2012.40 | eBay Now | Siri | Screens

Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 10.57.27 PMeBay Now App – This app takes me back to the days of the early 2000’s with startups like Kozmo.com.  eBay recently released the eBay Now App that allows consumers to order products for delivery ‘in about an hour’ from tier one retailers like Office Depot, Best Buy, Target, and Macy’s.  Initially available in San Francisco and some parts of New York, I’m sure these more traditional retailers welcome another channel in which to compete with rival Amazon – especially given Jeff Bezos’ expressed desire to open stores, and their Local Express Delivery option. (Anyone else notice that the demo you see at left on the US App Store shows a Canadian Carrier? Alrighty, then.)

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Siri – It appears that GM won the race to be first to get a deal with Apple to have Siri interfaced to a vehicle.  Apparently their Sonic and Spark models will have integration with Siri.  Frankly, this information is somewhat underwhelming.  I can interface Siri with my 2009 Volvo today by pressing the call button and instead of asking it to call someone, I just say a command to Siri as one always would.    Being able to control my mobile with my voice is useful.   It’s incredible to be able to  send and receive texts and control my music while leaving my mobile safely away from my hands and eyes.   What would be fantastically helpful is if Siri and/or Google Voice Search could integrate more fully with my TomTom app.  As it sits today, with both of these voice controlled programs, users can ask for suggestions on the closest Starbucks or the best burrito place in the area.

While I condone safe driving and don’t want to distract anyone from what should be their main focus, we have to anticipate the future.    Search is only going to get smarter.  Siri and Google Voice Search are only going to get more sophisticated.  In future, when we consult our voice activated personal assistants, we may be asking for the nearest location to find a Tide Pen, or the best route to take if we drop off our dry cleaning and grab some milk and eggs on the way home.  This could be less distracting to driving by letting the internet do the thinking, while improving people’s organization.  This means retailers that share their store data online have an opportunity to drive more traffic to their stores in future.rea, but they can’t transition to giving us directions while we drive without touching the mobile.

Tesco Screens – At their recent internal conference, Tesco highlighted a few technologies they are planning on using in store including virtual mirrors, and an endless aisle solution.  These technologies have been around for some time, but it’s interesting to see them show up in the press. They are formerly known as kiosk solutions, but I just call them screens.


The virtual mirrors still feel a bit thin to me.  If I’m at the store and I like the outfit, why don’t I just try it on?  If I see it virtually it doesn’t really give me a great concept of how it’s going to look in real life.  The video on the best of them is jumpy.  Take it further, and I expect it’s a lot of work to keep all of the fashion collections updated every season.  I’ve played with this concept at American Eagle’s 77 kids stores (see image at right), and while it was obviously put together with a great deal of care and the app looked wonderful on the screen, it feels gimmicky and not particularly useful.

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The endless aisle kiosk solution is certainly more interesting.  This is a solid revenue generating solution that can be measured directly for performance.  If Tesco don’t have the toy at the store that I want, I can add it to my shopping basket on my mobile for future purchase, or I can order it directly from the kiosk.  The large format screen is really engaging.  If done right, this solution can leverage good work already done for the e-commerce website at Tesco.  A nice looking, useful, and ROI driving solution is always a win.

2011.39 | Retail Linkdump

Robots at the Mall – Everyone loves robots, and malls in Abu Dhabi may soon be leveraging robots as service ambassadors.  The humanoid robots built by Barcelona based PAL Robotics  have touch screens built into their chests, cameras in their heads to allow them to recognize users, and wheels to allow them to drive around.  Instead of printing a map to a location in a large mall or hospital, the robots can lead you there.  Make sure you watch the video.  Very iRobot.

No Branch Banking 2.0 – While there were a few Internet only banks floating around with the first Internet bubble, one still needed a card to get cash at some point.  With our new mobile reality, Movenbank is offering a cardless banking experience based on the web and Android NFC mobile devices.

Mobile Phone Recycler ATM – While I’ve heard of kiosks to recycle old technology in the past, ecoATM now sports a camera to identify your old mobile device so you can get a quote on the spot.  via PSFK

eBay Mobile Image Search – 2d Barcodes are too unwieldly for many – or so it seems.  How about taking a picture of something you like with your mobile phone camera, and having your mobile look for that item on sale on eBay based on the image?   eBay recently announced that the eBay mobile app will have this capability in the mobile app by the end of the year.

Ikea Happy to Bed Campaign – Ikea’s recent online campaign makes use of a fancy Youtube trick, an interface to Facebook, and some input from the user to provide a very personalized shopping experience.  Make sure you watch the whole video.  You are somehow convinced to build a shopping list without knowing what was happening.

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