By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
CE Interactive is introducing a product training and configuration program designed to assist consumers with the proper set up and operation of their CE products.
The Web-based application, dubbed Virtuoso, was developed to help CE retailers reduce product returns, increase accessory attachment rates, and improve the customer experience, the company said.
CE Interactive is the latest venture by consumer electronics industry veteran and entrepreneur Dean Summers, the founder and former president of Partsearch Technologies, a leading outsourced parts management company.
Summers describes Virtuoso Retail 1.0, his new company's debut product, as the first CE product optimization system, which intelligently informs users of the specific cables and peripherals required to set up their products, how to connect their products together for optimal performance, and how to properly operate their products, all based on the specific brands and product models entered into the application.
Version 1.0 is designed to be used on the retail floor by sales associates and consumers, and by the end user at home through a retail or OEM Web site.
Among its features, the system will point out which cables are needed to interconnect the specific brands of components purchased, as well as to connect to any legacy products owned by the end user. The consumer will also receive custom setup and operation assistance tailor-made for the specific products purchased, which are meant to prevent frustration over lengthy and potentially unsuccessful self-installation efforts.
Virtuoso addresses the returns problem faced by retailers and manufacturers by co-opting the end user and educating him before he realizes that he might have a problem, Summers explained.
Virtuoso also features a Merchant Console, which provides a layer to allow merchants to enter specific brands or SKU numbers that cross reference to the cable/peripheral types. In this way, specific products can be “pushed” to the sales associate, allowing the retail merchant to align Virtuoso's functionality to a specific merchandising strategy.
“We spent the last year working with major retailers and OEM's to define the pain points surrounding product returns in order to define what direction we were going in,” Summers said. “Using this feedback, we began our research and development efforts which resulted in an innovative and unique product that we believe will have a very significant impact on the consumer electronics industry.”
CE Interactive will be unveiling Virtuoso at their suite at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during the 2006 International CES in January.
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