Have you ever used a smartphone to help you shop, while you were in a store?
Twenty percent of people say they have, and for many of us the experience is often less than satisfying. It’s a growing concern that the only thing mobile technology is doing for retailers like Best Buy and Wal-mart , is turn them into glorified showroom floors for Amazon .
It’s time for big-box retailers to get smart about mobile technology. Customers are ready for smart in-store shopping experiences aided by mobile technology. I’m talking about a future where “smart” shopping apps will thoroughly understand every product on a store’s shelf; they will deeply understand each individual customer: their wants, needs and interest. And from the moment the shopper enters that store these smart apps will help them to discover, evaluate and buy products that are the best fit for them.
Here are five ways that I predict in-store shopping will change in the next few years, and I think you’ll agree that these changes will make the mobile shopping experience of today look like child’s play in comparison.
1. Automatic Check-In That Actually Knows You
When a shopper walks through the door of a retail store with a virtual shopping assistant (which is their cell phone or tablet computer, and a smart app), their cell phone will automatically check them in to the store. The store’s database will update that shopper’s smart app so it knows that customer’s name, their purchase history, their return history, their buying preferences, and social history. This information will be used by the smart app to calculate various customer loyalty “rewards” that can manifest in the form of redeemable points or cash discounts that a customer will receive while they are in the store.
Customer notifications might be something as simple as, “Congratulations, you’ve just earned a $10 discount (worth 500 reward points) on your purchase because you’ve shopped here every week for the past month!” It might also say, “We’re giving you a $5.00 discount on your purchase today because you told your friend Jason about us on Twitter and he became a customer!” It could also be social: “You and your friend Tammy just entered the store. If either of you buy a purse from our new Fall collection today, we’ll give you both a 50% discount.”
2. Personalized In-Store Product Discovery
Think of every product you’ve ever purchased that you’re actually happy with. Now imagine everything you purchase from now on being that good, but infinitely easier to find. There are two types of information needed to make that happen: the first is information about you, and the second is information that relates to every product that you might be likely to buy in a store. The job of pairing the two will be done by A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) engines that will be able to find products that will meet your exact needs and wants. Your smart app will then be able to identify these items in a store, and guide you to them.
3. Augmented Reality, and Product Evaluation