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


41% of Super Bowl ad searches during game made via mobile

Google released data from Sunday evening which reveals that 41% of searches relating to Super Bowl ads made during the game came from mobile devices!

A post on the company’s blog states that this is up from 25% for the same time period on the day before.

However, none of the ads made it into the list of the top five trending searches:

Halftime show
Tom Brady

The most popular commercials in terms of Google searches were ads from Acura, GoDaddy and M&M’s.

Most of the ads were previewed on YouTube in the weeks building up to the big game, cumulatively clocking up more than 30m views before last weekend.

YouTube said the pre-Super Bowl activity in 2012 was higher than in 2011 and spread across significantly more brands.

This was also the first year that the Super Bowl was live streamed online and Google said there was a significant spike in searches related to Super Bowl live streaming at kickoff, with searches made predominantly on desktop, followed by mobile and then tablet.

Steve Rockman

3 Digital Trends To Watch In 2012

When you read about the CES happenings this week, two technologies dominated the show. Television and tablet technologies. How will these technologies affect how we interact each day? I believe there are 3 changes and or advancements these two technologies will have a major impact on.

1. Social TV. Contrary to some early reports about the effect of social media on eroding the television viewing audience, people are now watching more TV than ever. Just not necessarily sitting on a couch and connected my a cord to a cable connection. And because of social media, they’re more engaged in what they watch, we go to Twitter and Facebook with reactions in real-time. To the tune of millions of tweets and posts per second, in some cases. To the tune of 9420 tweets about Tebow per second when he throw the game winning touchdown last week.

The TV ad business is a $90+ billion and tech companies, social media firms, TV hardware companies, mobile carriers, and everyone else wants a piece. All this social TV engagement will help grow that revenue. It will drive participation in social shopping. And it will makes or break new shows, stars, and even commercials.

2. Gamification. Consumer engagement with gamified activities has exploded. What’s gamification? Really no different than the loyalty programs we are use too, but today we will see the integration of social sharing and the opportunity to make real dollars from these interactions. Consider that in the fantasy sports arena alone there are now more than 30 million Americans spending an estimated $800 million a year on their make-believe franchises. Gamification finds new ways to make money.

Gamification encourages people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, or reading your web site.

3. Location-based entertainment. NFC (Near Field Communications) will integrate and change the way we interact with our mobile devices. They will begin to be proactive knowing what we want and they will deliver what we want when we are a near a place we can get what we want.

The real benefit to a brand is the unprecedented amounts of data about these consumers that is generated via social and location based engagement. That geo-targeted or even geo-fencing data is used to research and identify segments of the fan base to launch geo-targeted ad campaigns and custom messaging according to each micro-demographic.

2012 will be an exciting year and the age of shareable, personalized content will explode. We will begin to see the changes in how we communicate, finally in an impactful manner.

Steve Rockman

Going Mobile Basics

Lately I have been asked a lot about mobile. Specifically, “Should I Have a Mobile Website or a build an APP?” If you are getting an answer to this question you are talking to the wrong people. The right answer that you should be receiving is that the decision is not Web APP or Native APP. There are more than 2 options! Technically there are 4 possible mobile options you should consider.

Native apps, which are coded with a specific programming language (Objective C for iOS, Java for Android). These mobile applications are fast, reliable, and powerful but are tied to a mobile platform. That means you must duplicate them using the appropriate programming language in order to target another mobile platform. Nearly all games are native apps.

Hybrid apps, which rely on development frameworks like Sencha, PhoneGap, Titanium, Rhomobile, ParticleCode, Corona, Mosync, Worklight, BkRender. These mobile apps offer a very interesting compromise because they ensure cross-platform compatibility and can access the phone’s hardware (camera, GPS, user’s contacts). IGN’s mobile social network Dominate is just such a hybrid app.

Dedicated web app, which is a mobile web site tailored to a specific platform or form factor, like the LinkedIn web app which was designed for Android and iOS, but not for other smartphones or feature phones.

Generic mobile app, which are mobile web sites designed to match every web-enabled phone, like the Wikipedia mobile page.

Ok, that gets complicated. How do you know what best to do? Good question. There is no best choice. It’s all about context, and that is evolving very quickly. What I know is that: If your mobile application is mainly used to display and interact with online content or services, avoid the native choice. On the other hand, if your application is mainly used offline, a native app will offer a better user experience.

In either case, what you should remember is that mobile is not only about choosing between web and native apps. It requires a more sophisticated approach. Here’s my advice to help you define an effective mobile strategy:

1. Build an API infrastructure to allow easy and reliable access to your content and services.
2. If you decide to use native apps, hire or train an internal team on major mobile platforms’ technologies (iOS, Android) and use sub-contractors for minor mobile platforms (RIM)
3. Don’t try to replicate your entire web site. Rethink your offer on a local level and focus on what brings most value in a mobile context.

To simplify a bit more lets compare Native APP to Web APP:

Native Apps: Must be downloaded from something like the iTunes Store, the Android Market, the Amazon Appstore, or a similar service. Native apps play locally on an iPhone, iPad, or other device. That means they ‘execute’ on your system not on a remote web server. In general, native apps provide the most options for rich media and interactivity.

Web Apps: Highly interactive web-based programs, such as the reservation system at American Airlines (, provide app-like experiences from a web site. Web apps play in a web browser over a network (for example: wifi or 3G). Web apps require advanced programming skills.

If you want to reach anyone, anytime, anywhere …

Native Apps: Most native apps require a relatively high-speed connection or a long wait for the initial download. After an app is downloaded, some can play anywhere, anytime, but many apps are designed to download additional information, such as GPS coordinates or news updates and require a connection for the latest information.

Web Apps: Web apps require users to be connected, but if done well, they don’t require a very fast connection and they can be updated in real time very efficiently. All web apps essentially run a program on a remote web server. Lose that connection, and you get nothing.

If you want to publish to many devices at once …

Native Apps: When you develop apps you have to create a version for each operating system. That means a different version for each of the following:
• Apple iPad / iPhone
• Google Android ‘Droid’
• Blackberry
• Windows Mobile
• and more …
Watch the growth of HTML 5 to solve this problem.

Web Apps: If you’re focused on the latest in tablet and touchscreen devices, you can do a lot with a web app. If you want to reach the broadest audience, you’ll want to deliver just the right version to each device using device detection and content adaptation.

If you want to spend as little money as possible …

Native Apps: At the high end, you can easily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars developing rich-media interactive apps, especially when you factor in all the video, animation, and other assets that make games and other applications visually appealing — and popular. Creating an app for the iPhone or iPad can cost anything from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the complexity.

Web Apps: A team of programmers and other specialists builds most web apps. Sites like Gmail and Twitter represent hundreds of thousands of development hours. At the entry level, you can create many rich web app features with JavaScript, jQuery, or jTouch. At the high end, you can do almost anything these days if you have the time, budget, and programming expertise.

Steve Rockman

Engaging The Social User Via Mobile

• Increase Your Likes and Comments – Find the evangelists. Marketers should focus on targeting the core of their community. Engage with your core audience to get better engagement.
• Text & Images – Mobile users are engaging mostly with text and image based posts. Don’t overcomplicate your mobile plans –
keep it simple.
• Be Engaging – Be conscious of the length of the post and try and keep the post length short and sweet. Remember that your community is engaging with your brand from a mobile device – shorter is better!
• Day & Time – Day & Time of posts are critical, then refine over time to build the best community. Understand that later in the week typically does the best, but test and learn within your community to find the best engagement days.
• The highest spike is at 3pm EST, which equates to noon/lunchtime PST
• 11am EST is also 8am PST, so we see a spike at 11am EST when west coast is coming online in the morning
• 8pm EST post and commenting spike accounts for post-dinner time and 5pm PST checking in before people leave work.
• Test – Test different posting times and gauge your community engagement.
• !!! – Be careful about overusing exclamation marks in posts. Keep emphasis based punctuation to a minimum. Your community is savvy and knows what messages are important, you don’t need to scream at them.
• Ensure your marketing strategy includes tactics for when both mobile and non-mobile engagement is highest. As an example, using an image post, as opposed to a text or video post, will garner better engagement from both non-mobile and mobile users on Saturday late at night, Sunday early morning or in the afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday.

Steve Rockman

3 Great New iPhone Apps

During November, iPhone app downloads surged 83% over last year.

App downloads are expected to climb even higher as more consumers purchase the iPhone. Analysts predict as many as 30 million iPhones could be shipped in the first quarter of 2012.

Here are three new or recently updated programs to check out.

Wenzani is a new mobile travel guide that makes suggestions for places to eat, shop and bar-hop based on recommendations from friends, experts and other guide brands like Frommers and Lonely Planet.
Besides having access to expert recommendations, the app also has a social component. Through Wenzani, you can ask friends for real-time travel recommendations via Facebook or Twitter. Answers are then pushed instantly to your phone.
In the future, Wenzani’s developers say that you’ll be able to tailor your recommendations depending on the weather, time of year, etc. — for example, the app will eventually know not to suggest visiting a particular park if it’s raining in the area.

Stamped is a new recommendation app — founded by former Google(GOOG) employees — designed to cut down on the clutter found through services like Yelp. Stamped’s founders believe that users are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know rather than complete strangers.
Once you sign up for Stamped, you received 100 virtual stamps that you use to mark your approval on restaurants, books, music and TV shows. You can then find friends on the app to follow by connecting through Facebook and scanning through your address book. Users earn more points when their friends “like” what you recommend.
Stamped also lets you make reservations through OpenTable(OPEN), buy movie tickets through Fandango and purchase books via Amazon(AMZN).

Flipboard is one of the most downloaded iPad apps since its launch last year, and its new iPhone app has been quickly gaining traction, too. Demand for the app was so high that it reportedly crashed the company’s servers as more than 1 million users downloaded Flipboard in its first week.
Flipboard is a digital magazine personalized to your tastes and interests. In an asethetically-pleasing layout similar to what you see in a printed magazine, the app displays relevant links from your social networks (Twitter and Facebook) as well as other content you might like based on your categories of choice (i.e. business, style, travel, etc.). Flipboard gradually learns what you might be interested in viewing based on your reading history, tailoring the articles you see.
Once the app populates with links, you can “flip” to the next piece of content by swiping upwards.
Flipboard is one of the best content viewing and sharing apps, though the app’s focus on design lends itself better to the iPad’s larger screen.

Steve Rockman

The Future Of Your Smartphone

This is a summary of how I think,smartphones of the future (2015 – 2020) could change.
1. More AI and speech recognition and better gesture control
2. Context awareness and more integration with sensors and other phones
3. Different display options (rollable displays, better picoprojectors and more)
4. Increased processing power and better energy efficiency and management