Meet Anna, The Bay’s New Virtual Greeter [Video]

The Globe & MailAnna is not your average store greeter, primarily because she doesn’t exist. Anna is, in fact, five-feet-eight-inches of complete virtuality.  

In an effort to curb costs, the Bay has placed Anna as the greeter in their high-end gifts section of their flagship Toronto store. Using proximity sensors, Anna will start talking to you when you pass by, and help you select items you’d like to purchase.

According to Alison Coville, a senior vice-president at the Bay, the virtual greeter is there for more than shock value. “If it gets you a couple of percentage points of [sales] increases over time because shoppers are returning to the store—or coming back and looking in other areas—it’s really more of a marketing tool than anything else.”

In the gift section alone, Ms. Coville believes Anna will raise profits by up to 15%. There is also the added benefit that Anna may draw consumers to the gift section from other Bay departments.

As with all high-end technology, there is a price attached. Created by the 4D Retail Technology Corporation, Anna cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop. However, 4D Retail Technology have kindly loaned it to the Bay in exchange for putting the system on display.

While Anna is certainly novel, it will be interested to see how Bay customers will react to the virtual greeter in the long run?  In the end, will people prefer to buy from real sales associates?