In a world full of answers you start your journey by asking the right questions
The thing I find interesting about the mobile phone bar code scanners like ShopSavvy and Red Laser is, if they go mainstream, they have the potential to revolutionise retail in much the same way. The only difference is the old retail model was all about Browse with Us, Buy from Us. With the mobile phone bar code scanner this model now becomes Browse with Us, Buy from Them.
If you are in an electronics store and you scan the bar code of a product to check the prices online at Amazon or Wal-Mart then you have reduced the retailer to the role of the old media. Retailing now becomes a 3-D catalog experience that allows you to try before you look elsewhere for the best deal and then you buy.
“Shoppers will soon be able to stand outside the designer Norma Kamali’s boutique in Manhattan, point a phone at merchandise in the window and buy it — even late at night when the store is closed.” New York Times – Cellphones Let Shoppers Point, Click and Purchase
What we are seeing now is an explosion of permission based mobile marketing solutions. All aimed at monitoring the customer’s location and purchasing behavior so that a preemptive strike can be triggered to prevent the Browse with Us, Shop with Them scenario.
But what if all this energy proves futile and in future the big box retailer is no longer a retailer but just a 3-D promotional exhibition hall that allows the customer to try before they buy? What happens if the 3-D exhibitor no longer makes the sale? Do they either charge the manufacturer a rental fee for the space to “advertise” their product or do they receive a “click through” referral fee from the eventual seller thanks to the mobile device being tracked as the customer roams through the exhibits?
What happens to retailing if tomorrows retailers no longer have to be part of the supply chain? What happens if retailing becomes little more than a 3-D “real world” hyper media experience?
You can see now how the smart phone has the potential to radically change the way we shop in the future. Even if retailers remain old fashion retailers there could be a secondary market for split commissions between the exhibitor and the eventually seller based on the tracking of the mobile as you roam around and between the shops.
As I said in the last post Threads are already more important online than the destinations or the strength of the connections between destinations. As the online world merges with the real world then the same rules will apply. Managing, measuring, monitoring and profiting from aggregating these threads of customer activities will become more important than owning the destinations or the relationships (connections).
Retailers have always been in the business of designing Threads of Activities to keep customers sticky. For most the Mobile Phone will be seen as just another media platform that allows them to contact the customer with offers and discount coupons.
Some will see the world differently and it is these retailers of the future who will profit from having customers browse and buy exclusively from them.