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Smart Cities: Bringing City Centres To Life With Digital Advice

Stationary retail and branches in German cities continue to lose their attractiveness. The credit insurer Euler Hermes expects the list of fashion retailers who have to open bankruptcy proceedings to become even longer in the coming months. But also many banks, insurance companies, and health insurances will not reopen their branch offices in the cities. Digital advisory services can develop new sales channels to help revitalize inner towns and shopping centers with unique shopping experiences.

The corona pandemic is accelerating the deaths of shops and branches: stationary trade is losing customers, but online shopping baskets are becoming increasingly full. Retailers who have linked online and offline sales structures in good time get off lightly. City marketing managers have known for a long time that there is a lot of catching up in urban pedestrian zones to keep them attractive in the future.

The better integration of living, working, and leisure is gaining in importance. At the same time, the offer for visitors and residents must be digital, interactive, and therefore attractive. The digitization specialists of the Innovation Alliance, a competence network for digitization projects, offer individualized solutions for this: communication solutions via video, Chat, and audio can make a meaningful contribution to urban development.

The Accessible Online Shop

A Look Into Practice: To link stationary retail spaces with e-commerce channels and mobile shopping, retailers can use the software platform “ePOS” (electronic point of sale). The standardized omnichannel platform brings together product and customer data that are required for an integrated shopping experience. This creates intelligent sales rooms that innovatively interlink the real and virtual world.

Example: A customer discovers an advertisement for a jacket that they like. Via the shop’s app, he sees that the coat is available around the corner. But he has a question about the material. He can call the store and ask his question using a voice and video call function integrated into the app. If the answer is satisfactory, he decides to go to the store and try on the jacket the next day. You can already see the corresponding jacket in the shop window.

A personal price is displayed for the customer via QR code or beacon and app – the jacket then costs just 119 euros instead of 139. The customer tries on the jacket marked with an RFID chip in the changing room. The interactive mirror fades in other colors of the model at the customer’s request. If the customer decides to buy, he goes to the “till” and pays like in an online shop. The application enables a continuous, cross-channel customer journey – whereby the boundaries between the physical and virtual point of sale are blurring. The advantage: All touchpoints (on average, there are 19) with the customer, such as mobile apps, advice by phone, video, and chat as well as CRM and CMS systems as well as payment solutions and logistics systems come together in the software and communicate with each other. Video and chat, CRM and CMS systems, payment solutions, and logistics systems come together in the software and communicate with each other. Video and chat, CRM and CMS systems, payment solutions, and logistics systems come together in the software and communicate with each other.

Comprehensive Advice With Video Solutions

With video solutions, retailers and service providers can present their offers in cities attractively and interactively. Soundproofed, video booths offer not only space for individual consultations but also legally secure contracts. When entering the cabin, the customer is automatically connected to an employee of the service center via video.

Both the customer advisor and the customer can view documents and discuss them together. The cabins can be set up permanently or as pop-up solutions in city centers, shopping centers, or free shops. Service companies such as insurers, banks, health insurance companies, car dealerships, or furniture stores open up the opportunity to generate additional business and pick up users where they need help and advice.

Digital Banking Advice Arrives

Banks are already using collaborative, barrier-free video solutions across Germany. You work without artificial language assistants; Customers can see their customer advisor in the service center of the bank branch in real-time. »Around 250 consultation processes, including revision-proof legitimation, can be mapped via the video solution. As a mobile application, we have developed an app in addition to the video solution.

This means that the service can also be used on smartphones, tablets, or laptops from home or on the go,” says Frank Nagel, Managing Director of xevIT GmbH. xevIT is a solution provider and advises on how and which processes can be mapped per branch. In some bank branches, the banks share the infrastructure of the advisory booth with other service providers, such as the municipal energy provider or the citizens’ office. This creates additional synergy effects.

Take Care Of Administrative Visits Virtually

In addition, municipalities, cities, and other public administrations can establish different forms of digital advice to get in touch with their citizens and increase the town’s attractiveness. The already overloaded citizens’ offices had to further reduce their capacities due to Corona-related measures. Due to the minimum distances, in some residents’ registration offices, only half of the desks can be occupied, or the employees are completely in the home office.

This leads to long waiting times, missed appointments, and processing stops. The solution: virtual consulting options based on a software solution that is individually tailored to the municipality. To do this, the user goes to the website of the respective city, where he gets an overview of the respective areas and the separate opening times of the virtual offices. If the office is closed, he can arrange a virtual consultation. If the office is open, he can see whether a chair is currently free or whether he has to dial into the virtual waiting area.

This waiting area is similar to the principle of drawing a waiting number on site. The user sees how many participants are waiting in front of him – as soon as the clerk has time, he grants the user access to the virtual consultation hour. This waiting area is similar to the principle of drawing a waiting number on site. The user sees how many participants are waiting in front of him – as soon as the clerk has time, he grants the user access to the virtual consultation hour. This waiting area is similar to the principle of drawing a waiting number on site. The user sees how many participants are waiting in front of him – as soon as the clerk has time, he grants the user access to the virtual consultation hour.

This technology has been in use in the Regensburg district for several months. “We were the first municipality in Germany to install the software in the Regensburg district office. The solution offers many advantages for both citizens and employees. Both parties communicate with one another in a user-friendly way, and employees can also do their work in the home office, «says Markus Leitner, branch manager of the Regensburg location of SWS Computersysteme AG.

Easy To Use

The operation of digital consulting solutions does not require in-depth IT expertise. An IT service provider usually takes over the structure and the adaptation. The ease of use of the answers is vital for acceptance within the user groups. »The digital advice options are intended to address as broad a segment of the population as possible, from young to old.

That is why we consciously rely on innovative and simple solutions and develop individual, feasible digitization solutions as part of the Innovation Alliance,” says Frank Dittmar, Business Development Manager at Pan Dacom Networking AG. When it comes to implementation, individual solutions must meet the needs of operators and users. Not only do city marketing and retail benefit from this approach – but customers are also looking forward to new and innovative shopping and consulting experiences.

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