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Social media influencer, Bobby Tonelli, tries out Microsoft Synchronized Shopping in Singapore.

Beating choice paralysis

Too many choices? There’s a smart new way to shop for your next PC

Singapore hosts the world’s first Microsoft Synchronized Shopping trial 

It’s time to buy a new PC – either online or from a computer store. It’ll be simple, right?

Well, maybe not. There are so many models and brands out there, and so many features, sizes, weights, colors, options, and specs to consider. 

You start to struggle with the pros and agonize over the cons of each PC. After all, you don’t want to fork out hard-earned cash for something that doesn’t meet your needs. If you do buy today, will you have buyer’s remorse tomorrow? 

You’re confused. So you procrastinate. Maybe you need more time to do more research. Maybe you should just log off or walk out. 

Experts in retail research call this choice paralysis: The more choices that are available, the harder it is for consumers to select a device that meets their needs.

It’s frustrating for both customers and sellers. In this age of overwhelming choice, it is clear that customers and retailers alike would benefit from new shopping experiences. 

And, now there is a new way to make searching for and buying, a new PC a much better experience: Microsoft Synchronized Shopping.

The first place in the world to experience it in action is Singapore – a great shopping city that is renowned for embracing innovation. Electronics retailer, Harvey Norman, is hosting a Microsoft Synchronized Shopping pilot at its Millennial Walk flagship store. This is how it works:

Go to the Harvey Norman website and click on the “Find Your Perfect Device” button. An online smart assistant tool asks a quick series of simple questions about lifestyle, work, study, budget, and brand preference. For example:

Are you someone who needs to be productive on the go? Check out these devices with lots of processing power and 12-plus hours of battery life.

• Maybe you’re a student with an active social life? Consider these five laptops that are fast and light.

Once it knows your expectations and needs, the assistant comes up with a shortlist of potentially suitable devices – just for you. 

Use your smartphone to find a recommended PC in a crowded showroom.
Use your smartphone to find a recommended PC in a crowded showroom.

To see them in person, just click on the blue “shopper pass” button. This shows you where the devices will be on display. And you can scan a QR code that saves all the information you need in your mobile wallet. 

• The next time you are in the vicinity of the Harvey Norman store, your phone reminds you to pop in for a look.

• Once inside, a distinct blue hexagon symbol appears on your phone screen. The showroom is big with scores of products on display. But it’s easy to spot your recommended device as the very same blue hexagon symbol lights up on the device screen.

• You look it over, tap the keyboard, weigh it up for size, and generally play around with it.

• If you decide you want to see more options, another recommended device will show up with another symbol on your phone. There’s no extra pressure, just more choices.

Katie Page, Chief Executive Officer of Harvey Norman, has high hopes for the initiative. 

Customers must be able to make decisions holistically, especially in a digitally connected world. This has always guided how we curate our assortment of offerings, and it now shapes how we look at connecting online and offline channels seamlessly for our customers. Synchronized Shopping is a major step in the right direction to help all of us live this ‘connected life.’ I am excited to see the results of this pilot run, and we will continue to improve on and expand this experience.”

Microsoft's Ami Silverman (left) and Katie Page, Chief Executive Officer of Harvey Norman.
Microsoft’s Ami Silverman (left) and Katie Page, Chief Executive Officer of Harvey Norman.

Ami Silverman, Corporate Vice President for Worldwide Sales, Consumer & Device Sales Division, Microsoft Corp., sees it as a way of putting consumers first. 

“The experience of shopping for a new consumer device should be enjoyable and exciting for all of us,” she says.

“We needed a way to help customers find their way through the maze of choices and arrive at a device that was right for them. Microsoft Synchronized Shopping marks the first of many innovative solutions that we and our partners will bring to market to transform the retail journey. It is fitting that we would pilot this in Singapore, a country that is known for its incredible shopping, at Harvey Norman’s flagship store on the Millenia Walk.”  

To reimagine the future of device sales in retail stores, Microsoft worked with one of its gold partners, PopcornApps, which specializes in digital transformation services.

The experience of shopping for a new consumer device should be enjoyable and exciting for all of us.

Its founder and chief operating officer, Girish Avantsa, describes Microsoft Synchronized Shopping as a “phygital customer experience that bridges the gap between digital and physical retailing.”

“It is an immersive experience of browsing, comparing, and selecting a device that makes an overwhelming task seem simple,“ he says. 

Let’s leave the last word to Singapore-based tech enthusiast, host and actor, Bobby Tonelli, who recently had a test run: “Nowadays it can be daunting to buy a new laptop or PC because of the specs and the features. Microsoft Synchronized Shopping makes the process so much simpler.” 

Read the press release here or watch the video here.