Avaya Eyes Retailers With New Gear

While the solutions Avaya unveiled Monday at the 2009 National Retail Federation Conference and Expo target a different vertical, Avaya is maintaining its focus on keeping employees connected through collaborative communications.

The new tools -- Avaya In-Store Connect and Avaya Video Assist -- highlight ways contact center and unified communications technologies can boost retail customer service and employee productivity in store environments, said Daryl Page, managing director of retail at Avaya.

"The real push is trying to leverage and extend the workforce," he said.

According to Page, the two new retail-focused solutions will give Avaya resellers a new area to target, broadening their customer base and giving them new inroads into customer relationships. For partners that may not have offered solutions geared toward the contact center and retail environments, the new solutions could open doors, he said.

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In-Store Connect gives users voice- and text-based communications customized specifically for in-store workers. The solution ties together technologies from Avaya, Motorola and Indyme Solutions, including Avaya's IP telephony platform, phones and customer phone applications; Motorola's CA50 VoIP-enabled wireless scanner; and Indyme's paging, escalation and reporting technologies.

According to Avaya, In-Store connect helps retail associates collaborate and address customer needs by placing IP phones in various locations, such as fitting rooms and at check-out registers and integrating them with mobile devices. The solution lets employees communicate on-the-go via text messages and phone calls, eliminating the need for headsets, walkie-talkies, separate Wi-Fi phones and pagers, ultimately cutting costs.

The solution can be customized. For example, a dressing room attendant in an apparel store can use custom menu options on the Motorola CA50 to request help for a customer in the dressing room. At a grocery store, customized buttons let workers send messages requesting a clean up or a price check. Additionally, if a store cashier has a large number of shoppers waiting in line, that worker can press a button on the IP desk phone, sending a message to other workers for assistance. An assisting co-worker can walk over and acknowledge he has arrived by cancelling the alert, and if the alert goes unanswered for a set amount of time, the Indyme technology can escalate the request to a store manager.

Each interaction and escalation using the In-Store system can be compiled into a report that stores can use to determine customer service levels.

The second retail solution Avaya unveiled Monday is the Avaya Video Assist, an in-store IP video-based customer service solution that connects customers to off-site experts using video conferencing and collaboration, giving customers assistance on specific products and issues. The solution puts experts at the fingertips of customers that require more information than on-site associates can deliver while reducing the need for additional in-store staff.

Essentially, a customer visiting a store can go to the Video Assist kiosk, place a product in a cradle in front of the camera and communicate via two-way video with a live agent. The assisting agent can push instructions, video clips, photos and diagrams to the customer for reading and printing, along with the ability to send a store map to a customer detailing a product's in-store location.

The Video Assist uses an Avaya Communication Manager platform and IP Softphone application, along with contact center applications like Avaya Call Center and Call Management System.

"In these challenging economic times, the retailers who will succeed are those who can differentiate themselves by delivering a unique and positive customer experience, and do so in a cost-effective way," said Greg Billings, vice president of Avaya Global Professional Services. "Working with valued partners, Avaya is using its strengths in unified communications and contact centers to deliver new, innovative ways for retailers to help ensure their in-store customers always have access to the right experts, and can get fast, informed answers to their questions."