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Friction Surf & Skate Innovates the Retail Experience with TelePresence Technology
December 16, 2011 | Hogan Keyser
In a sluggish economy retailer Friction Surf & Skate innovates with technology like Apple's FaceTime to bridge the gap between the convenience of online buying and the personal touch of boutique shopping.
New Smyrna Beach, Fl (PRWEB) December 15, 2011 -- Newly opened surf and skate shop, Friction (http://www.frictionsurf.com), has taken the lead on its competitors with a lean and mean technology strategy. By outfitting their staff with iPads shoppers from all over the world can use Apple's FaceTime to connect with in-store reps and browse current inventory. The use of FaceTime as an integrated part of the store is new to the retail industry and technology watchers have taken notice.
"Friction has built a system in which shoppers use Facetime tech for that in-store experience that had been lost in the new shopping paradigm. With Friction's model, there's no reason to choose between convenience and personal service; literally, consumers will be able to interact directly with the iPad2-equipped sales staff just as they would if they were in the store. I'd be willing to bet that most everyone will be using Friction's new shopping model soon. But for now, Friction is the only place to experience it, and it is an impressive experience indeed. It's one of those ideas that once you hear about it, you really wonder why you didn't come up with it first." - Hap Aziz, Tech Expert for Fox 35 Orlando, and Creative Strategist for Teaching and Learning for SunGard Higher Education
"I haven't seen any store, other than Friction, using telepresence technology as part of the retail experience" - Alison Lewis Author, TEDActive Speaker, Fast Company Top 10 Most Influential Woman in Technology 2010
"This kind of online-offline convergence has the potential to bring the human element back into shopping. That's something that has been lost in the rush to eCommerce. Phone conversations and web chats just can't replicate the experience of a real face-to-face interaction with a knowledgeable representative. I would expect to see a lot of other retailers follow Friction's lead and offer this type of hybrid shopping experience in the next 12-18 months." -Jeff Greenhouse, Social Media Commentator, Award-Winning Marketer
"Connecting virtually with real-world locations is the next big thing. What Friction is doing with Facetime and its other technology integrations is right on the cutting edge." -Julia Howe, Online Community Innovator, Mobile Technology Correspondent at AT&T Tech Channel, Stevens Institute of Technology Board of Communications
FaceTime is the just the latest use of technology in Friction's business model, which already includes QR codes on clothing racks which open custom mobile sites about product lines, videos, and coupons.
Small businesses have to be more competitive than ever and it's crucial that companies starting up in the current climate understand how to harness technology.
Friction partner and executive buyer Evan Rebadow says, "I'd been implementing social media and in-store / online connections for about a year at my other store before opening Friction. To me this is the evolution of a concept where small boutique stores like ours can compete online by offering personal interaction. It's one thing to read about a surf board on a static website, it's something completely different to be able to dial us up on your iPhone from anywhere you have service and talk to us one on one about what kind of surf you're going to be riding it in and how it performs for your skill level. It's that kind of customer experience that's missing in online sales and Friction is bridging that gap."
Friction, home store of champion surfer Jeremy Johnston, is located in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where a rich history of surfing brings tourists from around the world. That's why every rack in the store tells a different story about where the items come from.
"With our QR Codes we're able to give everyone who visits some background on smaller brands they might not have heard of. We're not a corporate store, we're a boutique, and because of that we carry big brands alongside up and coming product lines. We use our QR tags to link customers to videos and information about our products."
But it's not just product information where Friction's cutting edge ideas are taking the forefront. Managing Director Dekker Dreyer explains their short-term goals for increasing overall sales in a tourist economy.
"We use tech to solve problems. For instance when a family is on vacation luggage space is at a premium. If we have a group visiting our beach from out of state they can't buy too many products right now, but in the very near future we're going to offer our patrons the ability to buy items directly by scanning the QR codes. The orders ship right to their houses. By being smarter about the way we integrate technology we're able to make sales beyond the limit of a suitcase size. All small business owners need to think about the challenges their market faces and assess if there is software out there to meet those challenges; chances are they'll be surprised."
Friction is located at 1889 State Road 44 inside the newly opened J.J. Fin's restaurant and entertainment complex. Friction hosts regular parties and live music events along with offering lessons on the adjacent brackish private lagoon. For brand and contact information please visit http://www.frictionsurf.com.
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