Avaya Pitches In-Store, Web Video Customer Service Apps to Retailers

Avaya is rolling out two new industry-specific applications at the National Retail Federation’s annual trade show on Monday. One, Avaya Video Assist, leverages the company’s contact center expertise. The other, In-Store Connect, allows retailers to do away with siloed commnication systems such as intercoms or telephones.

Both have already been deployed by retailers, said Daryl Page, managing director and global leader for hospitality and retail at Avaya. A consumer electronics retailer is implementing video assist, while an apparel store is using the In-Store Connect application.

Live on Video

Avaya Video Assist is a Web-based customer service application that connects customers in a store to experts off site using video conferencing and collaboration tools. Typically, these off-site experts are contact center reps who have the skills to answer the questions or help with a certain process, such as hookup or warranty registration.

“We are seeing a lot of applicability of Video Assist for products that require a lot of pre- or post-sale handling,” Page told CRM Buyer. “This frees up the associate to focus on another sale.”

Video Assist builds on earlier kiosk-type products that Avaya has introduced for customer service. In this case, customers communicate via two-way video with a live agent who can push instructions, video clips, photos or diagrams to the customer for reading and printing.

Video Assist leverages the Avaya Communication Manager platform and IP Softphone application, as well as Avaya Call Center and Call Management System.

Size 10 Skirt Run in Fitting Room No. 3

Avaya In-Store Connect, the second new offering being demoed at the show, is a voice- and text-based communications system designed for in in-store environments. It allows workers to communicate through a combination of IP phones located in fitting rooms or at checkout registers, for example, and and mobile devices that can relay both text and phone calls. Say a customer in a fitting room needs an item of a different size, Page said. The retail clerk assisting her could page or text an employee on the floor to pick up the garment, instead of dashing out herself and interrupting the customer’s shopping experience.

In-Store Connect is a combination of Avaya, Motorola and Indyme products. It includes Avaya’s IP telephony platform, phones and custom phone applications; Motorola’s CA50 VoIP-enabled wireless scanner; and Indyme’s paging, escalation and reporting technologies.

Retailers can use the data that these systems gather for a variety of purposes. For example, the data can identify a potential problem if one particular aisle or section should take up a lot of a clerk’s time.

“Especially in this economic environment, this kind of analysis is very valuable,” Page said. “It is costly for a retailer to add associates, and they want to leverage the ones they have as best as possible.”

Next-Gen Retail

Expect to see more vendors leverage pre-existing customer care functionality to create new mash-up applications, said Ken Landoline, an analyst with Synergy Research Group.

“I see this move into retail environments as the precursor of new ventures into other vertical markets,” he told CRM Buyer, “as vendors look to capitalize on contact center and customer care R&D dollars, and expand returns on those investments to create enhanced revenue streams from the broader marketplace.”

It is not surprising Avaya is among the earlier providers, he continued, as Avaya In-Store Connect and Video Assist are a natural extension of Avaya’s customer service product line in the contact center and customer care marketplace.

“We have expected for some time now that the high levels of functionality being used in the contact center space, where Avaya is an industry leader, would expand into the larger enterprise,” Landoline noted. “This entree into the retail space is a perfect example of that expansion.”

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