Valora Lab Newsletter — September 2016

k kiosk Dielsdorf

As a new month approaches, The Valora Lab Team has much to look forward to as we continue to break ground in digital retail experience innovation. We recently released a new application, Scan&Go, and are scheduled to participate in Europe’s largest hackathon in September. Read more about our app release and the hackathon below, as well as our commentary on one of the latest trends emerging within the conversational commerce category — chatbots.

Valora to participate in HackZurich

The largest hackathon in Europe, HackZurich, will be held in Technopark Zurich from September 16–18. In typical hackathon fashion, the event will bring together 500 participants, including developers, graphic designers, interface designers, and project managers. The 500 participants will collaborate to work on many different software projects in a non-stop, 48-hour sprint.

HackZurich is just one component of Zurich’s Digital Festival — a four-day event where digital leaders, makers, coders, tech fanatics, and innovative startups from around the world will come together for keynote talks, coding intensives, labs, workshops, parties, and relaxed hang-out sessions.

For the second time, Valora will support HackZurich together with Scandit and siroop as retail-industry sponsors. We’ll be challenging the hackathon participants by asking teams to create prototypes of new digital shopping experiences. The best prototype will be awarded prizes. Pre-sign up to our workshop or get in touch for more info!

Introducing Scan&Go app by Valora

Everyday, Valora serves over 1.6 million customers throughout Europe. Our vast reach allows us the opportunity to impact retail experiences on large scale, and we’re always looking for new ways we can use technology to do so.

Last month, in collaboration with Auto-ID Labs from ETH Zurich, we launched a pilot of our new Scan&Go app at three select stores in Zurich. Scan&Go allows customers to self-checkout with the convenience and ease of their smartphone.

Customers download the app and register their account. Then, the customer can go to the participating stores and scan the barcode(s) of any product(s) they would like to purchase and pay for everything directly through the app. Overall, Scan&Go offers a faster, more convenient shopping experience at our stores.

For now, this preview version of Scan&Go is a time-limited pilot, launched as a way to test new checkout experiences in our stores. As we gather data from app usage and performance, we’ll learn a lot about the pros and cons of offering this digital experience to our customers — which is all part of the journey.

Check out the Scan&Go App for yourself. Download it now in the App Store now and let us know what you think.

Chatbots bridging communication gap between retailers and customers

Did you know, messaging apps now have more users than social networking apps?

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Viber boast 3 billion active monthly users, globally. Compare that to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram’s 2.4 billion monthly active users and it might not seem like a significant difference. The differentiating factor, however, is that the numbers for messaging apps encompass mobile users, while the numbers for social networking apps encompass millions of computer-only users.

On average, mobile users have 33 apps on their phone, yet they spend 80% of their time on only three apps — Facebook, Google Chrome, and Whatsapp. These stats prove why people are beginning to turn to their messaging apps as a second home screen.

This is particularly interesting data for retailers, because it opens up the possibility of using chatbots to enable native communication between customers and retailers. Customers, especially millennials, expect to be able to interact with their favorite brands the same way they interact with their friends and family. Chatbots, a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, can bring this new form of interaction to customers, and also benefit brands by allowing them to be present where their customers are already spending significant time — in the messaging apps.

With the recent updates to the Facebook Messenger platform, brands can now build chatbots that operate through Messenger. Through the Messenger API, chatbots can send more than just text messages. They’ll be able to respond to customer with structured, detailed messages that might include images, links, and call-to-action buttons. These bots can potentially allow customers to make restaurant reservations, review an ecommerce order, check their bank account balance, and more.

Several brands are already utilizing chatbots in this way. 1–800-Flowers, for example, is offering customers the ability to order floral arrangements through Messenger. By using a blend of chatbot and live customer service support in Messenger, 1–800-Flowers provides their customers with “gift concierge” services — answering customer questions, making gift suggestions, processing orders, sending shipping updates, and gift reminders.

In the airline industry, KLM is offering customers a new way to receive their flight documentations. After booking a flight, customers can select an option to receive their booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding pass, and flight status updates all through Messenger. With this method, customers can enjoy the ease of having all of their travel information conveniently stored in one place, that they can access anywhere — at home, en route, or at the airport.

The Valora Lab is currently experimenting with chatbots to offer new, digital retail experiences for our customers. We’re currently working on several prototypes that would allow our customers to interact with chatbots to manage coupons, order coffee, and receive product recommendations. Our goal is to introduce our very first chatbot in the coming weeks.

If you have any suggestions on what we should build, please get in touch!