yo – In the age of texting and electronic communication, many of the phone calls we still make and take are not optimizing our time. Why do we still wait for a phone call from a mechanic to tell us our car is ready? When the call come, nobody answers, and now there is a voicemail that says: “Your car is ready”. This process has way too many steps for both parties. Wouldn’t it easier to just get a text? At the same time, we don’t want to share our mobile number with absolutely everyone.
Yo is a ludicrously simple service. Install it on your phone and you can send one message that says Yo to a selected user(s). That is all. Famously, the World Cup has an account that will send a Yo every time a goal is scored.
The service reminds me of days when long distance actually cost money and one of my room-mates in university used to call his parents when he got to the dorm from home after a long drive and let the phone ring at his parents twice. They knew he was home and no long distance charges incurred. Yo is similar – a message service where both players already know what the message is and a very simple vehicle is in place to support the message.
On the surface this seems silly and far too basic, but effectively it puts into place an arm’s length notification engine. You tell your dry cleaner your yo handle, and when your stuff is ready, you get a Yo notification that pops up on your phone. No spam, no additional mailbox, no app for every retailer, nobody knows your mobile number, and it’s a one on one message as opposed to a broadcast. Retailers don’t need anything other than a pc or mobile device and a handle. Simple is good.
While the system only says yo right now, nothing stops Yo from building additional standard statements beyond yo -service complete, pickup ready, it could be anything. Social media service Path has already implemented a service called Pathtalk to enable texting with businesses, but it requires retailers to maintain yet another social media service.
Texting is so prevalent, that notifications by text for retail services must happen. It’s just a matter of when and how. Yo is but one candidate that shows promise. It is simple and avoids the trap of yet another social media channel. Watch for it. It might be yet another button on a retail station or mobile device in the future.
[Update: If you want to get uber geeky with Yo, it has an IFTTT channel so that users can turn on AC, text someone automatically or turn on the lights and more.]
modiface - It follows that if a retailer has a great product, then letting shoppers try it out is a great strategy. Selecting makeup colours is a challenge, and while I’m not a consumer of cosmetics, demo makeup appears time consuming, and relies on the opinions of strangers. Anyone who has walked through a cosmetic section of a drugstore has also wondered who really puts those lipstick demos on their actual lips. Using those seems like a real life game of roulette.
These challenges can now be eliminated. Sephora has teamed with augmented reality provider modiface to develop a solution that lets shoppers try out numerous new colours of makeup without the time and effort of actually applying it in store. Shoppers stand in front of a screen with a built in video camera and a palette of colours. Shoppers can select various facial options, such as eyes and then select various colours to see how the cosmetic colour would look on your eyes. The screen shows full motion video and the shoppers can tilt their head from side to side to see how they look in real life.
The video on this solution appears much smoother and more realistic than all of the clothing apps that allow shoppers to “try on” a virtual outfit in a magic mirror. This app is a great use of augmented reality and even if it doesn’t sell more cosmetics, it has to improve shopper satisfaction with purchases. Put it on a tablet as well, and it could also speed up the selling process for cosmetic selling associates.
- Amazon Firefly – Amazon’s new mobile device called the Fire has a function called Firefly that uses image recognition technology to look for items on the Amazon store. Take a picture with your mobile device, or capture an image on the screen and press the Firefly button to link to the Amazon store.
- Twitter Buy Now – Some twitter users have reported seeing a Buy Now button on selected post. While it is uncertain at present whether this is a feature or an experiment, this is a great monetization option for twitter, and a time save for users who may wish to purchase or add items to basket for futures depending on the retailer.
- Snapup - Similar to the Firefly option above, upcoming app Snapup allows users to take screenshots from their iPhone and use the image to search through 1000 sites to allow an online mobile purchase.
As the channels continue to split, it’s going to become increasingly challenging for retailers to establish interfaces to all of these points of purchase, and it will also become important to track them and understand where the business comes from. There is lots of opportunity, but it will be challenging to keep track of it all.