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Retail at the Surface

Accenture and Avanade create a retail showcase application for Microsoft's table-like computing display.

Consulting firms Accenture and Avanade are rolling out an in-store business process application designed to run on Microsoft Surface, a 30-inch surface computing display in a table-like form factor.

The two companies announced the availability of their Retail Buying Experience with Surface solution March 11.

"Surface is a wonderful touch technology," said Dan O'Hara, executive director of solutions showcase at Microsoft for Avanade. "We put end-to-end transactions on it."

O'Hara said that leveraging Surface's touch-screen capabilities, customers can obtain relevant product data, get information about integrating components and other add-ons, and perform product comparisons.

"Customers can make more complex purchase decisions," he said. "They get a better understanding of what they purchase."

For example, he said, a customer buying a television can use the Surface application to draw a layout of their home's living room to see how a certain TV would fit.

"You attract customers, expand sales, and collect more information," O'Hara said. "You can see how a customer's living room gets laid out and explore their home environment."

He said the Surface application saves customers from having to travel from department to department to find all the products they need, and also provides them with a more seamless integration between what they experience online and in the store.

"The Surface technology is well-suited for retail," said Vahe Katros, a retail industry consultant in Palo Alto, Calif. "This is very friendly and intuitive technology with virtually no learning curve. The fact that it needs no mouse or keyboard means it can conform to the space and design limitations of retail."

Despite potentially high initial price point, Katros said retailers should investigate Surface.

"Surface will enable new applications, but these applications will require a deeper understanding of the store experience and interaction design, there will be a learning curve," he said. 

Retail Buying Experience with Surface is loaded and updated onto the Surface device remotely and run in-house by the retailer. It integrates with the retailer's POS (point of sale) and CRM (customer relationship management) systems. Avanade was jointly founded by Accenture and Microsoft.

Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, go to's Retail Site.
Source:   EWeek,

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