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Increasingly, shoppers expect mobile information to connect the shopping they do from their mobile devices to their in-store endeavors, enhancing, personalizing, and streamlining the entire process. A recent survey found that retailers are coming to realize the need to marry remote and in-store shopping, primarily by “tech-ing up.” According to the study, three in four US retailers agree that “developing a more engaging in-store customer experience is going to be critical to their business in the next 5 years.”
As part of one of our current studies on the future of next-gen retail we conducted an idea generation activity using the image tagging tool, ThingLink, to explore how people expect and desire mobile information to enhance their shopping experiences and to help them discover new things. Latitude was able distill participants’ “future requests” down into four need state categories, which can be satisfied by four corresponding mobile “team members” (personified mobile apps or features) that could address shoppers’ needs at various times.
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Next-Gen Retail Needs
- Subject Expert (The Need: “Professional” Expertise)
A number of participants suggested apps or features that would provide them with expert knowledge to help inform their purchasing decisions. When it comes to shopping and enabling discoveries, mobile information should be thought of as more than just traditional advertising. Most people cited a need for inspiration or confirmation of their purchasing decisions from someone in-the-know. Retailers should fill this gap by stepping in to provide relevant access to “expertise” at the right moment.
- Stylist (The Need: Personalization)
The information that retailers provide should be as personalized as possible, online but also in-store (e.g., depending on where you are in the store, for example). A recent survey predicts that almost half of retailers plan to provide personalized product information to shoppers’ smartphones based on previous behavior, within the next 5 years. Taking this opportunity even further, one participant in our activity suggested, “I want an automated system to take a photo of everything I’m wearing at the moment I walk in the store and then suggest a route tailored to similar items.”
- Assistant (The Need: Efficiency)
While information provided in-store (such as via kiosks) and via mobile can shorten the path to purchase, many participants described new, even quicker ways to find a product and purchase, including: cloud-based branded apps for bookmarking products that one would scan in-store, instant price comparison apps, and self-check-out apps that reduce frustration and give shoppers more control.
- Local (The Need: Curated Information)
Advances in technology (like augmented reality, RFID, etc.) that meld on and offline spaces provide people with new ways to discover things and places that surround them. Participants in our activity want more than general advertisements via text, though; they’re looking for personalized, location-based triggers when they bike by a place of interest, or overlays on their turn-by-turn navigation that could point them to the “little-known gems” in their neighborhoods. Retailers and businesses should work to focus on personally and contextually relevant communications, connecting their potential customers’ preferences to real-time location so that they can create a form of technologically enhanced serendipity.
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