Whatever you think of this new reality of omnipresence, there are an increasing number of ways for consumers to interface with retailers. Fundamentally, all of the building blocks already exist – but with increasing availability of technology and comfort of the general population to use it, there are some retailers putting it out there and trying some new ideas. Some recent examples of the ongoing experimentation and changes in recent weeks:
South Korean Subway Store – Tesco’s branch in South Korea – Home plus – recently bought up a row of large scale advertising on a subway platform and filled those lit poster frames with giant posters of actual full size shelves from a grocery store. The images give the subway platform the aura of an actual grocery store department. The images are complete with 2d barcodes shelf tags and consumers can scan those codes with their mobile phones to add real life products shown on the shelf to their virtual shopping basket. The consumer specifies a delivery time and the goods go right to their door. This is merely a repurposing of a mobile app interfaced to a web store. The scanning aspect is available in many other apps as well. The brilliance of the idea is the placement of the faux shelves in the subway. This concept takes a location where consumers are passing time and puts it to good use – capturing a captive audience. Everyone needs groceries, and all of these people are just standing there otherwise. This stunt alone appears to have driven Home plus to number one in online sales according to the video.
Shopping by Voice on Mobile – Tesco’s UK team have not been idle with their mobile app. A recent major revamp of the Tesco UK mobile app shows a lot of thought has gone into how consumers would like to shop with their mobile phone. One of the more unique items is the use of searching by voice – a functionality that has been around for some time on Google, but I’ve not seen it used to search within an app. Those building similar apps would do well to have a look at what they have done!
Tablets – The hot topic of retail of late is how to implement mobile devices in a retail environment. Lots going on in this area. Check out a number of examples.
Payments – A recently released study indicated that more than half of the Canadians would be willing to ditch physical currency altogether and move to all electronic payments. Interesting timing given the upcoming release of new Canadian currency. Not surprisingly, Verifone has recently released a new mobile payment solution for tablets. I still have not seen much in the way of EMV versions, though I have been promised they are coming.