As the dynamic for retailers shifts from a B2C model (where where the business dictates how consumers will interface to a retailer) to a C2B model (where consumers can use any number of platforms do business with a retailer), there are some very interesting technology applications coming to the fore that attempt to take advantage of the changes.
This video from the shop.org annual summit highlights this vision of the future for retailing with every potential touchpoint as an opportunity to sell.
Some examples of retailers leveraging :
Starbucks Wifi Portal - When you login to the free wifi at Starbucks in the US, the new Starbucks Digital Network is rolling out that provides users access to specially selected content, including six channels around News, Entertainment, Wellness, Business and Careers, My Neighbourhood, and Starbucks. Understanding that half of their customers are using mobile devices in the store, Starbucks are optimizing this experience for those users. Starbucks provides another reason to visit their sites, while providing other potential revenue opportunities through media sales/fees/commissions. This seems like a real win for everyone – consumers, content providers and Starbucks.
Concierge Service in Apple Stores - Apple appears to be upgrading their Genius bar system whereby customers arriving at Apple Stores can register, be placed in a queue for assistance, and even see the name and a picture of their Genius. Given the increasingly crowded and crazy environment at an Apple store, this is a great use of a device the client is likely to own, while providing a valuable service and re-inforcing the Apple brand.
Store Scanning - Unlike my previous post where retailers are scanning mobile devices, there are a wide array of solutions for consumers to use their mobiles to scan items in stores. Two particular interesting examples are the upgrade to the Tesco iPhone app that allows for barcode reading capability to add to orders, and Aislebuyer, a standalone system that lets customers scan in stores and check out on their own.
iPad Apps – Companies like Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Amazon Windowshop, and more are releasing iPad apps that provide a unique interaction point that is special to their brand, provides an interface that the customer is asking for, and leverages a consumer device as opposed to having to invest in their own networks.
Mobile Payment and Couponing - Starbucks has been accepting mobile payments through their mobile apps and a 2d barcode scanner since late last year, but are now rolling it out in New York – where solutions like this can start to enter the mainstream. Target has been doing the same with coupons since the spring. People notice that they lose their wallet after a day – their mobile phone they notice missing in an hour. What’s more important? These organizations are leveraging an area of demand, and smartly sidestepping all of the logistical nightmares of mobile phone payments to give themselves an early adopter advantage.
All of these examples are clever efforts to turn the C2B model to a business advantage for these organizations, and a glimpse into how Consumers will interact with retailers in the future – wherever they want – but more so.