With Game of Thrones between seasons and ending soon, HBO is banking on their Western / Sci-fi hybrid Westworld to be their next juggernaut series. The series is based on the Michael Crichton original film from 1972. Westworld is a veritable theme park comprised of a large-scale re-creation of the Wild West where those with enough cash in their pocket can buy a ticket to play whatever role they want.
So, how does the Westworld re-create the “realness” of the old west days?
That’s left up to the Androids, otherwise called "hosts”. The hosts populate the world to offer a seemingly endless amount of narratives and interact with human visitors. It’s nearly impossible to tell a host from a human/visitor. Some promote quests and bounties, others simply exist to fill the world doing the basic things that make up a day.
Loops & Personality Traits
Like their human counterparts, the hosts in Westworld are built upon a set of personality traits and have a fixed “loop” they are programmed to stick to no matter how monotonous or dangerous. For example, one of the hosts might spend all day sitting at a poker table dealing cards and carrying on conversation, helping to set the scene for visitors. Another may be involved in a bank robbery, with an inevitable demise.
These traits, as shown above, are spread over a number of attributes such as courage, charm, empathy, curiosity, meekness, aggression, imagination, etc. There are maximum allowable settings for each trait, so as to not allow a single host to become too skilled at everything (imagine the potential of that scenario).
Now that we are all familiar with the show, here’s a few ways retailers could use Westworld-esque hosts in their stores; along with the major attributes needed for each role. Current-day ethics aside and a suspension of disbelief required, of course.
1. Welcoming Committee
Major Attributes: Charm, Humor, Bulk Apperception
Every store needs a well mannered welcoming committee. One of the key host attributes for this role is Bulk Apperception. This trait defines the overall intelligence of a host, but more specifically boosts their awareness and ability to read others. In Episode 6, one of the hosts (Maeve) portrays the results of her heightened Bulk Apperception trait, in her ability to accurately and quickly read other people’s intentions and desires.
Retailers with a host or two at the front of the store quickly determining the best way to interact with a shopper could effectively direct them to what they are looking for and boost conversions.
2. Live Scenes
Major Attributes: Imagination, Coordination, Vivacity
Work with me on this idea. In Episode 6, we get a deeper look at some of the behind the scenes work that goes into training hosts to execute their tasks and roles each day. We are taken to various points along the “production line”; through the design and creation area, where hosts are built; through the training zone, where hosts are being taught how to be human.
A retailer could add sections of their stores with live scenes / scenarios that constantly loop throughout the day, leveraging their hosts enthusiasm and creativity. This could be a scene with a couple decorating their kitchen at a home furnishings store. Or another scene with a looping demonstration showing how to use a certain set of tools at a hardware store. Consider it a customer experience boost of sorts.
3. Checkout & Returns
Major Attributes: Patience, Humility, Decisiveness
For any retailer, the checkout and returns process can be stressful for the shopper and for the employee. Imagine the return lines after the Holidays. Brutal. Do your human employees a favor and spare from the stress. Add a few hosts with maxed out Patience traits, sprinkled with a bit of Humility along with the ability to make quick and firm decisions.
In no time, your customer satisfaction will skyrocket, lines will shorten, as will the store’s transaction count.
4. Fitting Rooms
Major Attributes: Candor, Charm, Empathy
We all want honest opinions in the fitting room, right? Well, at least honest with the ability to deliver it with grace. With a few charming hosts roaming the fitting room area, your customers are bound to be steered in the right direction and feel about their choices. The hosts will quickly assess your body type, ensuring you are fitted in the right style and size of clothing.
Would you staff Westworld-like hosts in your stores?