The future retail experience using mobile technology

March 13th, 2012

FutureShop QR NFCOne of the more interesting panels I addend at SXSW was titled FutureShop – Virtual QR Stores NFC Receipts and more. The focus of the panel discussion was obviously mobile and how consumers have changed their behaviors.

We are at the cusp of a fundamental change in our society where are large part of the population will regularly use their smart phone to shop and compare, not only when out of store but also while in store. This adds an entire new layer on top of the consumers mobile interaction with brick and mortar stores. These businesses have understood the great need for mobile optimized content and shopping experiences and have delivered very well in many cases. But with this new real time change in consumer behaviors these same companies need to setup up their efforts.

One technique that has been discussed for the past couple of years is QR codes. These are easily scan-able matrix images that can take a user to a specific URL online. This content could be a web page, ecommerce experience or even a video. The upside of this methodology is the content does not need to exist within the store itself. This new third screen can educate and sell. Companies also have the option of updating the destination of any QR code at any time. Therefore in-store installations and shelf talkers don’t need to be replaced when a promotion changes.

Another new technology in the very early stages of adoption is NFC or near field communications. This is an actual chip embedded within a smartphone that triggers an application or action when it comes within a certain physical proximity to a transmitter. For example, a customer could approach a television that is currently on sale. The smartphone would automatically receive the signal from the NFC transmitter and present the customer with information about the product including features and a discount for purchasing that very day. This is just one simple example of how the NFC technology could be used.

The big change that us as marketers truly need to understand is that consumers are beginning to enhance their own shopping experience using their devices and services such as ShopSavvy. Traditional brick and mortar stores need to look at embracing this trend and technology moving into the future so that they can begin to craft truly custom and immersive experiences within their stores. By leveraging critical data such as rewards member databases they will be able to customize each customers experience directly to that person. Presenting customers with the most relevant products based on past purchase behaviors, or projecting interest based on specific segment metrics.

The thought that Internet base stores will kill traditional stores hasn’t become a reality with only 5% of all purchases happening online. This means that traditional stores now have the ability to grow their businesses using technology that isn’t even applicable to their online competition.