Window shopping that works

For most retailers, window shopping means lost opportunities – customers who look but don’t buy. But what if there was a way to turn window shopping into actual sales? The latest generation of in-store technology allows shoppers to do exactly that – make a purchase without ever going inside.

That may sound counter-intuitive. After all, the whole point of a traditional window display is to showcase what’s on offer and entice customers to come into the shop. But there are three problems with this approach.

First, what if the shop is shut? Customers see an item they like, but they can’t actually make a purchase. They have to remember to come back later, or else go online and try to buy the item via your Website. Most of the time, they’ll either forget, or they’ll end up going to a competitor. That’s a lost sales opportunity.

Or maybe the shop’s open, but the customer is too busy. They don’t have the time to come in, find the item, and wait in line to pay. So, they leave, and once again forget or go elsewhere.

And lastly, a window can only showcase a very small percentage of what’s available inside. The chances are that you’re not displaying what the customer is looking for.

Here’s where technology can change the game.


Ombori Window is a smart interactive screen that was developed for Clas Ohlson’s new concept store in Stockholm last year. It’s placed in the store window, and is active 24/7, even when the store is closed. In idle mode it displays static or video content like a traditional screen, but when it detects a customer looking at it, the screen wakes up and goes into interactive mode.

At this point, a customer can take control of the screen by using their phone while standing in the street. The controls are super simple: a QR code is used to start the process, and then they can flick their phone left and right or tap buttons to swipe products on display. This gives it what we call stopping power – the power to make someone literally stop and look. Even if they choose not to interact, they can’t help noticing that you’re there, and it draws them into the store.

It’s also great for attracting crowds. First one person starts using the screen, then others stop to see what they’re doing and how they’re making it work. And, if people are having fun, they’ll tell their friends. In other words, your store window is no longer passive: it’s actively engaging customers and getting them involved with your brand.

The smart screen offers many features that can’t be done with traditional displays. Because the content is digital, you can showcase many more products and options than you can fit in the window – effectively giving the customers access to the same product range as your whole Web site. And you’re not constrained to simply showing the products themselves: you can show videos, spec sheets, and more.

When the customer finds something they want to buy, the screen can offer them a huge range of options. They can make a purchase immediately via their mobile phone, and either collect their item in-store right away, come back to pick it up later, or have it shipped like an online order – even if the store’s closed. They can even buy items that aren’t in stock.

Ombori Window can also offer incentives to make an online purchase or go into the store by offering customers coupons and instant deals, or getting them to sign up for promotional emails. This creates opportunities for upselling as well as encouraging store visits. It’s like having a sales person in your window actively engaging with every passer by.

If they’re not yet ready to make a purchase, you can increase the chance of making a sale later by letting them download product information to their phone. This helps them remember the items they saw and makes it more likely that they’ll come back to you rather than go to a competitor.

Of course, there’s still an important role for traditional displays of products, such as mannequins, posters, and shelves filled with top selling items. But with technology, your store window can become a 24/7 sales tool, combining the best of physical and digital commerce techniques. Whether you’re open or closed, devices like Ombori Window can enable potential customers to become aware of what you do, to become engaged with your brand, to research your products, to receive marketing information and offers, and to make a purchase – all without actually going into the store.

Window shopping does not have to be lost revenue opportunity. It can be a revenue generator.

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