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Event Recap: Microsoft Retail Experience Center Tour

This Thursday, our FGI members were treated to an exclusive tour of the Microsoft Retail Experience Center in Redmond. The tour was led by Marty Ramos, CTO of Retail and Consumer Products & Services at Microsoft and Sharon Whittier, VP Sales and Development at AVA Retail and FGI Seattle Board Member.

The center is a 23,000 SF warehouse including a mall with 12 stores. The majority of the technology included beacons to track customers via apps, GPS and physical movement in retail stores. Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to share photos of the technology in the warehouse, but here are a few fun things that were showcased.

  • Microsoft Social Engagement – social tracking using a map of social post locations globally, sentiment charts, live twitter feed; Microsoft staff are available 24 hours a day to respond to customers
  • Circular conference room with a large round table and eight wall displays running from one PC. The screens displayed charts and graphs of data depending on beacon zones to determine what products to suggest to customers
  • A coffee house that uses beacons to track when you’re close so your coffee is hot when you arrive. The pickup station uses lights to mark each customer’s order with a specific light depending on the size of the cup and the customer’s name
  • A game specialty store that uses beacons to track who’s in the store, customer sales, coupon use, social media use, interaction with sales reps and most visited store locations
  • NFC tags and buttons including a temperature button to monitor when kids are sick, Domino’s tag to scan with your phone and order pizza and retail buttons to attach to your phone and shop online
  • Directional Speakers – enabled to focus a beam of sound to a specific point in the environment, which makes you feel like you’re wearing headphones
  • Caroline – a holographic robot kiosk that can speak different languages, including American sign language
  • A reactive digital sign that integrates customers into retail signs
  • Microsoft Cash Drawer that counts cash every time you close it by weight
  • LED lighting in retail stores that use 80% less energy, pulse at a frequency that phones can pick up and triangulate a phone within 2-4 inches
  • Floor mats that track the direction of traffic in stores
  • Fully interactive kiosk with video, sound, touchscreen that turns any solid surface into a speaker
  • A phone with a 6″x 3.25″ screen used as a register, barcode scanner, mag strip reader, chip card, pin pad, signature screen and tap to pay
  • Virtual dressing rooms and makeup counters

Minds were absolutely blown throughout this tour and we’ll definitely look into planning another tour for our members who missed out on this one. After the tour, a few members met up at Matts’ Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge in Redmond to further discuss some of the technology and how it could be used in today’s retail environment.