BY DAN YATES, LEADER-POST AUGUST 13, 2011
A company with roots in Regina is branching out into a new field.
The interactive displays at SaskTel's newly renovated store in the Cornwall Centre are made by iQmetrix, a company founded in Regina in 1999 by Christopher Krywulak.
Up until now, the company has provided retail management software for mobile phone stores. Its RQ4 program keeps a record of store data - like sales and inventory - offering marketing and analytics information to retailers. The company has grown to employ over 200 people in Canada and the U.S. - including 75 in Regina - and, according to iQmetrix, its software serves over 30 per cent of independent wireless retail locations in the U.S.
The company is now gearing up for the commercial launch of its new XQ interactive retail software in September. Where its RQ4 program is designed for use by retailers, this new program is geared toward serving the customer. Using touch screens - like the 22-inch multi-touch screens at the SaskTel store - customers will be able to sort through wireless device information. Think of it like a brochure come to life.
"It's giving you all the devices available to you at that retailer. It's showing you all the available rate plans, all of the add-ons and accessories," said Tara Filson, iQmetrix product marketing manager.
It's also about attracting and keeping customers in the store. There are many ways a retailer can display information to customers, but Filson said iQmetrix's product is different because it's interactive. Instead of waiting for service in a busy store, a customer can immediately begin to see what his or her options are. The goal is to keep customers engaged and in the store, boosting sales along the way.
Andy Tate of SaskTel said foot traffic at its Cornwall Centre store has doubled since reopening in June following renovations. The new screens were only one part of the renovation - the store itself received a significant facelift - but he said the screens do attract interest.
"It's a tool for consumers to quickly and easily get some information where before they might have had to wait around ..." he said.
SaskTel has also incorporated the XQ program into stores in Swift Current and Saskatoon. In Regina, the program is also employed at the Jump.ca location in Harbour Landing.
"Some of the feedback we've got from them is it's harder and harder for carriers and retailers to compete on price in the wireless industry, so they're focusing on customer experience," said Filson.
The program was developed over an 18-month period and is the result of a collaboration between iQmetrix's development teams at its offices in Regina and Vancouver, where the company is headquartered. It was unveiled at a trade show in Orlando in March. The Saskatchewan stores are the first to showcase the new program.
When XQ becomes available commercially, iQmetrix expects its customers to come from its existing clientele of mobile phone retailers across North America already using its RQ4 program. The two programs can integrate as XQ can pull pricing and inventory information from the other program. XQ will be sold as a monthly subscription to retailers, although that fee hasn't been set yet, said Filson.
"It's really tying that back-end operation side of the business with the frontend customer experience," she said.