I’m sure this will get lost as ancient history behind more immediately relevant readings, but I thought I would finish a thought I had from Thursday’s class here on the blog.
On Thursday, we did a case study of the Cisco fashion vision video <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDi0FNcaock>. The majority of the discussion was focused on the buyer and their particular interaction with the device. However, during the discussion of the ideal user, the primary audience for this product was not clear. It was suggested that a tech savvy young adult would fit best. However, I believe that the primary audience for this product is not the buyer or store clerk, but rather the store.
There are really two artifacts being shown here: the fashion device and Cisco network hardware (which is not seen). I will provide evidence that both the network’s and device’s primary audience is the store, not the buyer. I believe that the reason the discussion Thursday developed the way it did is because the most visible users for these artifacts are the buyer and store clerk. I’ll focus on some of the critical aspects of the buyer’s interaction, sales clerk’s interaction, and Cisco’s products and relate them to the store’s benefits.
The ideal buyer is somewhat ambiguous for this device. Non-tech savvy individuals of all ages would find this technology difficult to use in practice. If you watch the video again, you’ll notice that the hand-picked girl is unclear about how to act in all situations. The complexity of gestures and assistance needed to use the device would be counter productive and potentially frustrating to use. The most ideal buyer would be a tech savvy trendy young adult according to the video and our discussion. However, is this audience also the audience that is buying clothes? It happens that this is only a small intersection of the population. I’m not sure any clothes store caters to that audience consistently (please let me know otherwise), but it may be an audience that the store is trying entice to try their products. As we will see, this device would entice all customers categories, even if the ideal buyers were the only users of this device.
An artifact of this type is less intended as a complete makeover to the clothes purchasing process. Since the usability of the clothes is unable to be evaluated by this artifact, the user will still need to explore the clothes away from this device. However, a store could use the novelty factor of this interaction to entice customers to their store. The motions of the buyers using this device are likely to draw visual attention of other customers. While this may be a concern for customers without an ideal body type, this will get the attention of anyone walking outside and potentially entice them into the store. Even if a small population was inclined to use the device, a much larger audience could be drawn in by the use of the device. For a store, any visitor is a potential buyer.
Thus, the device develops the brand of the store as well. Adopters of this technology would have a visible interaction difference from other stores. This mirrors the store’s current distinctions as well, since the store was a boutique style store and not a Walmart. A store that had this device would have an edge over its competitors, even if the device was subpar at allowing users to better purchase clothes.
During the user experience, it was noted that this device only allowed a user to evaluate their final look and not usability – feel, fit, ect. This suggests that the device is designed for pushing the final appearance to users. Thus, it appears to be doing the job of a salesman or as a tool to help sell products rather than allow a user to make a complete judgment about the product. As a store, I’m most interested in making a sale. This is further exemplified in the onscreen menu as well, with the buy “button” located near all the onscreen information.
The store clerk can best be described as a secondary audience for this product. I don’t think anyone would contest this claim. Not only does the device demand a significant time investment to interact with each individual customer, but it also does not engage this user. The primary benefit to this audience is supporting rapport with the buyer. The network technology adds the on-hand seamless checkout experience; however, this is not a substitute but an alternative to other checkout methods specific to this device that would be in the store.
However, stores could change how their store clerks work in this environment. With this device and a seamless network, employees can be focused less on refolding clothes and checking stock for sizes. This reduces the number of employees needed at a given time. Furthermore, if a store has separated their training for cashiers and salesman, this technology would allow them combine this training for all of their floor employees. Using these products would allow a store to reduce the number of employees and reduce employee skill set diversity.
Cisco is a company with products in network and network design. We’re not talking about products like in the video, but rather routers and servers. The design put into this fashion device means one of two possibilities: Cisco is expanding into other technology markets or Cisco is demonstrating to untapped markets the potential of their existing products (the lacking market being clothing stores). I feel that this was geared towards the latter. The clothes buying process is still a low-fidelity process. Cisco would be interested in converting the clothes industry to be a technology-based industry to create a dependence on their produces and services. Regardless of what technologies they adapt, Cisco would potentially benefit from a greater reliance on technology.
The title of the video also suggests that this is not a current product, but a vision of a possible future, one that the company supports. Its not a physical product but a message to an underrepresented audience for their products.
Some may say this is commentating on how buyers should shop or this is more efficient for the shopper; however, I believe that this would be a misinterpretation. If we follow these thoughts, technology in our culture has been very focused on efficiency. This harmonizes most with the store level. More specifically, the integration of different technologies would create greater efficiency through reduced employee demands and a closer connection from evaluation to sale. So the vision Cisco is supporting isn’t the fashion screen or the checkout tablet, but rather the integration of all the store’s devices.
As was said Thursday, the fashion device is a glorified online shopping interface in an actual store. While the buyer and store clerk are more visible users, the store benefits most from the design put into both the device and the supporting network.
Feel free to let me know what you think. I think I’ve convinced myself 85% that this is true, but I’m sure there are some critical oversights I’ve made.