Microsoft Synchronised Shopping debuts in Harvey Norman

Microsoft has launched globally a retail solution, available first in Harvey Norman, that enables consumers to make informed purchase decisions amid the myriad of options available online and offline.

Dubbed Microsoft Synchronised Shopping, the solution is aimed at simplifying the consumer journey by leveraging intelligent cloud technology. 

“Enabling great customer experiences is at the heart of our retail reimagined initiative, and this new intelligent edge solution is designed to break customer choice paralysis by providing a seamless online and in store experience,” said Ami Silverman, corporate VP at Microsoft.

Katie Page, CEO of Harvey Norman, said customers must be able to make decisions holistically, especially in a digitally connected world.

With the online proliferation of options and the anywhere/anytime nature of shopping via mobile devices, two issues plague the customer journey for consumer electronic purchasers today. First, shoppers end up delaying or even postponing a purchase because they are overwhelmed by the number of choices.

Second, they find it difficult to choose the product that best meets their needs, without conducting extensive research, and often end up buying a less-than-satisfactory device. This “choice paralysis” inspired the design of Microsoft Synchronised Shopping.

With this solution, shoppers use a customised conversational AI driven product advisor, on the Harvey Norman website, that asks a series of questions to identify their needs, then recommends devices that best meet those specific needs such as long battery life or storage capacity. 

When shoppers are in proximity of the store where the specific PCs are available, they get a phone notification, and once they enter the store are guided to the exact PCs that were recommended by the online advisor. In addition, it provides a seamless online-offline purchase journey tailored to their needs which is highly secure (and with no footprint of the user on any of the interacting devices).

Microsoft Synchronised Shopping was developed in partnership with Microsoft Gold partner Popcornapps, and is built on highly scalable Azure cloud services, progressive web-apps (PWA) and geo-location based services.

The PWA is designed to work with multiple form factors across iOS and Android devices and interacts with the devices in-store using a UWP (Universal Windows Platform) application.