One of the neat things about a mobile BI solution in the retail business is that it makes you think about the consumer end of things. iVEDiX is currently attending the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in NYC, and there is some really neat stuff coming out of there. Among the neatest is the vibe we are getting, a vibe that promises to change the way people do their retail shopping.
Beth Schultz wrote a quick post on allanalytics.com, and she makes some interesting statements regarding the future of retail. The future, she says, is not so much about the product as it is about the experience. Smartphone apps will let you get instant coupons the second you enter the store, or let you try on an outfit virtually without waiting for the dressing room to open up. Of course, retailers still want to make the sale. But now — perhaps because of the technology shift, or perhaps because of the rising cynicism of marketing in general — retailers are trying to move away from the hard-sell. It’s not about pushing sales anymore, it’s about putting the customer in a good mood, or letting them get a glimpse of how they would look in something. All of these will, the retailer hopes, increase sales; but they would do so in a more indirect manner.
This change is being ushered in by the rapid deployment of (mostly mobile) technology. When a shopper is in the store, getting that instant coupon feels like instant attention. But it also makes me wonder: does it have to stop there? What other kind of information can the customer get as they are wandering around the store? A person in the BI space might be spolied by having instant access to sales figures by location, or maybe the number of returns in a given year. But what could the consumer do with this information?
Imagine if, from a simple interaction with your mobile device, you could get local pricing information for a product, check to see if it is in stock, and also get product reviews by other customers? If the retail business is all about making shopping an experience, at some point they are going to have to deal with the absolutely massive amount of data that is floating around out there. To some extent, customers can already do the things I listed above, practically any time they want. The problem is, the experience isn’t unified. Retailers might want to consider this, because they shape the narrative that customers will experience in the store. To put it another way: customers in your store can already browse products on their phone, and they can already read customer reviews while walking down the aisle. So what is the retailer doing to direct those activities in a way that is beneficial to them?This goes back to Beth Schultz’s comments about enticing the buyer, and generating an experience that keeps people in the store. Big Data and mobile interaction are the next waves of retail, but like all waves they won’t stop there. Already, people are putting Big Data to use in their daily lives, and it doesn’t take much imagination to see how this will impact shopping. Will retailers be quick enough in getting ahead of the curve? How would you like to see Big Data used in your shopping experiences?