Mobile Technology Disrupting the In-Store Experience

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend North Highland’s first Disruption Symposium held in St. Louis. Business leaders spent the day discussing trends that will disrupt their current models and how to stay ahead. During a panel discussion about Marketing in a Mobile World, one panelist made the point that the iPhone – an integral part of many of our lives – is not even 10 years old.

In the early 2000s, a “smart” phone was one that had a QWERTY keyboard to make texting and emailing easier. BlackBerrys were all the rage in the business world but were mainly used to keep connected after hours. In 15 years, we’ve gone from a basic communication device to a very intelligent one that is often within feet – if not millimeters – of its owner. Why does this matter?

The growing pervasiveness of mobile technology in our lives is causing a major disruption that businesses can – and should – take advantage of.

A mobile device has the ability to know a lot about its owner. When do you wake up? What are you interested in? How well did you sleep? Where do you live/work/visit? Who are your friends? Where, when, and what do you eat? What do you buy? The list goes on and on.

With that, businesses will have access to higher fidelity data than ever before. Of course, how to convince users to part with this information and how to gain meaningful insights from it will be key challenges moving forward.

There’s also the development of brick-and-mortar establishments having immediate and real-time access to individuals through beacon technology. These are small, low-powered devices that can connect with an individual’s mobile device using Bluetooth or NFC protocols when within a certain range. The technology allows companies to pinpoint where customers are in a store and serve up content through push notifications.

Between instant coupons, promotions for new items, product reviews, and bundle options, mobile technology levels the playing field between online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores to help combat the showrooming effect. Interactions with in-store customers can be tailored to an individual in real time.

The foundation for leveraging this technology to success is responsible use. If customers feel they are manipulated by a company they will not be inclined to share information or even use products. However, if a business can provide benefits to an individual in a meaningful way, the individual is likely to share information and access with the company.

Obviously, data analysis is not new to businesses. However, the ability to pair this new information surplus with both general and very specific in-store locational information is a unique and very powerful combination. Retailers in particular must get creative to gain insights about their in-store customers.

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One Response

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  1. Tim Ward
    Aug 05, 2015 - 10:39 AM

    Thanks for the post, Steve! This is exciting to think about in light of the upcoming wave of new Wi-FI Aware devices. I’m looking forward to seeing what new opportunities this will create for retailers to connect consumers with personalized experiences… and perhaps even with each other.