Selling toys is serious business. The U.S. market for toys was $23 billion dollars in 2013, according to the Toy Industry Association. Like other retail sectors, boutique stores, such as New Jersey-based Toy Genius, must compete against the likes of big box stores and the 24×7 assault of Amazon and eBay. A VIP virtual concierge powered by WebRTC is the latest weapon in the battle to engage customers in an elite shopping experience.
Toy Genius has been in operation for five years with two brick and mortar store fronts and a third in the works – plus a forthcoming online website shopping launch. With a slogan of “Engaging Minds from 0-99,” the high-end specialty toy store offers unique educational and fun products ranging from magnetic building blocks to peddle-driven Ferrari racers. And the staff wears lab coats and has a deep knowledge of the products.
“It’s a high service, high knowledge business,” said Jeffrey Singman, CEO of visual communications firm Vizicom, the company delivering its Virtual VIP Shopping Experience platform for Toy Genius. “Virtual VIP allows sales people and expert resources to communicate via video, pushing content to users to enable an advanced and new experience. We can bring customers into the store without them being in the store. ”
Video provides a deeper and more engaging experience than traditional e-commerce and classic brick-and-mortar storefront experiences.
“Any commerce site can bring up a catalog window,” Singman says. “[Video is] an advantage in some ways over a storefront. You are not looking at the box of a product on the shelf; you are looking at the product in action.”
Singman’s vision for a VIP virtual concierge formed in 2011 but he didn’t have the tools to put it all together until he saw GENBAND’s Kandy platform and the company’s other services.
“Kandy brings up a visual slate for one-way shopping, so clients can shop in comfort,” stated Singman. “You can put them in a web app environment for streaming media and move a client through the process to check out just as if they were in the store.”
But it’s more than just WebRTC and Kandy that GENBAND brings to the table. “WebRTC is not a ubiquitous [service]. It currently runs in Chrome, Firefox, and a plug-in for Microsoft Internet Explorer. If the browser or network doesn’t allow for that customer- to- agent experience, you can fall back to other GENBAND services available in the Kandy cloud by using the phone with the user putting in the number. You’re still taking advantage of the web to see the product, surf products, buy products just like in the store.”
Customer dial back through a PSTN gateway are provided through GENBAND’s EXPERiUS applications server via the cloud, along with other GENBAND cloud services available through access to Kandy. Other features include access to the SPiDR WebRTC gateway, video optimization, and the ability to adjust a call flow.”
“It isn’t just WebRTC, it’s WebRTC Plus,” Singman said. “I’m using EXPERiUS cloud services all through one platform… I have access to all the features of the individual products built for the carrier market and can now take advantage of that as a smaller entrepreneurial business.”
While there are many WebRTC services available, Singman selected GENBAND for the Virtual VIP platform because of its linage of providing carrier grade solutions, access to all of GENBAND’s cloud services via Kandy that are only typically offered to carrier customers, and the partnership established between it and Vizicom.
“I really want to drive home the partnership,” said Singman. “They’ve taken feedback and made modifications to their platform based on our experience both from a development standpoint and our customer feedback being in the marketplace selling the application. I’ve got a partner that’s big, but is also nimble. It comes from Kandy agility and the larger organization of GENBAND.”