Airports and travel do not elicit the same level of excitement for everyone. For some, the idea of traveling fills them with anxiety and stress, while other travelers look forward to arriving at the airport early to enjoy the numerous amenities now offered in airports around the globe. No matter your outlook, airports are continuously taking steps to improve the traveling experience for all. Ombori Apps AB, in collaboration with Dufry AG, has tested a Store Assistant Solution at the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport in Spain in hopes of elevating the customer experience. Madrid-Barajas is the main international airport serving Madrid and is the second-largest airport in Europe in physical size. In 2019, it serviced 61.8 million passengers.
Created by Andreas Hassellöf, Ombori is an innovative technology company responsible for creating the Ombori Grid - a platform that provides ready-to-use solutions for digital screen and mobile devices in-store. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Ombori creates interactive technology for retailers, including in-store kiosks and installations, payment systems, digital signage, sales support tools, and mobile apps.
Dufry AG is a global retail traveler that operates nearly 2,400 duty-free and duty-paid shops in airports, cruise lines, seaports, railway stations, and downtown tourist areas. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, the company operates in 65 countries across five continents and employs more than 30,000 team members.
Working collaboratively to streamline traditional travel procedures, while providing an intuitive tech-based platform, Ombori and Dufry AG's launch of the virtual assistant highlighted changing traveler preferences, and leveraged technology to exceed evolving expectations. In addition to this inaugural collaboration, Ombori plans to launch virtual assistant technology throughout various international airport locations.
Features of the Virtual Assistant
Ombori's Store Assistant Solution is an interactive digital display that provides a myriad of useful resources for travelers. By simply scanning their boarding pass, travelers can receive updates on flight information, travel recommendations, and access to information about amenities and shopping within the designated airport. The virtual assistant even allows travelers to pre-order meals from available restaurants and checkout in advance. These features not only save travelers precious time, they can streamline operations for businesses. Queue management is a vital component to successful operations. The Virtual Assistant can be used in conjunction with Ombori's queue management system options to maximize efficiencies, especially helpful in time-sensitive environments, such as airports.
Ombori uses its Wayfinder technology to assist travelers in locating pertinent areas in the airport, such as gate locations, restrooms, shops, restaurants, and other facilities. Wayfinder is an interactive map that provides directions to specific locations. The route appears on the map and indicates how long it will take the user to reach that destination. Within a traditional airport experience, many travelers experience heightened stress about how long it will take to reach their gate. Worried about missing their flight, many travelers remain wary about devoting focus to shopping, browsing, and engaging in recreational activities. Thus, providing the time information is a reassuring way to let travelers be proactively aware of their time management, allowing travelers to determine how much time they can spend shopping. In turn, this increases the likelihood that they will make a purchase, and increases revenue.
Travelers can request additional information using voice-operated or touch-sensitive features, personalizing the experience to each individual.
Helena Radeson, Dufry Global Marketing Manager, said, "We are quite excited to test the virtual assistant in-store. We are constantly looking to bring our consumers elevated shopping experiences [on] their own terms, and these tests truly break the barriers between on- and offline and enable consumers to move seamlessly between personal and in-store devices. The voice feature is marvelous [for attracting] consumers' attention, and the boarding pass scan with following flight and gate info [is a] great call to action. All in all, the virtual assistant should make it possible for our consumers to make full use of our extensive in-store and on-device services and offers, and so far, we seem to be doing exactly that."
Ombori Solutions Improve the Shopping Experience
In addition to updates and location features, the Store Assistant can enhance a traveler's shopping experience. Once travelers have scanned their boarding pass, the Store Assistant informs them how much time until boarding - or how much time they have to shop.
The interactive system allows users to start shopping online and helps them choose purchases based on their personal preferences. Using the Guided Selling feature, customers are assisted through a voice interface that is friendly and conversational. The shopper is guided through a series of questions to help narrow recommendations, finding more amenable products to the customer. Ombori's Store Assistant has full access to nearby inventory and can explore availability with the customer in real-time. This includes shopping for gifts, skincare products, fragrances, liquor, and more. Using voice activation or a touch screen, the system assists in the shopping experience until the customer has selected an item.
Once an item has been identified for purchase, the customer has a variety of options for pickup. They can locate the product immediately using Wayfinder, limiting the amount of time spent between finding a desired product and completing a counter purchase.
The Store Assistant also expands Ombori's Endless Aisle to help customers make more informed shopping decisions. Endless Aisle offers consumers the option to purchase items not available in the store. By linking to an e-commerce platform, customers can shop beyond current inventory and have their purchases shipped directly to them or to a nearby location. With the use of the virtual assistant at the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport, travelers can order an item and have it ready for pick up when they return from their journey. This is important for travelers who don't want to be weighed down with gifts and goodies, and is beneficial to both the traveler and the airline.
When not in use, the Store Assistant can be leveraged as an advertising tool. Rotating advertisements presenting offers, promotions, or instructions, can appear on the screen, increasing the statistical chance that a bypasser will stop.
How Does the Virtual Assistant Work?
Ombori uses Azure IoT, a technology developed in collaboration with Microsoft, to manage devices in a retail store environment reliably. Their CMS (Grid Console) provides availability information so that retailers can manage their digital platforms from a single web interface. The Grid Console also provides a dashboard to track all experiences and a health overview to monitor the availability of the devices. It uses a federated login and role-based access management to keep all information secure.
Store Assistant Solution Helps Companies Meet Business Goals
The interactive platform has proven to help companies, such as Dufry AG, meet their advanced business goals. According to Ombori, the Store Assistant helps retailers achieve the following:
Prevent lost revenue due to the unavailability of products that customers are looking for
Prevent lost revenue due to customers being unable to find what they are looking for in the store
Convert in-store visits to online relationships
Create a more pleasing end efficient shopping experience with an innovative feel, strengthening brand awareness and loyalty
Learn more about customer demographics and interests in the store by capturing approximations of their age and gender together with their usage information
Elevating the experience further, Ombori's Store Assistant can be enhanced with additional modules, including a payment system.
Meeting the Demands of the Future
This new multilingual system is changing the dynamics of future travel and retail. Available in English, German, Spanish, and Chinese, the Store Assistant can help elevate every traveler's experience within airports worldwide. In fact, Ombori plans to test its solutions in other locations such as Zurich, Switzerland, and Stockholm, Sweden, according to recent press coverage.
With its ongoing commitment to innovative solutions, Ombori may soon be implementing the selfie mirror on a large-scale, designed to enhance the customer experience further. This feature, as seen via Ombori's collaboration with H&M, allows users to take a selfie, then download it to their phone. If implemented in an airport setting, this technology can provide travelers with a voice-activated solution for taking photos at the airport, creating a memorable experience. For retailers, it strengthens brand awareness and loyalty through an innovative and pleasing shopping experience, converts into online customers by allowing quick handoff to a mobile device, and expands their business presence on popular messaging services, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Line.
Andreas Hassellöf, CEO of Ombori, commented, "Over the last few years, we have been finding new ways to present guided selling that really works. To be successful, it's essential to inspire the customer during the whole process. At the same time, it's an extremely powerful tool for a salesperson to use when interacting directly with the customer. This kind of in-store retail technology is not a replacement for sales people, it's a tool for enhancing their effectiveness, increasing sales, and delivering a great customer experience."