The day that we all become as tech-savvy and suave as Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible is fast approaching. How do I know? A few years after a Cruise movie is on the big screen, his cool gadgets are for sale in a store near you. Don’t believe me? Just watch any 24-hour cable news show and you will see that they are all using the same multi-touch wall display that Tom Cruise first popularized in the movie, Minority Report.
Now, Google is saying that we can be just like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible with the release of his iconic sunglasses that project information onto the lens. Can you imagine it? You could be walking around New York City with turn by turn navigation, getting information on local restaurants, activities, even places your friends have recently checked in on Foursquare or Facebook, all while strolling along, looking up instead of down at a phone (or a map… remember those?!).
The fervor and excitement this device is creating has endless potential. I think a product like this will influence how retailers reach out to shoppers. For example, in the future, the customer won’t be sitting at home, miles away from a store location…they will be right outside your door searching for products on their sleek Mission-Impossible-sunglasses. As a result of this change, more focused local or location-based advertising will begin to replace the need for expansive mass media campaigns.
The shift to more personalized advertising is already taking place with the rapid popularization of the smartphone. According to our Consumer Pulse report: How Smartphones are Changing the Retail Shopping Experience, released last year, over half of all smartphone owners use their device when shopping in a retail store. Currently, retailers are wary of these customers as “show roomers” who will go in store to browse, but who make their purchases online to find a better price.
Instead of worrying, retailers need to take action and realize that these tech advancements in shopping can be used to their advantage to create a personalized shopping experience. Leveraging data already collected from loyalty programs or Point of Sale can provide shoppers with a compelling reason to make their purchases in a retail store, creating and providing a seamless and elevated experience for the buyer. The resources to make this experience a reality are available; retailers have the data, it is just a matter of learning how to use it effectively.
Someday, when we are all like Tom Cruise and wearing spy-like glasses, advertising will need to be personalized and relevant to the individual. Such a marketing technique will draw people in, breaking through the mass noise and bombardment of content available all around you. No longer will accurate advertising and recommendation-engine results be relegated to online sites alone—it will be a part of your everyday life, maybe even programmed into your sunglasses.
What do you think? Will mobile technology transform the retail shopping experience?
Posted by Kirsten Rasmuson, Kirsten is a Senior Project Manager on CMB’s Retail practice. She’s looking forward to welcoming our new robot overlords.
A quick note to retailers out there: according to our latest CMB Consumer Pulse report your smartphone-packing customers are doing their homework while standing in the store aisle (hopefully yours). The kind of homework they’re doing is largely dependent upon the types of variables and demographics you’ve come to expect, particularly age and gender. Men, for example, are more likely to use their phone to check product reviews while women are more likely to look for discounts. If the shopper has an iPhone, they are almost certainly using it to help them make a decision about their purchase – more than 70% of them said as much.
What this tells us is that gone are the days of 2008…when brick and mortar retailers merely had to worry about competing with online retailers when shoppers were in front of a PC. Once at the mall, comparison shopping involved walking (or worse, driving) to a different store, finding the right aisle & shelf, locating the item, and then checking the price. For lower ticket items, that’s an awful lot of hassle to potentially save a few dollars. For higher ticket items, it’s just a lot of hassle.
No more. Now, shoppers only need to fire up their phone’s web browser or one of the countless purpose built apps to do all of that legwork. Really. All of the legwork. Our study showed that shoppers were using smartphones in-store to do everything from comparing prices of products and services to making a purchase.
Over the last few years, analysts have warned retailers that stores may become product showrooms where the shopper uses the aisle for testing purposes and is agnostic to where and when the purchase is made. In fact, some have gone so far as to predict that this type of behavior will “lead to a new definition of the store; purpose, place and size are all up for debate
.” How it all pans out remains to be seen.
But it’s not all bad news for retailers. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. If shoppers are becoming agnostic to the in-store experience, it is incumbent upon the retailer to adjust the experience as necessary. And it’s worth noting the responsibility doesn’t fall just to retailers – product manufacturers need to connect with their distribution partners to “take advantage of opportunities [smartphones] provide for generating sales and improving the customer experience.” This type of partnership should address signage, packaging, displays, and smartphone based communication strategies that stop the shopper in their tracks. Going forward, we believe all of these tactics to be necessary elements of retail planning.
Download our latest Consumer Pulse report for additional findings around the impact of the mobile shopper.
Posted by Brian Neville-O’Neill. Brian is part of CMB’s marketing team and spends quite a bit of time reading and writing about market research. When he’s not busy doing that (or shopping on his smartphone) he is secretly anticipating the arrival of Battle LA, a soon to be released alien-robot invasion movie.