Luxury home appliance retailer Pirch has taken customer engagement to a new level by integrating Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablets into the store’s shopper-associate interactions.
Pirch has fully deployed the Surface tablets at three of its nine retail locations, but the retailer is currently working with Microsoft on a plan to implement them in all stores “in the near future.” The Pirch team also is currently evaluating the possible implementation of Surface tablets within its distribution centers, which handle Pirch Professional Installation services.
With the Surface Pro 4, Pirch now has the ability to:
Merge customer-facing services with back-end functionalities under the Pirch Advisor platform;
Complement its showroom design aesthetic, further establishing a true luxury experience;
Reduce workloads for the stores’ personal associates, known as Lifestyle Experience Advisors (LEAs); and
Cut back-end business costs by moving from printing to a digital platform.
The Pirch stores were already known for engaging experiences before onboarding the Surface technology. LEAs are stationed in each store to guide customers through a showroom, enabling them to view and test kitchen, bath and outdoor appliances they may want to purchase.
“We are constantly looking for technologies that serve to complement our guest experience,” said Craig Hills, Director of Digital Operations for Pirch. “We evaluated several tablet devices over the years, looking for the best blend of mobility, touch, power, usability, supportability and back-end compatibility. With Surface we found the platform that enables our Lifestyle Experience Advisors to interact with our guests and our line of business applications, while enhancing the customer journey.”
The design aesthetic of the Surface ties in to the luxury style the brand seeks to promote, with the tablets featuring magnesium casing and a 12” touchscreen display.
“It really comes down to simplicity and design,” Hills said. “Using Surface allows us to focus on bringing the best blend of features and functionality to our guests in a manner that is simple to use, yet very powerful. The beautiful design of Surface also matches the design aesthetic of our showrooms and the leading brands we carry, with a visually recognizable and trusted brand icon.”
Putting Individual Customers’ Preferences Into Associates’ Hands
Using Surface, Pirch can enable its proprietary touch-enabled customer interaction application, Pirch Advisor, which is built on Microsoft’s enterprise cloud platform Azure. Pirch Advisor contains individual client preferences and product designs, and enables LEAs to manage budgets, check product availability and pricing, or even schedule a follow-up meeting. The platform utilizes Microsoft Office 365, as well as a screen-compatible pen enabling LEAs to manage everything from customer-facing tasks to managing back-end business operations.
“Pirch Advisor, when married with Surface, provides a ’best in class’ digital retail interaction experience for our Lifestyle Experience Advisors and guests,” Hills said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Surface and Pirch Advisor enables our team to guide the customer through the in-store experience, reducing the workload associated with older technologies yet still complementing the digital experience.”
Not only did workloads decrease, but so did costs, since Pirch could now support back-end business operations on a digital platform. In a blog post on Windows.com, Hills emphasized the importance of moving the Pirch brand into more digitally driven initiatives, particularly since the home appliance industry traditionally remains hesitant to fully embrace technology in the same way that other retail industries have. This way, Pirch stays ahead of the game in merging the physical and digital aspects of the consumer experience.
“When you’re working with blueprints and designs, it’s still a largely analog world,” Hills said in the post. “It’s important that being able to create is at the heart of the experience, because that’s really what we’re doing here, helping our guests create the home of their dreams.”