Window shopping goes hi-tech

IN TOUCH: Corrie Lane of iStoreFront.
MICHAEL BRADLEY/Fairfax NZ

IN TOUCH: Corrie Lane of iStoreFront.

Window shopping has gone touchy feely.

Interactive advertising screens being trialled on shop fronts in Auckland's beachside suburb of Takapuna, are allowing customers to buy products, sign up for deals - and locate the nearest public toilet or car park building.

iStoreFront, the company piloting the touch-screen technology, has signed up 30 local retailers and is looking to go global.

"We've had a 100 per cent success rate so far," project manager Jonathan Dixon said. "Every single business we've presented to has signed up to it."

Dixon said iStoreFront was looking to break into other centres before expanding overseas and competing head-on with the likes of Google in the digital advertising space.

The pilot project has the support of the Takapuna Beach Business Association, as part of a wider "Techapuna" program aiming to make the centre the most technologically advanced business district in the world. TBBA general manager Peter White said there was "a lot of upside and not much downside" to the project.

One of the benefits was people could use the touchscreens when businesses were closed - particularly useful for Takapuna with its strong restaurant scene, he said. "If they are walking past a shop front and see something they like, they can go to the online store and buy a dress and pick it up the next day. Or book a test-drive of a car."

iStoreFront has developed a software platform called Quantum that allows companies to buy "air time" on the screens, with hosting retailers getting to keep half of the advertising revenue.

Corrie Lane, the developer of the platform, said one of the advantages was it reached people while they were out shopping, rather than sitting at home or playing on their smartphones. "You are talking to people actually out in the street who are in that mindset, that shopping mode," he said.

Lane said there had been several attempts to create similar products but there were technological challenges that had only recently been overcome.

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"LED screens and Plasmas haven't been able to cut direct sunlight. You can't see them when sunlight goes directly into them," he said. "Some places tried putting screens back from the window but that's not very useful if you want to have a touchscreen."

 - Sunday Star Times

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