SingTel is recreating their winning interactive digital retail experience for their shoppers with the opening of the new Comcentre on Singapore’s Orchard Road. In 2009 the concept won them top place in the Singapore Retail Awards for "Best Retail Concept of the Year". John Anderson, CEO of Yeahpoint, the technology company behind the technology, talks Retail in Asia through the successful implementation, revealing how cutting-edge technology can take retail experience to a new level.
RIA: What is the background for SingTel and Yeahpoint’s co-operation?
John Anderson (JA): The concept store that opened in January 2009 marked the first time that both Yeahpoint and SingTel worked together on a project. We started talks with SingTel in early 2008 about how SingTel could best utilise self service technology to more effectively engage with their consumers. While their stores were successful, SingTel wanted to revolutionise the industry and create a store that was exciting, engaging and unique. We were brought onto the project because we were in the unique position of being able to offer SingTel a single software platform, yeahWARE CORE9 that was capable of managing all of the media within the store simply and effectively.
Using yeahWARE CORE9 allowed us to implement a consistent platform that integrated with SingTel’s existing software network which was crucial to the company’s continuity. yeahWARE CORE9 is also designed specifically for point of sale and kiosk applications so it allowed all of the software in the store to work fluidly as one, with total consumer interaction and control.
RIA: What do you think were the reasons for SingTel and Yeahpoint winning the Best Retail Concept of the Year in 2009?
JA: I personally believe that it was because we had truly created an in store experience that had never been achieved to that degree before. Many had tried, but hadn’t managed to create the synergy between all of the media devices at once. All of the embedded touch screens, monitors, tablet devices and projectors worked together as one, to create a truly unified experience for the consumer.
It also allowed customers to be engaged via touch screen devices when they were waiting in the queue, giving the store a chance to still make sales without the need for a salesperson, which is an incredibly powerful retail model.
RIA: What kind of experience does SingTel want to bring to its customers at the new SingTel flagship store at the Comcentre?
JA: Located at their head office and near the Orchard Road shopping precinct, this is SingTel’s flagship store and as a result, SingTel wanted to create a point of difference in the market. The size of the store allowed for a lot of creative thinking ultimately resulting in the store it is today.
SingTel wanted to take everything that made the 2009 store great and make it even better. It also had a number of ideas that it wished to implement to really give customers a way to experience the brand at their own pace by taking their own journey through the store using touch screen self service technology.
The new store is a one stop shop for customers to try out all of SingTel’s latest products including apps, music, mio TV as well as try out new smartphones and accessories. Yeahpoint and SingTel really wanted to give customers a way of totally immersing themselves within the store while having a lot of fun as they experienced all of these products first hand.
It was also an opportunity to give customers an experience to remember by creating the "wow" factor as they entered the store. As a result, we worked tirelessly to create the 32-metre circular display, which is an incredibly complicated device, but definitely achieves this goal.
RIA: How did Yeahpoint address SingTel’s objectives?
JA: We implemented a range of self service and multimedia devices in store a well as some unique innovations that are changing the way people look to use multimedia in retail and in business.
For example, the 32-metre circular dual sided display is simply brilliant and allows images to be played seamlessly on a loop and is able to run as four independent images or a complete 360 degree dual sided display. With the ability to have both stills and seamless animations, it truly has to be seen to be believed. At over 82 square metres of display area we believe that it is one of, if not the largest, indoor digital signs ever deployed.
The "Teach Centre" is also generating some strong interest in the business community thanks to its unique take on the traditional conference room experience. Five motorised screens give a complete 360 degree experience in a business environment, providing more engaging meetings by ensuring that every face at the table can be seen easily and all participants can clearly view presentations from any angle; which isn’t possible in traditional boardroom style meetings.
The key to the entire store is however, without a doubt, yeahWARE CORE9. SingTel can upload new content and change it as required so that the entire store’s multimedia devices change simultaneously whether it is a monitor, touch screen, projector, tablet device or even a smartphone. It is this multiplatform approach that allows the store to continue to evolve and create a seamless multimedia experience for its consumers.
RIA: What were some of the challenges in building the giant dual-sided digital display?
JA: The primary challenges of delivering a solution of this magnitude are three fold – designing it, building and installation as well as controlling the content. These can be described as follows:
1. Design considerations
- Design of the screen dimensions, uniformity and positioning was an engineering challenge
- Design to cater for the extensive heat generated by 20 HD projectors and 20 Media players
- Design to cater for the weight of the solution e.g. LCD or plasma panels were ruled out earlier as this solution would have weighed in excess of 2 tonnes
- Design to allow for a stable platform for the projectors and also to allow for a downward throw of the projection image
2. Installation challenges
- Installation proved to be complicated as we had to ensure the screen was perfectly circular and all 20 screens were aligned
- Installation to ensure we could mount screens without impacting on the required building service (water, air conditioning, electricity and data) running within the roof
3. Content challenges
- Being able to deliver multiple format images and have all projectors fully sycnchronised
- Being able to take content from multiple inputs
- Remote management of content and all technology
We managed to bring all of the elements together to produce an incredible piece of technology that looks brilliant and gives SingTel total control and flexibility. This was achieved through strong planning and a great working relationship between all parties involved.
RIA: What do you see the upcoming trend of "retail interactivity"? How does it affect retailers and consumers in Singapore and in the rest of Asia?
JA: As economics dictate, there are two real challenges in the retail environment where retailers must continue to drive down the cost of doing business while enhancing the consumer experience. Self service solutions and mobility are going to be the key factors in achieving this.
Mobility is without a doubt, the integration of mobile (tablet and smartphones) into the shopping experience. Many people don’t realise it but a smartphone is basically a mobile billboard in people’s pockets and when that power is harnessed properly, it provides a very valuable sales tool.
The creation of commercially based mobile applications is starting to dramatically rise in Asia as companies become increasingly aware of the power of integrating in-store kiosks with consumer smartphone’s. As a customer enters a store they can have a list of the latest specials downloaded straight to their phone as well as a welcome note and a list of what they purchased last. It provides a valuable and direct link that can even continue whether the customer is at home or even at work.
Geo-spacial advertising is another concept that could be rolled out in the not too distant future and involves tracking customers movements throughout a store and tailoring advertising and content to suit them. Is the customer walking towards the frozen section? Then it’s far better to advertise for a tub of ice cream than fruit and vegetables. This really allows advertising to be targeted at the point of purchase which is an invaluable tool for retailers.
Yeahpoint are developing a whole host of new applications that are changing the retail landscape, together with popular devices such as MiMirror, the importance of self service technology in the retail environment has never been greater.
CEO of Yeahpoint John Anderson has talked about the major trends of self service and retail media solutions in a previous interview with Retail in Asia. To read the interview, click here.
Yeahpoint was established in Australia in 2003 and has steadily grown at a rate of between 50 and 100 percent year on year. It now operates on a global scale with over 70 percent of its business in foreign markets. With offices located in the UK, US and an ever growing presence in Europe, Africa and Asia, Yeahpoint continues to lead the way in interactive self service.
Yeahpoint has provided solutions for a wide range of organisations in key sectors such as telecommunications, retail, financial services, government, motoring and health, to name a few. In Asia specifically, Yeahpoint has been involved extensively in the rollout of SingTel’s next generation stores, with their concept store winning "Best Retail Concept of the Year" at the 2009 Singapore Retail Awards. In addition, Yeahpoint is currently preparing to roll out new networks in the hospitality, beauty and cosmetics industries in South East Asia.