Ahead of speaking at PSFK's Future of Retail Conference on January 16, CEO Healey Cypher explains how technological solutions provider ZIVELO focuses on enabling seamless design-led digital integrations for brick-and-mortar retailers, removing friction from the customer experience to foster efficient and enjoyable shopping

As technology continues to evolve, it transforms the retail process at a fast pace, generating new consumer demands from retailers concerning their shopping experiences. Retailers can struggle sometimes to implement in-store capabilities like cashierless kiosks or mobile integrations, however, in ways that best serve their particular needs, and to avoid simply implementing tech for tech's sake.

ZIVELO is an innovator of self-service technology solutions that designs, manufactures and distributes public terminal systems to support to these retailers who wish to bring digital engagement to the point of sale. The company provides stores with expert experience and assistance to design intuitive and seamless integrations authentically incorporated into their spaces. Before taking the stage at the Future of Retail 2019 Conference next month, Healey Cypher, ZIVELO CEO, explained to PSFK how his company works to remove friction from in the in-store experience and offer technical solutions to improve it, instead of trying to reshape the customer journey around new technology.

PSFK: Starting off more broadly, what are the consumer and retail industry trends driving the work that you do? What are the transformations you're responding to?

Healey Cypher: Brick and mortar is in a period of monumental change. Connected devices have fundamentally transformed how humans expect to interact with the physical world. As brands look to provide consumers with convenience, choice and exceed their digital expectations, they are turning to self-service solutions within their physical spaces.

Remember when tons of brands thought that building bespoke mobile apps was the solution? Such an incredibly small % of folks download and used  those apps that it's proven to be a less-than-optimal solution. Bringing that same functionality to life in public-facing screens in-store bridges the gap between brand experience and customer in a way that single-brand apps have yet to solve for.

Your technology is described as as “public art with a brain.” Could you expand upon how this epitomizes your goals with self-serve kiosks and digital signage technology?

We believe in beautiful experiences authentically integrated into brick-and-mortar spaces. This means that our products are intentionally design-led, consistent with our partners' brands and often play with materials that one may not expect to be interactive. While some more obvious technology is already out in the world today (LCDs, touchscreens), we're working on a few things in our labs we're excited to share in the coming months.

You speak about the danger of using tech for the sake of tech—and emphasize that the store experience should be human and intuitive, using technology in particular ways to improve these aspects. Can you expand upon this?

First of all, it's easy as a technologist to fall in love with the TechCrunch word cloud—which is a cheeky way of saying whatever is in vogue at the moment. However, we encourage partners to think through the most common customer journeys that exist within their brands and to identify the places of friction where introducing technology might help. We work with our customers to think through the efficacy of those different investments and ensure it actually would add to the experience in an additive way.

And finally, we encourage folks to ensure whatever experiences they create are in service of the desired human experience and are not removing the humanity from experiences. Tech should remove parts of experiences that humans don't like so we can focus on the fun, impactful stuff—like interacting, exploring and creating.

We often focus on the differences between the in-store and offline experiences—but in fact, there are a lot of similarities that can mutually inform better experiences. How do you apply insights from online to improve the brick-and-mortar store?

Think of both the in-store and online experiences as a conversion funnel. Just like online thinks of each step throughout the journey (landing page > product page > cart > checkout), we think of the same for brick-and-mortar (crossing the threshold > perusing shelves > placing items into your basket > checkout).

While e-commerce specialists are hyper-vigilant about data and spend endless dollars and hours to optimize conversion, the industry has struggled to find similar data-driven efficiencies in optimizing the in-store experience. We work to identify opportunities to remove friction in the in-store experience and offer technical solutions to improve it, instead of trying to reshape the customer journey around new tech.

What insights do you have into the optimal way to use technology to enhance the shopping experience?

The role of humans in brick-and-mortar has reached an important point of bifurcation. Today we are able to optimize for repetitive, time-consuming tasks that can be automated and double-down humans' involvement with the higher-touch, highly-personal responsibilities that are essential for driving conversion. The tools that will free associates from annoyingly repetitive tasks, and empower them to provide greater service, advice and product knowledge will make associates' lives easier and generally make stores more efficient.

Can you share an example of a retailer that implemented your services and what the outcome was?

McDonald's included self-service kiosks and publicly reported seeing an average basket-size increase of 20% and impressive improvement in store-over-store comps. Payback on the investment can be measured in months.

In a nutshell, what do you intend to share with us at the Future of Retail conference?

A whole lot! Let's call it a decade plus of pioneering and life on the front-lines of retail innovation. I'll share a bit of how my journey unfolded, a framework for approaching the adoption of new technologies, important lessons learned (sometimes the hard way) and where I see the industry heading.

Could you speak about your sustainability efforts?

The ZIVELO Foundation plants trees for every kiosk we sell to offset our carbon footprint. Additionally, we design all of our hardware to be modular, offering proactive refurbishment options of specific parts and older units to reduce waste and extend the lifespan of the products we put out in the world.


ZIVELO is just one of the retail experience pioneers featured at PSFK's Future of Retail Conference—see the full list and buy tickets here for more creative insights.