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Tensator World News

Tensator Virtual Assistant bags more sales for Grafton centre retailers

12. September 2014 14:20

Back in June, we installed the very first Tensator Virtual Assistant in a shopping centre, at the Grafton in Cambridge. Here, centre manager Lance Stanbury explains the impact that it has had.

We decided that the unit should be located in the main hall of the centre, close to the entrances of some of our largest stores. There, it has been interacting with customers, answering common questions and providing details of in-store offers. 

Having been in the centre for just over two months, the Tensator Virtual Assistant Ultra has already produced positive results for the Grafton and our retailers. 

We’ve seen a strong cross-section of groups using the unit and listening to the information it gives. It has been particularly good at attracting younger shoppers to engage directly with it and ask questions using the control panel. 

One of our major anchor stores has used the Tensator Virtual Assistant to promote free coffee for customers, whilst another offered free bags of cosmetics with purchases and had around 40 redemptions.

Meanwhile, one of our major restaurants offered diners 20 per cent off their food bill if they quoted a code given by the character. Again, approximately 40 people took up the offer.”

We know that the Tensator Virtual Assistant has become a familiar sight in airtransport hubs and exhibitions. However, we’re very proud that this was the first to be installed in a UK shopping centre – befitting Cambridge’s nickname as the ‘Silicone Fen’ because of the technology industry based around here.

Today, customers are demanding more technological development in stores, so solutions like the Tensator Virtual Assistant are able to create a much more immersive and enhanced shopping experience to the benefit of both visitors and retailers.

Lance Stanbury is centre manager at the Grafton shopping centre in Cambridge.

Tensator Reports Continued Growth; Expands Next Generation Technology Service Partnership with AST to Support Market Penetration

08. September 2014 14:18

BAY SHORE, NY and DAYTON, OH—September 8, 2014Tensator, the world leader in queue management and customer journey solutions, today announced that as a result of the increased adoption of its next generation queue management technology solutions, it has expanded its relationship with Advanced Services Technologies, LLC (AST), a leading Retail Field Service Company. AST has over 3200 technicians throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Hawaii that service Fortune 500 retail companies and high end boutiques.  With this expanded partnership, Tensator continues to build out the service arm for the company; the two companies are currently working together on 11 new, Tier 1 retail and government customer engagements.

AST Support Services for Tensator clients now include:

  • Project roll out, service calls, move add change
  • Staging and Integration
  • New store construction, relocations, remodels
  • Installation, service and ongoing maintenance
  • Structured wiring, low voltage cabling, voice – data
  • Wired / wireless networks, access points, intrusion prevention, CCTV
  • Queue management / Digital Signage
  • Inventory management, depot services

“We are happy to expand our field service partnership agreement with AST to support the growing demand for our product range,” said Bill Vetter, SVP and GM, Tensator, Inc. “AST’s trained field service representatives have always exceeded our customer expectations and we are now available to further maximize our customer’s investments in Tensator’s leading technology solutions - quickly and cost-effectively.”

“This partnership is the perfect fit for Advanced Service Technologies,” said Jerry Abner, President and CEO, Advanced Service Technologies. “Retailers continue their search for ways to increase productivity, cut costs, and increase sales.  When you can supply all 3 in a seamless fashion, you’re really on to something. Tensator’s next- generation digital signage and integration solutions are world class.  We’re excited about working with an organization so quality driven.”  

To learn more about the joint partnership please contact sales@tensator.com.

About Advanced Service Technologies, LLC

Advanced Service Technologies is a leading Retail Field Service Company. Headquartered in the greater Dayton, OH area, Advanced Service Technologies' 50,000 square foot Staging and Integration Facility enables it to offer unprecedented design capabilities, implementation support, and a wide range of technology-based solutions for its clients.  The company’s commitment to flexibility and dedication to innovation provide its professional, highly certified staff the ability to create custom solutions that solve clients' information technology challenges. Clients served include Fortune 500 companies, as well as mid-market clients. AST helps its clients realize their business goals and objectives by simplifying complexities, increasing productivity and reducing costs. For additional information please contact sales@astservice.com.

About Tensator  

Tensator is a recognized leader in the management of the customer journey. The company offers a large range of digital media platforms, electronic and virtual queue management, display and signage products, crowd and access control solutions, in-queue merchandising, self-service systems, and the Tensabarrier®, one of the most respected barrier in the world. Tensator empowers blue chip retailers, international airport terminals, transport providers, financial institutions, major exhibition, leisure and entertainment venues, construction sites, restaurants and hotels to speed customer flow through the queue, improving operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Tensator helps eliminate lost revenues through walk-aways and drives high value impulse sales with its range of queue management solutions. Visit www.tensator.com for more information, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.


All trademarks, trade names, service marks, and logos referenced herein belong to their respective companies.

Passenger Journey Innovation Takes Off -- Tensator Crew Heads to ACI-NA Conference and Expo in Atlanta

05. September 2014 17:29

Join us at Tensator's Booth #230 this September 7-10 at the ACI-NA Conference and Expo in Atlanta.Our "flight crew" will be on hand to answer all your questions about how our proven queue management solutions -- from interactive next generation digital signage to cutting edge queueing innovations -- can help you significantly increase passenger journey satisfaction/safety and realize greater efficiencies.

Recognized by Fast Company as one of "The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Travel"-Tensator solutions are deployed in leading shops, airlines and airports around the world -- from Heathrow, Dubai International, Frankfurt  to Boston Logan Airport and many more. We earned our trusted reputation for the valuable role our Tensator Virtual Assistants have taken on at airports -- speaking in multiple languages, answering passengers' questions about security, flight and gate locations, and providing overall airport navigation -- even offering new product information - round the clock - freeing up airline staff and security teams, as well as retail staff to focus on critical and important responsibilities.

Come learn how we can help you:

  • Increase Communication and Advertising Channels - Tensator helps direct passengers efficiently through airports via our next generation digital signage and interactive way finding/guidance systems; we optimize communication of both security information procedures and promotional messaging. Where time is of the essence -- we help ensure passengers make the most out of the time they have to shop at airport retail outlets with efficient queue management and virtual queuing systems to help airport retailers increase their revenue streams.
  • Speed Passenger Journey Times and Increase Satisfaction levels - Tensator’s products are proven to speed queue flow and maximize efficiencies at ticket offices, check-in, security screening & immigration areas within airports, which in turn reduces passenger waiting time, frustration and anxieties.
  • Protect Passengers - Tensator ensures that the passenger journey can be safely managed with cost-effective 'Access Control' solutions, whether at the terminal or in airport retail and service areas.

If we are already working together -- come and say hi!  If we aren't yet, we'd love to meet you!

To arrange an onsite meeting at the show - please contact ingrid.principe@tensator.com


Show rooming reversed: shoppers choose brick-and-mortar retail experience

04. September 2014 18:27

A recent report from BI Intelligence has found that retailers have discovered "reverse showrooming," or "webrooming," where consumers research products online, but then head to a brick-and-mortar store to make their purchase.  In the U.S., 69% of people reverse showroom, while 46% showroom, according to a Harris poll. And it's not just the younger consumers, millennials are also reverse showrooming for everything ranging from electronics, shoes, sports equipment to cosmetics.

Chain Store Age reported that almost one-in-three (31%) of U.S. consumers say wanting to see/feel items in person would make them shop at a physical store instead of online. And while this survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers noted different reasons for consumers opting to make in-person purchases, (29.9% wanted items immediately, 16.9% believe it protects their privacy, 14.4% shop in-store to save on shipping costs and 6.5% want to ensure easier/cheaper returns) retailers need to capitalize on this trend.   

The BI report goes on to say that only recently have traditional retailers begun to take advantage of the opportunity that reverse showrooming extends – making sure they have knowledgeable sales staff, in-store pick-up of online orders, in-store Wi-Fi, and smartphone discounts to help convert showroomers to buy in-store. They’re also using new technologies for a better, more connected  in-store experience. 

This is a trend we at Tensator have definitely seen on the rise – with shopping centers and brands leveraging the Tensator Virtual Assistant next generation digital signage solution to engage, inform and entertain shoppers while also offering them promotions and discounts:

Equally important is having customers be able to help themselves with self-service solutions and have a smooth checkout process – from virtual queuing, call forward queue management to tablet armed staff who can address customer preferences with an inline greeter solution.

As noted in the report -- retailers are beginning to think of themselves less as purveyors of goods, and more as all-around consumer resources. Talk to a Tensator customer journey expert to learn more about how we can help you maximize reverse showrooming. 

Queueing riles 42 per cent of shoppers, but for how long?

26. August 2014 16:43

Heathrow has just opened the first Personal Shopping Lounge to appear in any airport in the world. So, to try to make the shopping experience better than the usual high street experience, it commissioned a study into Britons’ retail bugbears.

It produced some very interesting findings – most intriguing to us being the fact that 42 per cent of people are most frustrated by constant queuing.

Other pet hates unearthed by the survey include stores being too generally crowded, with an enormous 70 per cent citing this as the worst part of their shopping experience, whilst 37 per cent disliked messy piles of clothes littering the shelves.

For all of this, British shoppers spend 24.5 days rooting, queuing and elbowing each other throughout their lifetime.

This is a hugely stark reminder of retailers’ need to create an efficient, easy and well-organised place in which to shop. Every one of the top bugbears mentioned in the survey could be easily alleviated with modern technology.

Solutions such as the Tensator Virtual Assistant are developed specifically to guide customers through the store with the smoothest possible flow, creating a buzz for products at key points but freeing up more restricted areas.

The Tensator Virtual Assistant has been used successfully within the industry for many years  and with its small 50cm by 50cm footprint and portable design it is perfect for any retail environment

Virtual Queue Management Systems (VQMS), too, are particularly useful for combating busy tills at peak times. By dispersing waiting shoppers around the area, rather than lining them up, it results in a less stressful time that can be spent browsing. When customers reach the front of the virtual queue, their ticket numbers are then called to the tills.

Tensator VQMS solutions are available in conjunction with Inline Mobile, a smartphone app that allows shoppers to take their place in a queue before they reach the store. The app shows the user where the least busy stores are located and allows them to take a virtual ticket, which can then be scanned upon arrival to ‘check in’.

Automatic Electronic Call Forward (ECF) systems have also proved to be particularly useful in a wide variety of retail sectors. The Single-Line Queuing (SLQ) 3000 solution takes the form of a screen that simultaneously displays promotional messages and video and calls the next customer to the service desk. It can be completely integrated into the business’s central network for monitoring of the busiest areas, times and desks.

The ECF system and its associated solutions have been proven to reduce walkways by up to 96 per cent, speed up queue flow by up to 30 per cent and reduce frustration by serving customers in the order they arrive.

Technology such as this is already helping a wide variety of retailers to create a much more relaxed experience for their customers in store. As more adopt it, British shoppers could be in for a much more enjoyable trip down the high street. 

Major League Baseball: Does Increased Security Have to Mean Longer Lines?

14. August 2014 19:52

Major League Baseball is implementing metal detectors at all its parks, so every team will have enhanced security in place by the 2015 season. 

Some big league parks, like the Angels, have already starting testing or implementing security screening already that has fans feeling like they are going through an airport. And with the increased security, some parks are experiencing longer lines. Longer lines as everyone knows, can lead to frustration - especially as last minute arriving fans try and make it to the opening inning.  

To help combat the crowds, the lines and the heightened inevitable frustration, MLB parks can take a tip from airport security by making sure they have the highest quality heavy duty barricades and barriers, like the world renown Tensabarrier®, on hand to help provide dependable and trustworthy crowd control and fan guidance at entry and exit points, as well as all concession stands. Clear signage and call forward queue management software can also help set fan expectations, enabling them to know exactly when and where they will be assisted, while also empowering parks with real-time knowledge to ensure staffing support meets fan volume and needs.  

Taking another page out of airport security, MLB parks can also leverage next generation digital signage such as  the multilingual Tensator Virtual Assistant. The Tensator Virtual Assistant uses cutting edge technology to project an image and create the illusion of a real person – such as security staff, park executives or celebrity athletes, who provide guidance and value-added information to fans. The Tensator Virtual Assistant is proven to help move lines quickly and efficiently by providing captivating audio visual instructions - security related information – what to bring, what not to bring, size of bag/s allowed etc… It can even keep fans entertained and engaged by sharing MLB game and scheduling info, show highlight videos and provide interactive special offers to help fans get all the info they need and want to know.

Today, security is more critical than ever at any event where crowds gather; Tensator queue management experts are on hand to share their expertise on how to help keep fans safe, informed and entertained while helping reduce lines and frustration.

Tensator Celebrates the 24th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

11. August 2014 18:33

Just this past month, the United States celebrated the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This landmark law significantly improved American society for people with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination towards those with disabilities, and guaranteeing equal opportunities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. The ADA also provides for making sure that people with disabilities have the same capabilities to access the places and items they need to be able to reach – helping blind and visually impaired users and people who use wheelchairs better navigate their world.

Whether you are a school, bank, event venue or transportation hub -- Tensator’s guidance solutions can help ensure Path of Travel Accessibility requirements are code and American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Tensator’s TensaGuide Advance Dual Line and Heavy Duty Dual Line stanchions help physically challenged people move safely through their environment and our wide selection of signs and accessories will help ensure you have adequate signage wherever needed.

Providing safe passage and clear guidance is not only critical to meeting the code and preventing expensive litigation – it’s a subject near and dear to Tensator’s heart – having been the leader in the queue management space - guiding people safely and intelligently on their journeys for over 130 years. 

Talk to a Tensator Safety Expert and ask about our special ADA discount as we celebrate the 24th Anniversary of this landmark law.

Coca-Cola launches virtual assistant in cash and carries in London for Share a Coke campaign

29. July 2014 16:01

Press coverage

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) is launching a digital shopper marketing trial to engage retailers and drive awareness of its 2014 ‘Share a Coke’ campaign.

Using the latest technology from digital specialist Tensator, CCE has created a new virtual assistant, called ‘Isabelle’, to update retailers visiting Dhamecha cash and carry depots in London on this summer’s plans for the campaign.

Dressed in Coca-Cola branded clothing, Virtual Assistant Ultra Isabelle tells customers about the success of the campaign to date, suggests how retailers can maximise shopper interest in their stores and plays the new ‘Share a Coke’ TV advert.

Click here to read the full article on the Retail Times website.

Back To School Retail Survival Guide – Tips for Increasing Profits and Store Loyalty

29. July 2014 15:48

The Back To School (BTS) and Back To College (BTC) shopping season is upon us. Second only to the Holiday season, BTS and BTC shopping offers retailers a great opportunity to increase their profits and their reputation of being the "go to" source for all things back to school or college. All too often however, retailers don’t order enough or the right kind of supplies, price them wisely or worse, fail to keep the items stocked and displayed attractively and logically.   

According to a recent USAToday article, back-to-school shopping is no longer a frenzied one-day spending spree. Families are spending more, but they are doing so over a longer period of time as they search for the best deals. This means repeat business and could lead to additional spending provided they have a great experience the first time.  

Families are expected to spend $670 on average on back-to-school shopping, up 5% from last year, according to the latest data from the National Retail Federation. That includes spending on school supplies, clothes and electronics. With cost conscious parents and students, and lots of in-store and online options to choose from, retailers need to make their in-store experience is one that consumers will rave about to their friends and families and return to, for additional shopping.  

Here are some easy to implement in-store retail tips to help shoppers successfully score all their BTS/BTC supplies:

  • Designate a BTS/BTC space in your store and make sure you have bold and exciting signage that helps shoppers find what they need and helps create excitement as they visualize using or wearing new products.
  • If you plan on demoing new technology, branded solutions or you are promoting celebrity, sport teams/campus themed items – consider investing in Tensator’s Virtual Assistant next generation digital signage solution with the industry’s smallest footprint and watch the items fly off the shelves!
  • Make sure you stay on top of how merchandise is displayed; shelving should be accessible (items shouldn’t be placed too high or too low) and the right kind of items should be placed on the shelves so there is a logical flow to the display (see related Chain Store Age article on "Impulse Merchandising - and Why Selling a Toaster on the Checkout Line Won't Fly").
  • Make the best possible use of every square inch of retail space and use in-queue merchandising and impulse towers for point of sale must haves – from hygiene, safety, dorm or locker room items.
  • Ensure your checkout line is clearly defined using Tensabarriers®to help efficiently guide your customers on their way.

Creating a visually appealing, well stocked, and a service first in-store experience this BTS/BTC season will help increase your profits and ensure your customers return again and again. To explore any or all of these tips further please contact our customer journey specialists

The future is now as the Grafton shopping centre introduces their new Tensator Virtual Assistant

25. July 2014 12:15

Press release

The future is now as the Grafton shopping centre introduces their new Tensator Virtual Assistant

CAMBRIDGE, UK – 25 June 2014 – In a UK first, the Grafton in Cambridge is ready to dazzle shoppers with a “virtual” employee who actually greets customers when they enter the Grafton.

Using innovative technology which projects an image of a person creating a mesmerising, life-like display, the Tensator Virtual Assistant also interacts with customers, answering common questions and promoting mall offers. This is the very first use of this amazing technology in a UK shopping mall and it promises to create a novel and fun experience.

Centre manager, Lance Stanbury commented, “We are proud to introduce the newest addition to our team. She is the first of her kind in a UK shopping centre and we believe she will be a real help to all our customers. Cambridge is known as the silicon fen for its new technology and we are proud to be introducing innovation in Cambridge’s popular retail destination.”The Virtual Assistant has been supplied by customer journey technology specialist Tensator.

Ajay Joshi, Tensator’s head of media and technology at Tensator, said: “We’re delighted to be working alongside the Grafton to help make the shopping experience even more unique for customers.”

“Tensator Virtual Assistants have become a familiar sight at airports, train stations and conference venues across the world and now they are making their mark on UK shopping centres too. Consumers are demanding a more immersive, guided retail experience and it’s great to see the Grafton team leading the way when it comes to meeting this need.”

Look out for the Tensator Virtual Assistant in the hall outside Millie’s Cookies as she starts her career in the Grafton Centre.

Let the (queuing) games begin

24. July 2014 16:34

Last night saw the spectacular opening ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Featuring 17 sports and spanning 11 days, the event will see more than 4,500 athletes from 71 nations and territories descending on the Scottish city. Thousands of spectators will be watching events unfold at sporting venues in Glasgow and, as you would expect, security will take priority. In fact, the total cost of security for the Games is said to be £90m.

Looking back to previous major sporting events, we’ve seen increased safety measures resulting in lengthy queues for members of the public to take their seats.

In the USA, Major League Baseball has instructed all 30 of its teams to implement new security screening for fans entering stadiums, either with hand-held metal detection or walk-through magnetometers. Many venues also have a limit on the size of bag that spectators are allowed to bring inside, as well as the material that the bags are made from.

Past incidents have shown just how important this type of tightened security is, although it inevitably leads to longer waiting times. So, what can venue management teams be doing to ensure that security checks remain efficient, but queue lengths are reduced?

  • Having a clearly defined queue for security checks is a given. Visitors need to understand exactly where they need to go, so any degree of confusion can be avoided.

    The Tensabarrier® range can be used to create a highly visible queue formation and the webbing between them can be customised to ensure brand consistency. This also presents a flexible option as the webbing and posts can be used to either reduce or extend the length of the queue at short notice, catering for an influx of spectators at busy times.
  • For large sporting venues with multiple security desks, the implementation of a Single Line Queue (SLQ) Call Forward System could be a viable option. Perhaps most recognisable in the retail sector, SLQ systems call customers forward to the next available service point.

    In retail, such solutions are proven to speed queue flow and improve service times by 30%, so a SLQ system could well be a welcome addition to a large sporting venue.
  • The Tensator Virtual Assistant would also add a new dynamic to the security process. The next generation digital signage solution uses the latest technology to project the image of a real person to convey important messages. It is already a familiar site at airports worldwide and is often used to tell passengers what is allowed in their hand luggage.

    When two Tensator Virtual Assistants were installed at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4, they helped to reduce the number of bag rejections, meaning fewer delays through the security area. They could certainly have a similar impact at sporting venues too.

The level of support, technology and, ultimately, investment required will obviously depend on the size of venue and scale of operation in question. However, careful planning is a given to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone.

King's Cross 'Louise' goes social

17. July 2014 17:03

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so imagine how happy we were to discover that our Virtual Assistant at King’s Cross Station now has her very own Twitter account.

@KXEscalatorLady may be unofficial, but it certainly provides a tongue-in-cheek and humorous perspective from our very own ‘Louise’. Who knew that advising travellers with heavy, awkward to handle baggage to use the lift rather than risk the escalator could be quite so entertaining?

We don’t always agree with everything that is posted on the Twitter account, but it definitely makes us smile.

It also goes to show how much Virtual Assistants are becoming part of mainstream culture. Not only can you find them at railways stations, but they are also a familiar sight at airports, retail destinations, and conferences and sports stadiums too. And, now it seems they are taking over social media channels too. These Virtual Assistants are certainly putting in some long hours!

Vehicle repair: avoiding the pitfalls

16. July 2014 16:20

Press coverage

The motor vehicle repair industry has always been associated with more everyday risks than most, argues Brett Hellyer, who offers some advice on what businesses can do to minimise risks cost effectively.

Between 2008 and 2012, 8,600 injuries were reported to HSE and local authorities for the motor vehicle repair industry. In the same period, 33 people were killed. In 2013, slips, trips and falls were more common in transport than any other sector.

You might assume that many of these reports were for minor accidents. However, being hit by moving vehicles, fires and falling from height are the most common causes of injury.

Click here to read the full article on the Safety & Health Practitioner website.

Cutting-edge urban technology

16. July 2014 14:54

Press coverage

If you've visited London’s King's Cross station recently, you might have met 'Louise', a virtual assistant who advises travellers with heavy, awkward luggage to use the lift rather than the escalator. There's more than a hint of Minority Report to the technology, which can also be found at numerous airports, stadiums, hospitals and stores around the world. 

Click here to read the full article on the MSN UK website.

In-Store vs. Online Shopping Experience Survey

14. July 2014 15:56

Do retailers need to up their game to avoid continual losses to online rivals?

Consumers have more choices than ever before on how to shop. Armed with their mobile devices they have instant access to pricing and availability information; they can even choose Click and Collect to pick up items shipped to store or have them shipped direct to home. How does all this impact the in-store experience?

Will Webrooming, the practice of researching items online and then purchasing them in-store or Showrooming, browsing for items in a store and purchasing them online later, win the consumer heart? Are shoppers willing to wait in line or prefer going online? Is there a sustainable business model for both, and are there any crossovers?

Take a moment to fill out our in-store vs. online shopping survey and let us know what you think about the latest trends and factors impacting the shopping experience.