Tired of going into a store and finding no one to answer your questions?
In the retail store of the future, that problem may disappear. No more hunting down a sales clerk and hoping they know enough to explain the differences between each model of a digital camera or power drill.
Instead, pick up the telephone at a kiosk, where you'll be connected via live video to an expert, who could be hundreds of miles away at a call center. The expert will be armed with a variety of tools to satisfy customer questions, ranging from store maps to product details, inventory status and access to the Web.
These live customer support kiosks were one of the newest technologies showcased at the National Retail Federation convention in January. As the nation's largest retailers continue to look for ways to make their business more efficient, they're increasingly turning to technology for help.
"Retail is a pretty simple business, but what adds complexity is the size and scale," said Home Depot Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Nardelli, whose company is spending more than $500 million a year on technology.