What Happened To Place? The One Dimensional Storefront
While the new, new thing in handsets dominates headlines, another story is taking shape. The Amazon and Barnes and Noble tablets are changing the game. In terms of tablets, well sure, having two, low-price, small-form-factor alternatives to the iPad and similarly high-priced Android Honeycomb tablets is great, they’ll sell a lot of units, but the real story here is how two retailers are using tablets to change their place in the shopper’s home. I’ve talked about how three of the “4 P’s of marketing” will change. Death of the first shifting “P,” place, begins now. This is part two in a series of posts
The ability to use mobile devices to interact with retailers extends well beyond the store. When UK retailer Tesco was seeking to increase the wallet share of its HomePlus stores among South Korean shoppers, it sought a mobile centric strategy. Using mobile phones as the transaction point, the company set up a number of new stores without building a single one. The retailer has created billboards that replicate store shelves, providing each product with a unique QR code. Buyers can scan the code with their mobile device, purchase the item and have it shipped to their home. The retailer saw online sales jump 130% from pre- to post-launch. In addition to driving revenue and customer engagement, the retailer time- and place-shifted grocery shopping to take place where users were, launching the virtual store shelves in train stations for commuters’ use.
I was recently briefed by payment company eWise who is working with electronic payments association NACHA (the people that bring you ACH debit-based transactions) to expand its network of direct-from-bank payments to merchants from consumers’ bank accounts. The company is focused on QR as one of many technologies but is agnostic as to the mode of payment (being it QR codes, NFC etc.)
While the Tesco example may seem space-age to us in the US where more people still have feature phones than smartphones, but the point is change is afoot. Retailers and others not ready to meet their customer on mobile will find themselves left behind. These strategies are not are technology bets. They’re realizations that the way we shop is fundamentally changing and while they come from markets that may be more advanced than ours, these changes in buyer behavior are coming and coming fast to the homefront. Take a look at the data provided by Google and ThinkMobile, users are increasingly relying on their devices not just at home, but on-the-go and, rounding out the top three, in stores.
Data from thinkmobile/Google study showing locations of smartphone use, source.
The ability to develop new and novel ways to caters to shoppers is not a nice to have, it’s a must-have. I’ll be looking into how retailers are doing it – both well and poorly – in my upcoming report on the topic. As “place” goes away as a physical necessity for discovery and procurement of goods, how strong is your company’s mobile strategy? Is it cross-platform, is it integrated with things like supply chain, ecommerce and loyalty? Are you ready to take it beyond the proverbial walls of a simple, native app and provide an information feed to the myriad tools topping the lists of shopping apps on Android, Apple and BlackBerry marketplaces today? Odds are, not 100% and the clock is ticking. 40 days until Christmas… tick, tick, tick.