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HP Bows Retailer Tool Prototype

Palo Alto, Calif. — HP Labs has introduced a prototype of a system designed to enhance the brick-and-mortar shopping experience by incorporating some aspects commonly associated with online shopping.

According to a release, the Retail Store Assistant was designed to streamline the in-store shopping experience by better connecting consumer and store data, helping retailers to offer customers a new level of personalization intended to close the so-called “intention-action gap.”

HP expects the system to provide retailers with the ability to access real-time reports and analysis of their marketing and sales campaigns. According to the company it can also be used to provide sales assistance to customers without the need for staff, or as an employee training tool.

The system features an in-store kiosk linked to a retailer’s IT system which customers can use by swiping a loyalty card or typing in their phone numbers, giving them access to inventory, sales and in certain cases, customer purchase information.

If retailers choose to incorporate the system into their stores, HP said that with a customer’s permission, the tool will allow retailers to maintain registries of customer purchases including the item, size, color style and other relevant information. It will also allow consumers to create “wish lists,” similar to a bridal registry, in order to give potential gift-givers ideas about what the customer would like to receive.

The system is expected to give participating consumers with access to information about items for sale, including pricing, availability and third-party reviews and recommendations for related products. In chain stores, it can also offer customers alternate locations where a product might be available if the product is out of stock in their particular location.

The Retail Store Assistant is expected to allow for the production of custom printouts featuring personalized coupons, shopping lists, product information and a store map marked with the locations of selected items. The content of these printouts would be based on the customer purchase information stored in the system.

“Instead of sending consumers advertising and coupons and hoping they’ll come in to buy, it’s better to reach them when they’re actually in the store – they’re more likely to make the purchase,” said Mohamed Dekhil, retail applications manager in the digital imaging and printing lab at HP Labs, the IT company’s central research facility.

To further streamline the shopping experience, HP said customers would also be able to access their personalized information at the retailer’s Web sites before going to the store.