Immersive retail remote access model developed

Tuesday, 12 April, 2022

Immersive retail remote access model developed

A new retail model provides a solution for products trials after hours, away from other shoppers and without high-pressure sales pitches. 

The experience is described as a hybrid between a keyless-entry hotel room and a bricks-and-mortar retail showroom, which can be adapted for a range of suppliers selling bulky or high-ticket items like cars and furniture.

The remote access showroom was developed by NZ company Comfi, self-described ‘online bed retailer with a social purpose’ — for every five beds it sells, Comfi provides a full sleep solution for a child in need, including a single bed, base and pillow.

The new retail model allows the customer to first browse from a range of beds online and then receive a code to remotely access an inner-city showroom and enjoy the ‘Goldilocks’ experience.

Vicki Eriksen, Comfi co-founder, says shopping is still a tactile experience for many Kiwi consumers. She says the launch of the new retail storefront has increased sales conversion rates by around 100%, with almost every physical trial in the showroom leading to a sale.

“We know that for many of us, one of the main barriers to online purchasing is the need to see and feel a product.

“This is particularly the case for high-involvement purchases, such as a bed, where the consumer will spend a large amount of time in it but traditionally spends only a few minutes evaluating its suitability in a retail store environment.

“Despite offering a 100-day free trial for online purchases, we rapidly identified a market niche that still needs to lie down on a bed before committing to a purchase,” she said.

Eriksen says the concept has been developed from consumer behaviour insights that are unique to Comfi’s industry.

“For some people, bricks-and-mortar bed shopping can create a degree of unease when it comes to lying down with your feet up on a bed — all while standing beside a stranger in a big box retail showroom.”

Eriksen believes there are applications for the retail model in a variety of industries. One of the company’s shareholders operates a chain of hotels using the remote access technology, which has helped Comfi extend the concept into a retail environment.

“The reality for many consumers now is that they want to be able to shop online any time of the day or night, and the traditional bricks-and-mortar retail model has not effectively caught up with this shift in expectations,” she said.

“The ability to do this during a COVID-19 environment is also increasingly important for a large segment of consumers who are now risk-averse to traditional retail store environments.”

CCTV cameras allow the retailer to monitor the showroom without needing to have it staffed and the one-time access codes permit entry only within a defined period. The Auckland CBD showroom is the first of many planned throughout the country.

Image credit: © STUDIOS

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