July 12, 2012, 1:13 PM

Two sci-fi apps hit the streets this week

The future is now for two mobile sellers.

Lead Photo

A Valspar agent helps a consumer pick out paints for a living room via live video on an iPad.

I’m a science fiction nut. Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who: You name it, I probably like it. As such, I grew up dreaming of a future that included all sorts of really cool technology. One technology I looked forward to was video calls on mobile devices. And when Apple Inc. came out with FaceTime, I was in heaven.

This week, two companies debuted apps that create two-way video links between consumers and agents that are really cool. And as you’ll find out in my August Internet Retailer magazine story on smartphone apps, cool counts.

Valspar Paint worked with marketing services firm CatapultRPM to bring interior designers into consumers’ homes via iPhones and iPads. A consumer sets up an appointment with a Valspar color consultant and at the appointed time the consultant initiates a video link with the consumer. The consumer then uses her iPhone 4S or iPad to scan around a room to give the consultant an idea of what things look like. The consultant displays colors she feels work best. At the end of the free 30-minute session, the consumer can order paint straight from the consultant.

On another front, StubNut.com worked with mobile technology provider Radish Systems to build into its app an audio/visual customer service feature that enables a two-way connection where ticket agents can show buyers views from selected seats, venue maps and more. It’s not live video, but it is live audio plus visuals. And most important, it’s cool. And I guess I should add that it’s highly practical and likely can help drive conversion and upsells.

Live video customer service is something a lot of retailers should be thinking about. It can greatly help a mobile app stand out in the crowd, and it can aid in increasing sales. Cool is the rule in mobile apps. So give live video or audio/visual a thought. Video calls will become mainstream sooner rather than later, and I believe people will come to expect live video customer service one day. Do it now and be a mobile commerce leader.

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