When major customers walk into a Circuit City location, CIO Mike Jones
wants to whisper customized sales pitches into their earsliterally.
Jones's scenario is simple: As customers walk into the store, they receive
a very light wireless headset. As they walk through the store, the device
uses sensors to learn where the customer is. When the customer stops in a
certain area, the headset can explain items, present audio from a TV
demonstration and potentially even connect the customer live with a
centralized sales assistant. In theory, that sales assistant might be 2,000
miles awayassuming no one in that store is available.
The headphone helper is just one of several non-traditional ideas that
Jones is trying to push through the $10 billion retail chain's corporate
structure. As senior vice president and CIO, Jones knows how much of a
structure the chain's 1,648 U.S. and Canadian locations pose.
"The consumer marketplace today is very much a polarizing place. You have
to decide where you want to play, and we are not going to win on price," he
said. He reasons that radically improving customer experience is mandatory,
especially when selling products thatfor the most partare also offered by
their largest competitors.