Go Inside

“If you are not on the inside, your are on the outside”

Gordon GekkoWall Street

Well apparently Apple wants to be on the inside.  The last mile in the marketing, promotional, geo-location part of the food chain. There is still one slightly uncharted territory that will — without question — be the last mile in marketing. It is the ability for a brand to deliver contextual and highly targeted marketing at the local retail level. We may be inching ever-closer to this reality.

On March 23rd, 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple acquired a company called WiFiSLAM for an estimated $20 million. WiFiSLAM is GPS for the indoors. It is able to triangulate the location of consumers, track their every move and deliver contextual marketing messages to them while capturing a tremendous amount of consumer data.

For Apple, this may be the next big thing. Some speculate that Apple will try to grab the mapping of the inside spaces while Google continues to map the oceans and the arctic. Google is just as busy trying to capitalize on this idea of mapping the inside of spaces as well. But it’s not just a game for Apple and Google. Amazon has been hard at work capturing tons of consumer information at the retail level.

A little Eve 6 for you.

Look no further than their Price Check for iPhone app that enables consumers to scan a barcode, snap a picture of a product or use text/speech search to find out how much the product is on Amazon. This business of showrooming has become a contentious talking point in the retail sector, as more and more consumers are using their smartphones and tablets to find a better price at the physical location. These consumers are using the stores as a showroom, but completing their purchases on their mobile devices and having the products shipped to their homes. What we don’t hear much about is the data and information that Amazon is capturing about consumers, how they walk through stores, what they’re price checking, the price variances from store to store, trends in merchandising and more. All of this (and more) is being captured, each and every time a consumer uses the app to find a better price. While it’s not real-time information like WiFiSLAM is offering, Amazon still has tremendous information about consumers and how they make their way through many different retail environments.

It looks like stores are going to become as dynamic and intelligent as their e-commerce counterparts. So long as retailers seeks permission from their consumers and use this technology to drive more value to the consumers, these types of technologies could well be the linchpin that secures the future of retail.

Inside game is now officially on.  Just as spring arrives.

Webman

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Showrooming

And yet another new word enters our vernacular.  Use to be we went to the showroon (a noun).  Now we go showrooming (a verb).  Kind of like when Google was a noun (Name of the company) and not a verb, “Just Google it?”

So what exactly is showrooming?  From Wikipedia – Showrooming is when a customer visits a brick and mortar retail location to touch and feel a product and then goes online to buy the product at a lower price. Online stores often offer lower prices than brick and mortar stores because they do not have the overhead cost.

48 million consumers or 20 percent of the U.S. population will use their smartphones to showroom.

The number of shoppers engaging in showrooming during the 2012 holiday season is expected to increase by 134 percent, with mobile behavior influencing between $700 million to $1.7 billion in retail purchases, according to a new report from IDC Retail Insights.

The report reveals some of the ways that retailers can address showrooming, with approximately 70 percent of shoppers planning to showroom this season saying they will be “more likely” to buy from retailers who offer full-featured mobile Web sites, provide omni-channel convenience across stores and Web sites, support smartphone shopping apps and offer price comparisons via QR codes.

  • Big ticket items, in particular those that consumers can easily evaluate by reading descriptions, specifications, ratings, and reviews will be the most showroomed items this year.
  • 7 to 13% of consumer electronics shoppers will use their smartphones at least once in stores this season; showrooming activities will touch 1.4% of consumer electronic sales.
  • Apparel and footwear is the second most heavily showroomed category. Between 4 and 8% of shoppers will showroom this category this year affecting about 1% of its sales.
  • 64% think what they’ll learn in the store with their smartphones will have at least as much influence on their decision as what they’ll learn online before coming into the store
  • 56-60% of shoppers with their smartphones in-hand say that they will be “more likely” or “much more likely” to buy what they find in the store as they shop this season when assisted by trustworthy knowledgeable store associates.
  • 41% of showrooming shoppers say that they will be “more likely” or “much more likely” to rely on their smartphones when they encounter retailers who offer private or exclusive merchandise.

You can check out a bit more on this at http://www.idc-ri.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23789012

Here is an awesome chart from Accenture:

Retail is getting quite complicated.

Webman

Price Check Please!

Before all the awesome technology that we now have at our disposal, cashiers would yell out to someone in the store “Price Check Please” and someone would come up to the register, take a look at the product, go back to the aisle to find a similar product and then hurry (In some cases) back to the register to provide the correct price or to confirm.  Usually this was followed by “Spill in Aisle 5”. 🙂

Well, things have certainly changed.  As we know, products are scanned via a UPC (Universal Product Code), we present coupons that are also scanned using a bar code (either on our smartphones or by handing over a coupon) or using a QR (Quick Response) code to redeem our deal or special offer.  When on-line we use promotional codes that we have access to via our e-mail or through a quick search to find one that may be active.  Most on-line commerce sites provide an area for promotional codes at check-out.  These have become a standard for most on-line shoppers looking for a better deal; and aren’t we all.

When visiting a brick and mortar store, we have access to price check kiosks where we can scan an item for the price and other details, such as nutritional, before we get to the register to check-out.  We also have access to in-store hand held devices that enable us to scan all of our products while we shop and to access our frequent shopper history so that we know what we purchased in the past, what specials we can use, product and nutritional recommendations and many other “benefits” for the customer – as you know there is huge benefit for the retailer as they learn more and more about your behavior so they can improve the relevance of their communications with you.

And then of course we have these incredible smartphones that not only give us information and pricing about that product in that store, but also the price for that same product in competitive local retailers and for on-line retailers as well.  The power to find the best price sits in the palm of your hand.  Retailers are certainly responding to this “threat” in different ways.

Last holiday season for example, Amazon offered shoppers $5 to scan items in retail stores and to send that information back to Amazon so that they could understand the local competitive market pricing and make sure they had the best price.  Amazon’s Price Check app, which is available for iPhone and Android, allows shoppers to scan a bar code, take a picture of an item or conduct a text search to find the lowest prices. Amazon is also asking consumers to submit the prices of items with the app, so Amazon knows if it is still offering the best prices.  Now that is proactive “crowdsourcing” at its best.

Some retailers, like Target, are encouraging that behavior, giving shoppers gift cards and other rewards for checking in and scanning merchandise. Others, like Best Buy, are doing their best prevent it, even going so far as to strip the standard bar codes on products to discourage shoppers from running price comparisons with other retailers.

Empathica, recently issued a survey among 6,500 U.S. Internet users — a little more than half (52%) of whom identified as smartphone owners — to take a closer look at how they’re using mobile in stores. Impressively, 55% of smartphone owners said they’ve used a mobile device to compare prices between retailers. Thirty-four percent said they’ve scanned a QR code, and 27% have read online reviews from their devices before making purchase decisions.  Empathica provides Customer Experience Management programs to more than 200 of the world’s leading brands.

According to Empathica’s survey, here is how consumers are using their smartphones in store:

What your customer and prospect can now do while in your store is revolutionary.  You want to win?  Make sure you give your shoppers with what they need to engage.  It is no longer just about the product, but about the entire experience and how the shopper expresses themselves about you.

Let me know what you think about this post by commenting below.

Webman

Alert the Media!

An all time classic funny movie is Arthur.  The film starred Dudley Moore as the eponymous Arthur Bach, a drunken New York City millionaire who is on the brink of an arranged marriage to a wealthy heiress, but ends up falling for a common working-class girl from Queens.  Hobson, Arthur’s butler was played by Sir John Gielgud.  Throughout the movie, Hobson banters in a great way with Arthur.  Here is one of their classic exchanges:

Arthur: Hobson?
Hobson: Yes.
Arthur: Do you know what I’m going to do?
Hobson: No, I don’t.
Arthur: I’m going to take a bath.
Hobson: I’ll alert the media.
Arthur: [rises] Do you want to run my bath for me?
Hobson: That’s what I live for.

Well how about the media alerting you to great deals available on products that you are interested in purchasing.  Now that would be cool.  Well it is here now.

Digital Folio is a web-wide shopping application that functions as a browser add-on for Firefox and Internet Explorer; it also has mobile and Facebook versions. The application appears as a sidebar within the browser and lets shoppers make shopping lists by simply dragging a product’s link into the sidebar. These shopping lists have real time price updates which can be tracked while shopping.

More interesting is the application’s Price Compare feature. When a listing or product page is visited with Price Compare open (currently only available for Amazon, Best Buy, Sears, Target, and Walmart) it will automatically populate any eligible products into the sidebar and the retailer with the lowest price is highlighted. (This insight was sourced from our friends at www.retailnetgroup.com)

These capabilities are getting better all the time.  More cash in our pockets.  Now that is a good thing 🙂

Webman