Get me there – eCommerce could really meet stores if Google follows through on their latest concept. The idea is that advertisers may find a transaction valuable enough to foot the bill to pay for a potential client to come to their store. If an advertiser signs up for this service, a “take me there” button appears on the ad that can be clicked and a taxi can pick up the user to take them to the store. Their patent even considers a self-driving car being used to pick up potential clients. Great idea in theory, but there’s lots of room here for people to try for free rides.
Anticipatory Shipping – Amazon apparently filed a patent for shipping product before clients order it. The idea is that items that are likely to drive demand in an area are shipped to that area and redirected to a person who orders it to minimize shipping time. I haven’t decided if this is genius or lunacy.
Miserable Men – If you happen to visit instagram, check out Miserable Men – an account full of images of unfortunate gentlemen who appear to be experiencing a sub optimal shopping experience as a shopping partner. While it’s comedy, and we’ve all been there, there has to be some opportunity here for cross-selling, or at least retailers could attempt to entertain or otherwise reduce the pain inflicted on these poor souls. The account would be better named Missed Opportunities. IF we are so hyped about the customer experience, here is an area ripe for improvement.
Apple Payments – There have been ripples again recently that Apple is making moves to attempt to enable mobile payments in the real world. With the base of devices they have, they could certainly make an impact. However, changing payments to mobile devices is rife with challenges. Google failed at it. Square was expected to be a big deal at Starbucks and so far hasn’t made any noise beyond the small business level so far.
There are so many opportunities for failure with mobile POS payments between two parties in a store. To succeed, there are changes to retailer software, changes to retailer devices, training cashiers, training consumers, data connectivity, user interfaces, security, and much much more. Those are only the initial technical challenges. You also need to establish consumer confidence in your payment system and make it as universally available as possible. You also need to get credit card companies on board in some way, and find a way to make money on transactions that are already laden with fees from various players and find a way to do it without charging consumers.
As an early adopter, I would be excited to see an Apple payments system, but it’s a challenging initiative. As a retailer, it’s best to keep your payments options as flexible as possible to ensure that if something does come along, that your solutions are in a position to enable new tendering options as easily and quickly as possible.