The Digital Store Assistant helps your customers to buy and to stay longer with your services

Sirte Pihlaja
CEO, Customer Experience Optimiser

Ahoy marketing people, it’s time for you to get ready for something new: the competition on customers’ attention has moved to totally new channels and enjoys a renewed zest. The Internet of Things (IoT) a.k.a. the Industrial Internet brings forth new business opportunities in various industries. For marketing, it means that customer encounters can be much smarter than before.

When you last visited the hardware store, did you spend more time on trying to find a free sales guy (or any sales guy for that matter) than taking care of your actual need? Were you disappointed, when you went to your favourite clothes store with high hopes and having shared your whole life with the company online, only to find out that none of the sales personnel offline knew anything about your preferences, nor the latest garment you bought on their eCommerce site? Does it disturb you when you go to a shop, and learn that the sales crew knows less about the products and services they are offering than you do yourself? Do you have trouble finding what you came to look for?

Sound familiar? Many customers know already when entering a store, what they have come to look for. Others would like to be inspired and get new ideas. Quite a few are shopping with the very intention to buy something. However, when you are in a shop, it often feels that no one wants to help you spend your money. We can only guess at how many euros are left in shoppers’ pockets, because they are met with such indifference. A major growth in additional sales could well be within easy reach, if companies understood better their customers’ motives and would serve them in a more personalised fashion.

This could all be changed. The Internet of Marketers enables a truly modern, real-time channel to support sales. A Digital Store Assistant can be built upon the smartphone or a keychain in the pocket of the shopper, a tablet used by the store personnel in a customer encounter, or even a smart sticker on the back of a product, launching a promotional video on a digital screen, as the customer takes a closer look at it.

The ability that all of these media have in common, is that – together with the right application – they can be used to understand, which customer moves where and what she may be interested in. Based on this information, they can help her by delivering contextual information, taking into account her own motivations and preferences, to support purchasing decisions. Moreover, the digital store assistant is always equally ready to help everyone who enters the store (no queuing), and she doesn’t suffer ”bad days” that affect the level of customer service. All of this happens, naturally, only with the customer’s consent, so they don’t feel pushy either.

Small investment, big commercial benefits

These cheap small devices, so-called beacons, enable real-time marketing, when installed into a physical space. They identify the phone or other compatible device in the customer’s purse and send to it – or any other device connected to the ecosystem – marketing content that can be either pre-planned or customised on-the-fly. These messages can be product information, videos, coupons, promotions, and various other triggers, depending on the distance, position and timing. The aim is to provide relevant content that speaks to the customer and entices her to buy either right away or on her next visit.

In the USA, real-time marketing has been about for a while now. Big retailers, shopping malls and e.g. ballparks have been running their respective pilots. The market is now ready to move on from the trial period of in-context marketing to full-blown commercialization, and the results seem promising.

According to a survey published in October, 57% of US smartphone owners know what beacons are and what they are used for. A fifth had already been enjoying them while shopping. BI Intelligence estimates that between years 2015 and 2016, the value of US in-store retail sales influenced by beacon-triggered messages will explode by nearly 1 000 %: from 4 billion euros to 43,25 billion euros (from $4,1 billion to $44,4 billion). 

Take charge of your customer’s journey

The benefits and uses of real-time marketing messages are not limited to in-store sales: they can be used for example to gamify different events and offer visitors in sports arenas, museums, amusement parks, hotels, restaurants and travellers with exciting, important and timely information along their customer journey.

Best of all, if and when companies combine real-time marketing with Voice of Customer practices, i.e. genuine listening to the customer at the right time in their purchasing process, they can be sure to win the hearts of their customers.

Are you already helping your customers to buy and stay longer? Have you offered to make yourself a part of your loyal customers’ everyday, by making it easier and more stimulating? Would you like to serve better your new customers, in order to engage them to make another visit? Meet your customers on their own terms, and you will sell more before you know it.


Interested? Read more at and

Sirte Pihlaja is the CEO, Customer Experience Officer of the first customer experience agency in Finland. She also leads the activities of the international Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) in Finland. At Shirute, Sirte helps her client companies create great customer experiences with creative, well-proven methods – when she is not helping her own clients to engage with their customers.

Want to know more?

Join our Voice of Customer training to understand your real-time marketing opportunities!



Do you want to hear more about our new concepts for more succesful marketing? Please get in touch!


For more information:

CEO  Sirte Pihlaja, tel. +358 (0)50 5700 190

The Global #1 Best-Selling Business Book Customer Experience 2 Is a Shiny Example of the ‘New Normal’

Customer Experience 2 tops the charts as the #1 best selling book on Amazon e.g. in the “Customer Service” and “Consumer Behaviour” categories in multiple countries (USA, UK, Canada and France, etc), making the co-authors Best Selling Authors on three continents. Sirte Pihlaja, the CEO of Shirute, is a Finnish CX/EX expert, who has been evangelising CX all over the world during the last 25+ years. Her passion is using creative methodologies in creating great CX and EX. That is why she wrote about customer-centric culture and on the Role of Play in Business.


Does your company need a little shape up in customer experience management? We win over hearts and make your customers happy. We know how to inspire people to buy, engage and recommend! Let’s start running together to become a customer champion!


sales (at )


sales (at)

Order newsletter