YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Visitors at any of the dozens of Phantom Fireworks showrooms across the country will be in for a surprise this Fourth of July season. Phantom – always an industry innovator – has introduced hand-held tablets in each showroom that will allow sales representatives to give customers instant video previews of virtually all of their most popular fireworks.
Phantom Fireworks IT experts Ray Detwiler and Joel Kendall modified more than 300 Barnes & Noble Nook Color tablets allowing the tablets to play videos of more than 100 Phantom products in action. In addition to the demonstrational videos, the tablets also include a calculator application so sales representatives can estimate the costs and help customers literally get the most bang for their bucks.
"The tablets provide a fantastic tool for our customers to demo fireworks before they buy them,” Kendall said. “It's always about improving their customer experience in the showrooms. With the Nooks, we have the ability to turn customers onto Phantom products they’ve never experienced or purchased, which is a great thing."
The Nooks feature a slick a 7-inch VividView full-color touchscreen, making them a better option for showroom sales representatives as opposed to larger, bulkier tablets. The product videos are classified in two categories – aerials and fountains – and the tablets also posses a search feature that allows representatives to look up videos by the firework’s name and number. All the demo videos are stored and uploaded onto a secure digital (SD) card at the Phantom Fireworks corporate office in Youngstown and shipped out to the different showrooms across the country.
“With the SD card we have the freedom to put files where we want them and the ability to make modifications however we see fit,” Detwiler said. “When we’re ready to give them more video, we just ship out the new SD card. After they receive it, they just pop it in and they’ve got fresh, high-definition videos, and they send us back the old one. There’s no need to ship the Nook back itself.”
Detwiler said that the process took months, from initially presenting the idea to Phantom Fireworks CEO Bruce J. Zoldan, through testing different products and platforms and finally shipping out the Nooks. Each of Phantom’s 60 showrooms will have between two and six of the modified Nooks on the floor any given day. So far, Detwiler said, the feedback from the first showrooms that received them has been excellent and he expects the industry to take notice.
“I haven’t seen or heard of any other retailers doing something like this,” Detwiler said. “It’s definitely something unique and I don’t think anyone’s going to see it coming.
“It’s just another way the Phantom is leading the way in innovation. Mobile applications and other things that we worked on last year are now being rolled out by others but before us, no one was thinking about a mobile app in the fireworks industry.”
Detwiler said that the Phantom team is already working on the next big digital media idea while the rest of the industry plays catch up. It’s a lot of pressure, he said, but it’s a challenge that he looks forward to.
“To be able to innovate and do things that other people aren’t doing – thinking outside the box – I really enjoy it,” Detwiler said. “Normally, nobody would think that a Nook Color could be converted to a video player and shipped to retail locations across the United States. That kind of outside thinking is really fun.”
Phantom Fireworks operates permanent showrooms in 16 states and Puerto Rico, seasonal and temporary sales venues in 17 states, as well as selling at wholesale and to chain stores. For fireworks safety information and safety tips visit www.Fireworks.com and click on “Fireworks University.”
Phantom Fireworks: Lighting up America’s backyards from coast to coast!