updated 04:00 pm EDT, Tue May 29, 2007
HP Retail Store Assistant
Researchers at HP Labs today previewed a unique concept it hopes will rethink the basics behind retail stores. Called the Retail Store Assistant, the computer kiosk will connect to the shop owner's network or the Internet to tailor the experience to the buyer. Instead of sending coupons that are often thrown aside, the company can track what regular visitors buy and customize the entire experience to their tastes: buyers could receive special discounts on favorite food or register to get word of new albums or books from preferred artists, HP says. The Assistant could further ease the process of finding items in a store by printing a grocery-style shopping list and even creating a custom map of the store.
HP's implementation would let customers access the system either through a shopping card or a piece of login information, such as a phone number. Web access would also be possible to prepare for a large trip in advance.
Although currently only a prototype, the system could be used in the near future and would help not just customers but also the stores themselves, freeing time for the floor staff to focus on the actual sale and for managers to market the right goods in their displays.