To help its sales force better support customers, multimedia and domestic electronics products retailer Boulanger worked with Microsoft Services to test a Windows 8 mobile solution in two of its stores. Within two months, Microsoft Services developed
an application that connects the specific requirements of Boulanger to the capabilities and ergonomics of Windows 8 tablets.
Based in Lesquin, France, retailer Boulanger positions itself around the concepts of discovery, use, and fun, and seeks to deliver innovation in both its business strategy and its products. Boulanger wants its customers to fully enjoy the benefits made
available by technological advancements.
As a major player in the distribution of multimedia products and home electronics, Boulanger feels that it is of utmost importance to be in sync with new technologies and with the expectations of customers, whose purchasing behavior and product knowledge get
more precise each day. For Boulanger, this means developing a strategy involving multiple interconnected channels.
||In Windows 8, we found the only product that could make possible a simple and highly secure connection to our information system and to the data that is indispensable to our sales associates.
| Patrick Perret
Director of Computer Research, Boulanger
Various internal evaluations at Boulanger revealed the need to deliver the latest mobility tools to the sales force, both to satisfy customer requirements (enjoy a common purchasing experience) and the needs of the sales force (access to richer, more inclusive,
and more dynamic information). But three questions still needed to be answered: Is the customer experience better with in-store mobile solutions? Can sales performance be improved? Also, could tablet PCs be adapted to the needs of the in-store sales force
(with regard to size, lost units, batteries, luminosity, and so on)? The solution would also need to efficiently interface with the company’s existing information system. Boulanger wanted to create a sales assistance tool that would answer all its questions.
Boulanger decided to try to find the answers to its questions by testing the capabilities of the Windows 8 operating system. Why did the company choose Windows 8? First, because the touch-enabled experience and truly mobile convenience of the tablet
PC make it a tool of choice for its sales associates. Boulanger also liked the compatibility of Windows 8 with existing solutions in the company and portability to different devices. “Any other operating system would stick out like a sore thumb in our information
system,” says Patrick Perret, Director of Computer Research at Boulanger.
A visit to the Microsoft Business Innovation Center at Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, offered an opportunity to solve some of the company’s questions. Boulanger found that its meetings at the center with Microsoft Services were a true catalyst for ideas. ”We
discovered a full spectrum of solutions for our activity sector, which gave us many ideas,” says Perret.
Boulanger decided to create a two-month plan to develop a proof-of-concept pilot project using Windows 8 and to test its usability under real conditions in two stores with about 30 sales associates. That was in mid-September 2012. ”I wanted the application
to be in operation by early November. The resources committed by Microsoft and by us were appropriate; I felt that the project was perfectly thought through,” says Perret.
The Microsoft Services Support team shared with the company its highly specialized expertise in productivity tools in mobility contexts, ergonomics, and the user experience, and then personalized it for the company’s vision: “The Microsoft Services team showed
early on that it understood our components and how to integrate them,” says Emmanuel Gabet, Project Manager at Boulanger. “Our Microsoft Services team also quickly understood our business needs: it successfully and perfectly linked our store expectations and
Windows 8 features.”
“Within 10 minutes of taking on the project, they went further than we could ever have imagined,” says Gabet. “They took complete control of the tool, up to the “snap-screen” function, which allowed them to split the screen between two applications and to view
the Boulanger offerings side-by-side with a competing offering on the Internet, for example. This functionality was implemented in just a couple of hours—additional evidence of the flexibility of Windows 8.”
Before deploying the solution to its 2,500 sales associates in the group, Boulanger plans an initial assessment of its use in the two test stores. Three facets will be evaluated: the perception of the sales force, the perception of customers, and the quantitative
results for sales. Whatever the results, the project is already a success, thus confirming both the capacity of Microsoft Services to advise its customers on the most advanced issues and the ability of Boulanger to fulfill its promise to deliver innovation.
Boulanger finds the Windows 8 solution to be stable and easy to use, and it helps it to fulfill the Boulanger commitment to offer its customers a unique experience.
Streamlined Support Experience
The two-month project was marked by a very high degree of flexibility in the interactions between the teams at Boulanger and Microsoft Services. From the mock-ups produced “live” during the first workshops through the packaged deployment of Windows 8
and of the solution for the sales force, communications were extremely well managed. Upon delivery to the store, updates were made within the same day.
Improved Sales Performance
Using the Windows 8 solution, Boulanger sales associates can now present products in the store using all the functionalities that they had hoped for in the solution.
With access to product descriptions and characteristics and associated services, to information about in-store availability in a local network or by order, to reviews by Internet users, sales associates now will be able to respond immediately with informed
answers to questions from customers.
Easy to Implement and Expand
The new mobility solution was deployed rapidly with minimum impact on the company’s network infrastructure. All that was required was the addition of a middleware server in each store.
In the future, Boulanger plans to make the Windows 8 tablet the only workstation for its sales associates. This will allow sales people to extend the support provided to the client all the way up to the register and access all the customer’s past purchases.
They will also be able to access internal tools, product training, HR, or even to share best practices with each other through a social network function. This will rely on an evolving code that can even be transferred to other devices.
”In Windows 8, we found the only product that could make possible a simple and highly secure connection to our information system and to the data that is indispensable to our sales associates,” says Perret.
Microsoft Services is a global team of professionals who are dedicated to helping customers maximize the value of their investment in Microsoft software. Microsoft Services touches customers more than 715 million times a year, helping them plan, deploy, support,
and optimize our technologies. They also work closely with Microsoft Partners by sharing their technological expertise and product knowledge on a regular basis.
For more information about Microsoft Services, go to: