-store, I think to really see some big benefits happen quite quickly. We've seen double digit uplift in sales from our retailers when they implement tech in their stores, and I think that speaks for itself.

Brian: [00:43:17] Oh man, there's some great short term, immediate recommendations that I heard in there. That's typically how we like to wrap up our show, although we do like to also hear maybe some long term outlook recommendations as well. Do you have anything you know, what about the next five years? What do you think more specifically should pay attention to that's going to be coming out here soon?

Dean: [00:43:43] Once again, I'm a pretty practical guy with so many years in the online space and I think making sure you implement things which are not going to to lock you in. So keeping in mind that you need to be open, integrated. Don't implement five solutions in the store, and then in two years turn around and think, oh, man, now I've got to try and connect all of these together. And that's a bit of a challenge. Just think about that up front and the types of things that you're likely to want to do and how you want to implement them. As far as new things that are coming, I think we talked about so many of them today.

Brian: [00:44:21] That's true. We did talk about this.

Dean: [00:44:23] And I think there's really going to be a big change in retail, in my opinion, as far as we're seeing this already with brands leading the way, with a lot of retail, with experience stores that are not primarily around selling, they're actually primarily around people having that brand experience. And I think that's going to be a huge change that continues within the industry. Where Samsung store in New York, where they don't even sell any product in that store. It's basically just go in touch, feel experience, have rooms set up as a lounge room, etc, to allow customers to immerse themselves in the brand. And that drives lifetime value from customers because they have that memory. The next time they're thinking about buying audio or video or whatever it is that they didn't necessarily think about at the time, they went in there looking for a TV and then they came out thinking all these other products are very cool as well. I think Apple's led the way with I don't know how many hundreds of people are in a store at a time and how many sales they're making in comparison to that. But they understand that that experience is driving that lifetime value and the affinity for the brand. And I think more and more brands are going to be doing that. They're doing store within a store, within the major big box retailers as well. So that's going to be a huge driver. And that's where technology for the brand absolutely has a place as far as allowing them to speak directly to those customers and start to get more understanding of what those customers are interested in, what they're doing, and also to help that brand to educate the retail associates in the store. So switching to technology from a push to customers to also an educational tool for teaching through osmosis, but also when the retail associates assisting a customer through using the tech or also after hours being able to switch it to educational pieces with the new range that's coming out. This is how it works and those sorts of things. So I think technology in-store has a huge opportunity and there's definitely a lot of different ways in which it can be implemented.

Brian: [00:46:26] I agree. I am really looking forward to seeing it and having that wow factor in the mall again. I'll have a reason to go. {laughter} Well, anyway, thanks again so much, Dean, for coming on. It has been a really a pleasure talking with you and hearing about your view of the future and about Foyer Live. It's been a real pleasure.

Dean: [00:46:51] Absolutely a pleasure, Brian. Thanks for having me on, and I look forward to talking to you again soon.

Brian: [00:46:55] Absolutely. Thanks again to our listeners for listening to Future Commerce. We would love to have some feedback from you about today's show. So if you can, leave us some feedback in the Disqus comment box below. If you subscribed on iTunes, leave was a five star review. You can also subscribe to listen to Future Commerce on iTunes and Google Play or listen right now from your Amazon Echo with the phrase "Alexa, play Future Commerce podcast." Thanks so much again. And with that, keep looking towards the future.

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