Razorfone takes retail from ho-hum to fun

Recently I discussed how technology helps marketers create experiences that build businesses.  As if on cue, the Razorfish Emerging Experiences team just released Razorfone — an application that shows how multitouch technology can turn the boring process of buying a mobile phone into an immersive experience.

Razorfone uses the Razorfish Touch Framework and interactive 3D technology to make it possible for customers to view mobile phone devices from any color and angle, explore crucial details like carrier service (via an interactive map), and personalize their devices with applications and features — all before leaving the store.

Luke Hamilton, creative/experience lead on the Emerging Experiences team, told me in a phone interview, “Consumers are faced with complex buying decisions in retail, especially considering the wide assortment of products and technologies available.  Razorfone is all about simplifying the purchase decision in the store.”

Hamilton, chatting on the eve of the holiday shopping season, added, “Razorfone gives consumers and store associates an interactive experience to simplify the process of buying a wireless device and plan, but Razorfone can apply to other products.  With Razorfone, customers can easily compare devices and have fun doing so.  One of the major advantages of a solution like Razorfone is that customers can personalize the product with designs and content before they walk out of the store.”

And why is it so important to personalize a device with designs and content in the store itself?  Luke explained: “It all comes down to lowering return rates.  Not only are we giving customers the tools necessary to make an informed buying decision, we are also empowering customers to personalize their devices before they walk out of the store — thus making buyer’s remorse less likely.”

But it’s also crucial that the technology support a transaction.  Luke stressed the importance of the shopping cart feature that employs RFID to enable the purchase of the device while the customer is in the store.

“It’s essential that Razorfone employ complete point-of-sale integration,” he added.  “Marketers in the retail industry are adding digital to the sales experience, but they don’t necessarily know how to make the experience succeed commercially.  Razorfone shows the marketer how to convert a sale through the digital experience.”

So what does an agency like Razorfish need to deliver a Razorfone experience?  According to Luke:

  • Consumer insight — an understanding of the consumer behaviors that inspire the solution
  • Strategy capability to ensure that the experience solves a specific business problem (for instance, simplifying complex buying decisions in a retail environment)
  • Designers to create an elegant experience
  • Technologists to implement not only the front-end technologies but the behind-the-scenes integration (including content management and RFID) to make sure the customer experience works well

The next step for Razorfone?  Implementation for clients.  Luke indicated that Razorfone, based on Razorfish client work, is opening doors already with companies that want to create the right digital experience for their customers.  According to Luke, although Razorfone focuses on the purchase of a mobile device, as a proof of concept it can work in any retail setting where complex products need to be explained — a significant consideration especially among big retailers where staff turnover and constantly changing product features are the norm.

Maybe we can even hope for happier holiday shopping this time next year.

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