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Icovia Adds Tablet Version of Space Planning Software

IcoviaIcovia is introducing this new space planning application for computer tablets next month.
LONDONDERRY, N.H. - Icovia, long known for its space planning software for the home furnishings industry, is expanding its capabilities to accommodate the popular computer tablet.
     The company will introduce the new mobile technology with a webinar scheduled for Oct. 10, followed by a full launch at the High Point Market, Oct. 22-27.
     The product has been in beta testing with 13 home furnishings companies. Icovia CEO Steve Street said the tablet edition space planner will be available in 2-D, and eventually in 3-D as it is now for its regular customer websites.
     Street said the tablet edition initially will be available for Apple's iPad but also is in prototype for other brands' similar devices. It will be integrated with retailers' Web-based Icovia planner and will soon be expanded to allow other processing with existing retail order systems. Users' accounts, plans and designs will be available from both planners, he added.
     Street said the new tablet edition of its space planning technology has been in development for two years as consumers have turned more to mobile devices to interact with retailers. He said it is consumers, already well-versed in mobile interplay through selecting, ordering and paying for merchandise from Internet based companies, who are driving mobile technology.
     "Typically, consumers demand certain experiences like they're already having with Amazon and all those other companies," he said. Because of that, Street said, "We know that retailers are starting to move to mobile. It's not only retailers, but manufacturers as well."
     Besides the iPad and other tablets, mobile technology includes iPhones, Blackberrys and too many other smart phones to count.
     Street said Icovia studied the dynamics of mobile users and concluded that smart phones were more "personal devices, so we didn't see (retail) associates using them as powerful tools. You don't see sales associates and consumers huddled around a smart phone."
     Phones are used for peripheral data - to look up a product or retrieve pricing or other information - but aren't as conducive for hard core usage that the highly visual space planning solution demands.
     Icovia strategists surveyed 300 retailers, mostly its customers, and found:
     ► 93% are interested in a tablet solution.
     ► 44% are planning a tablet solution in the next 12 months, and another 43% are investigating one.
     ► 91% are going with Apple.
     Street said the survey also determined that its customers want a tablet solution to work with Icovia 2-D on their website. In addition, he said that customers had far more interest in room planning than in browsing catalogs on a tablet, configuring/visualizing product on a tablet, and buying product from a tablet.
     "That blew us away," he said.
     He said salespeople will be able to use the software on the sales floor to help consumers configure their space and determine if a new purchase would fit. If the customer comes to the store without knowing her living space's dimensions, the sales associate can use the tablet to approximate the size, make a sketch and transfer it to the store's website so the consumer can view it at home.
     Masking sure something fits not only leads to consumer satisfaction, it can save a store owner money, according to Street. He said that Avon, Mass.-based retailer Jordan's, an Icovia customer, reported saving 2% on its bottom line because of decreased returns.
     While initially available in 2-D, Street said, an improved tablet edition of the space planner is in prototype and will offer comprehensive technology allowing spaces to be viewed with colors, lighting, textures and other features.

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