Tech Effect On Shopping

Without a doubt technology makes our lives better, simpler, easier. It allows us to be more effective and efficient in everything we do. Whether that is on our jobs or in our homes, technology is everywhere. And now it is changing the way we chop.

In-person shopping is being transformed by technology in ways that make us smarter shoppers. That includes finding features and benefits about products, reading reviews, asking our friends what they thing and even shopping for best price. Technology is enabling consumers to be in charge.

Technology is everywhere in the retail experience and that goes beyond the Internet and Mobile technology. Impressive inventions that will transform the in-person shopping experience, making it more interactive, personalized and helpful are on their way. These include intelligent mirrors (“Magic Mirrors) that can display how an outfit will look on you (without actually trying it on). This technology will suggest accessories and point you in the direction of similar items. If your product isn’t in stock, you will be able to make it with a 3D printer. Yes, consumers can use 3D printing technology to create their own products on the spot, such as towels, utensils and clothes. No room for an actual store, set-up product vending machines to act as your store. We see this being done by technology giants Best Buy, Apple and Sony.

Nothing is changing the experience more that the Internet and that means on your desktop and on your phone. Retailers are launching apps that enable shoppers to browse merchandise, scan bar codes or QR codes to learn more about products and inventory, and with the help of near field communication (NFC), pay for purchases.

As consumers get smarter so must your sales associates by putting technology (mobile) in hands of associates. Mobile devices and tablets will allow associates to check prices and inventory. Mobile will enable associates to check shoppers out anywhere in the store, see and Apple and Nordstrom stores.

The tech effect is everywhere and cannot be stopped. It is the retailer’s job to understand the technology, create a strategy around the technology, invest in the technology and embrace the technologies that will have a positive impact your operation.

By Steve Rockman

Mobile Shopping Trends

Without a doubt the biggest challenge retailers have heading into this “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” is how to deal with are the challenges / opportunities mobile devices pose. 2007’s launch of the iPhone changed the way shopping would be done in the future.

Today the iPhone has spurred on a smartphone industry that includes; iPhones, Android and Microsoft devises and even Blackberry is making a comeback. We see consumers carrying both phone and tablet technology into retail spaces, but maybe even more importantly they are using these devises to shop from, home, the office, the car and even while walking. Smartphone sales have even overtaken the sales of PC’s.

According to Nielsen’s “”Who is the mobile shopper” report, as of Q1 2013, 84 percent of mobile consumers have used their devices to shop within the past month, which is up by 5 percent compared to the same quarter from last year. Some of these mobile shoppers even stated that they do their online shopping mostly on their mobile devices than on their PCs.

There are a myriad of studies that will point to growth of smartphone sales or increases in mobile transactions, which is all to point out that retailers and product marketers need to be studying, planning and developing plans around the mobile consumer. There are many challenges that face the mobile marketer today. What is the role of this technology to your business or how do you learn and capitalize on the features within the phone?

The first question that needs to be addressed is how do we balance in-store sales with digital sales. In a report from Business Insider, it was stated that brick-and-mortar stores are in danger because of “showrooming”. Showrooming is consumer going to brick and mortar location to see a product then going online to buy that product. And not necessarily from the retailers digital location.

Last year, JC Penny reported a 32 percent decline in same-store sales because of showrooming, and it is expected that the numbers would just get worse as more people embrace mobile shopping.

Why is this happening?
1. Digital is open 24/7/365
2. Online price comparisons

Rest assured all is not lost. There are a few trends that will allow for marketers to be in the mobile game.

Trend 1 – Geofencing & NFC (Near Field Communications)
Geofencing technology allows for the real-time delivery of promotions to consumers right on their mobile devices when they are in the vincinity of a retailers location. Consumers just have to be at the right spot, like a few feet away from a retail store, to receive relevant notifications. To get the discount or free item, they just need to present the promo code or the message they received from their phone. This technology will get people back in retail stores, hopefully enticing people to buy more items from the shop.

Near-Field Communication (NFC), is also rocketing into the mainstream. This technology allows mobile users to transfer information from their mobile devices to card readers in a store that supports NFC which will allow customers to pay with their mobile phones. Experts expects NFC to be the most widely used mobile payment solution by 2015.

Trend 2 – Price Comparison Will Become Automated, Reviews Will Be Centralized
Shoppers want to know that they are getting the best possible price before they make a purchase. Already there are dozens of mobile apps that help shoppers make price comparisons. Look for future applications to use information about a person’s tastes or buying habits to automate price comparison.

After price comparisons, mobile shoppers are likely to look for user reviews before making a buying decision regardless of whether they are planning to order online or pick up an item from a brick-and-mortar store.

Look for review sites that consolidate reviews to emerge. This will offer shoppers the option to see product or vendor reviews from a number of sources through a single interface on their phone.

Trend 3 – Social Media Via Mobile
Consumers need advise, opinion, research and help with decision-making on their purchases. They are doing this through social media. Social media integration and intelligent assistants like Apple’s Siri on mobile devices are expected to offer the same user experience as home computers. Consumers are taking pictures in your locations, they are posting, they are looking for reviews and they are asking opinion.

It is the marketers responsibility to have an active social media presence and provide the information the consumers is looking for in a easy to find, accurate, no-frills, none selling manner. Have a social footprint on all social channels and treat those channels as a sales associate.

Trend 4 – Mobile As Point-Of-Sale
Consumers are already using their mobile devices to research products and compare prices. So, mobile transactions are an obvious next requirement from the mobile consumer. Mobile must become a part of point-of-sale for brick-and-mortar stores, improving customers’ in-store shopping experience.

Major retailers are planning to offer mobile POS soon that will allow customers to find what they are looking for, to get more information about the product, and to make cashless purchases from their phones.

Trend 5 – QR Code Revolution
QR codes are not this writers favorite tactic, but research shows a resurgence. Quick Response (QR) codes are already being used by quite a few brands, but 2013 will be the year that most companies start creating and offering the smartphone-scannable tech to shoppers. The codes can provide offers in-store and online, as well as offer additional product information from the Internet about the products.

Trend 6 – Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) is another exciting mobile technology trend. Marketers can create AR applications that let customers to point their mobile cameras at products to obtain relevant information about the products, such as reviews and discounts.

Mobile shopping is in its infancy, but rest assured it is not going away and it is transforming the shopping experience. The key for marketers and businesses it to embrace the changes that mobile brings you. Understand early, that the consumer owns your brand and it’s your job to supply the consumer with the brand experience they want. Lastly, remember mobile is just another channel and that technology unto itself does nothing!

By Steve Rockman

Yahoo Buys Tumblr…Don’t Screw It Up!!!

So Yahoo bought Tumblr. Good for them. New CEO Marissa Mayer gets it! Now please don’t screw it up!!!!
The good news is that Tumblr will  independently operated as a separate business. David Karp will remain CEO.

From Yahoo!’s press release we learn:

– Tumblr has more than 300 million monthly unique visitors.

– 120,000 signups every day.

– Earns 900 posts per second and 24 billion minutes spent on site each month.

– On mobile, more than half of Tumblr’s users are using the mobile app and do an average of 7 sessions per day.

– 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day).

The deal was for approximately $1.1 billion. “Tumblr is redefining creative expression online,” said Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. “On many levels, Tumblr and Yahoo! couldn’t be more different, but, at the same time, they couldn’t be more complementary. Yahoo is the Internet’s original media network. Tumblr is the Internet’s fastest-growing media frenzy.”

“I’ve long held the view that in all things art and design, you can feel the spirit and demeanor of the creator. That’s why it was no surprise to me that David Karp is one of the nicest, most empathetic people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most perceptive, capable entrepreneurs I’ve ever worked with,” continued Mayer. “David’s respect for Tumblr’s community of creators is awesome. I’m absolutely delighted to have him join our team.”

So the internet or at least this small part of it goes back to being about creativity and expression. The future of creativity gets saved once again.

Thank you!!!



Your Brand Will Be Owned By “Y”

You have spent years marketing your brand. You have worked with your ad agency and PR firm. You have dabbled online and your brand has value. But does it have value to the new consumer? They are the consumer know as Generation Y. They are Millennial’s and they were born between 1980 and 2000.

Everything you thought you were doing right can be thrown out the door. This group doesn’t want to hear from you. They don’t want to be sold to. They don’t trust you! This group (Y) has little to NO attention span. They are berated with messaging all day, everyday and have learned to tune you out. They haven’t grown up yet, as they are still living at home with no real job and not much drive to find a real job, however they are very close to their families.

They don’t know what life is like without a computer and they are even finding computers antiquated. Choosing to consume media via their phone or tablet. Once upon a time a television show aired on MTV. It was a simple show called “The Real World” and it launched a reality show craze that has been living on for 20 years. This group believes anyone can be a stat and with a camera phone and YouTube they can get their 15 minutes of fame. The Internet and specifically social networks have allowed them to have multiple personalities and to hide behind a screen rather than in person social interaction.

Everything is a “Kodak” moment and they record everything. From their food, clothes, cars, technology, tattoos, boy/girlfriends, what they drink and where they are. They write and comment about products and services. And they share what they think.

So, how does your well-established brand reach this group of consumers? Carefully!

1. Give relevant information, the facts, and save the sales speech. Millennials appreciate honesty and want to know the reality of any, situation. They can handle tough news, as long as they are given options for growth. This realistic frame of mind helps them develop skills and meet expectations. Open and honest communication builds a foundation of trust with leadership, ultimately enhancing Millennials’ commitment to the organization

2. Use technology to reach the millennial both online and mobile. Technology is the be all and end all. The millennial with make all kinds of sacrifices to have technology. They depend on technology for their every need: food, comfort, pleasure, communication, shopping, dating, planning, reading, telling time, etc. Technology reigns supreme and unquestioned. It’s the one thing Millennials think they can’t do without.

3. Use social networking as a medium. Millennials live on social networks. They share, judge, comment and discuss brands and products everyday. Reach Millennials where they are; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to name a few places. Don’t sell them these sites but engage them. Talk to them. Provide them the information they want and need and then get out of their way.

Remember, Millennials don’t wants brands selling to them. They have short attention spans, they are mobile, they love technology and they will talk about you, good or bad.

by Steve Rockman