Clas Ohlson Lab uses retail technology to draw in customers

Electricals and hardware chain Clas Ohlson might be reducing store numbers in the UK but in its Scandinavian heartlands it is experimenting with new technology and retail experiences in multiple ways.

At the end of October, it opened a new Lab Store in Stockholm, which is built like a home and offers its customers a new type of brand interaction.

Operating with a unique product range and a set-up where products and services will be tested by the retailer with customers before decisions are made about whether they should be stocked more widely, the store stands out for being different.

Adding to its freshness is an in-store service centre, where customers can book help for home projects through Clas Fix It, or develop photos, have their knives sharpened and get advice on home improvements.

Fredrik Uhrbom, country manager for Sweden at Clas Ohlson, commented: “With Lab Store we will have a new arena for solving problems at home.

“It will be an experimental workshop where we develop our business together with customers and collaboration partners. We also see good opportunities to try out new digital solutions here.”

He added: “By integrating our Stockholm office with the Lab Store we also get closer to our customers in more parts of the organisation.”

Customers will be able to use the in-store auditorium to attend seminars and other events related to goods and services for the home, but inside and outside the store are new retail technology installations that aims to drive in new customers and engage them accordingly.

New tech, same customer service goals

Essential Retail recently reported on a technology instalment in H&M’s New York Times Square store, which combined a voice technology-enabled mirror and QR codes to help shoppers gain fashion advice and share their look on social media sites in exchange for discounts.

The same companies behind that deployment – Ombori and Microsoft – have come together to create several tech-fuelled points of interaction in the Clas Ohlson Labs store in Stockholm.

They are screens with QR codes that, once scanned by a customer’s mobile device, open up an array of Clas Ohlson content. As well as bringing to customers’ attention information about products and services, they effectively allow the shopper to explore all of the retailer’s digital assets in the store environment.

Customers can control what they see on the screen with their own phone – flicking their device to scroll through web pages using motion sensor technology embedded in the app. Inside the store, the screens can be commandeered by staff, who can guide shoppers through a sale using a mobile as a remote control.

Andreas Hassellöf, CEO of Ombori, explained: “With Microsoft we’re creating a platform we call the Ombori Grid to build a shopping experience that makes it easy to connect to whatever technology stack the retailer is already using.

“There are four different installations that fulfil different purposes in the Clas Ohlson store. The first is the screen in the window – it works really well in capturing the attention of passers-by because it wakes up when someone walks by the store and highlights offers.”

Pulling power

Hassellöf said that the screen in the shop window allows people to make a purchase even when the store is closed, adding that it pulls in people who would otherwise walk by the store.

“If one person interacts with the screen then we notice it has even more stopping power because people wonder what is going on because they haven’t seen anything like it before.”

He remarked: “We have several projects in the pipeline that will go live this autumn together with many leading retailers around the world, so I think you’ll be seeing more of these interactions very soon.

“We have spent a lot of time refining voice controls that we pioneered with H&M, so you’ll see more voice-based tech in the months ahead.”