REDMOND, Wash., and RICHMOND, Va. — Aug. 20, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. and Circuit City Stores Inc. today announced that select Circuit City stores are empowering their sales associates with Tablet PCs running a custom Windows-based application to help them offer a more knowledgeable, consistent experience that builds consumer confidence and loyalty.
Called the Enhanced Digital Guide Experience (EDGE), Circuit City’s new mobile devices can speed the sales process by providing associates with immediate access to product recommendations, demos, usage questions, competitive pricing and more for thousands of items across hundreds of categories. EDGE is helping transform the retailer’s customer-service model in new-format stores known as the city™ by enabling any available associate to sell or discuss any product with any guest using a boundless selling approach to consumer electronics.
“With EDGE, sales associates can engage the guest, ask questions and input feedback for product recommendations that match the guest’s preferences and budget,” said Brian Leach, vice president of new concepts for Circuit City. “Because EDGE puts a wealth of information at our associates’ fingertips, we can hire from a broader talent pool and prepare them for the sales floor more quickly.”
“With consumer electronics products being upgraded as often as every 90 days, retailers are pressured to stay on top of all the latest trends while at the same time ensuring competitive pricing, clean stores and well-stocked shelves,” said David Gruehn, U.S. retail industry director at Microsoft. “By using a Tablet PC running a Windows-based application such as EDGE to elevate sales associates’ knowledge and effectiveness, Circuit City is differentiating itself from other retailers and tackling a key issue that all retailers face: how to increase customer loyalty and sales with a frequently evolving workforce.”
“What started as a selling tool turned into something that has removed boundaries from our service model and changed the way that we run our business,” Leach said.
Circuit City Innovates Stores With Interactive, Assisted Selling Capabilities
Circuit City teamed with Microsoft and its partners to design EDGE to extract product information, inventory data, in-store promotions, third-party reviews, and other information over the Internet and from multiple back-end business systems. Once the information is extracted, EDGE is then optimized with decision-support intelligence and a friendly user interface.
“Working with Microsoft was critical to getting us moving with this concept,” said Dave Romero, senior manager of new concepts for Circuit City. “We knew we had to create a more consistent approach to how we engaged guests in our stores, and Microsoft had the insight to show us where the industry was heading and provided knowledge and resources to move us in that direction.”
After two years of testing, learning and iterating in multiple markets, Circuit City has begun to use Tablet PCs running the EDGE application in all of its new-format stores and is seeing encouraging results:
Boosts store associate confidence, credibility and versatility. With Circuit City’s vast product line, sales associates sometimes shrank from guest encounters because they were not always confident of the answer. EDGE gives them what they need to sell or discuss any product in the store as well as any product on circuitcity.com because the mobile tool integrates online content for a seamless multichannel experience.
Allows for more satisfying guest experiences with every visit. Guests receive a more consistent experience when they interact with EDGE, which helps to improve the overall perception that the city is a unique and differentiated place to shop for consumer electronics.
Complements the new-hiring strategy in the city store format. The city has been able to expand its hiring pool and can now seek friendly associates with strong team-building and communication skills rather than searching exclusively for highly technical associates.
Influences future growth of the company. The city store format incorporates a number of new elements influenced by EDGE, including a more innovative store layout and easy-to-use technology to help guests make smarter buying decisions.
Microsoft technologies behind EDGE include Windows XP Professional Tablet Edition, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SQL Server Express, Microsoft Visual Studio and the Microsoft .NET Framework.
About Circuit City Stores Inc.
Circuit City Stores Inc. (NYSE:CC) is a leading specialty retailer of consumer electronics and related services. The domestic segment operates through 700 Superstores and nine outlet locations in 158 U.S. markets. The international segment operates through approximately 800 retail stores and dealer outlets in Canada. Circuit City also operates Web sites at www.circuitcity.com, www.thesource.ca and www.firedog.com.
About Microsoft in Retail
Microsoft’s U.S. Retail Industry Group provides software that helps empower retail’s biggest assets — its people — to make better decisions at every stage of the value chain. Microsoft software helps enable retail employees to strengthen customer relationships, build high-value business connections and improve operations by addressing key areas such as store systems, real-time analytics and supply chain management. Through a combination of Microsoft- and partner-provided solutions, retail customers enable their employees to deliver an outstanding customer experience across various channels by turning data into insight, transforming ideas into action and turning change into opportunity. More information about Microsoft’s work in the Retail industry can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/retail.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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