We asked one of our advisors, Haley Rushing, to give us her opinion about the future of retailing. She has worked in a local ad agency in Austin for 16 years and much of that time was dealing with retailers. She has been involved in hundreds of focus groups with customers of her clients. So her opinion on the future of retailing is well grounded in feedback from shoppers. Here is what she had to say:
The essence of her comment is: "When I think about the future of retail, you have low cost providers on the one hand like the Walmarts and you have high end customer services/experience-driven brands like Nordstroms. Then you have this vast sea of retailers in the middle...and all of them that aren't built around a highly differentiated customer service proposition or a really over the top in-store experience or low cost model--they need competitive weapons at their disposal or it's going to be really hard to compete going forward.
iBeacons can give retailers a new strategic weapon
So that's what intrigued me about Shelfbucks...it gives all of those retail players a really intelligent strategic weapon to use to reach consumers in an intelligent way."
The best e-commerce firms--one being Amazon--are growing faster than most brick and mortar retailers. They can deliver personalized service--they know who you are and what you've purchased before. Most of us are familiar with one trick they use:
E-commerce firms can measure and track everything going on behind the browser...you can understand customer behavior at a very detailed level. Stores, up to now, cannot measure and track everything going on inside the store, nor can they understand behavior at a detailed level.
Initial store forays into digitizing the shopping experience are pushing offers on smart phones. These often miss the mark by having no relevance to what the shopper wants or context of the reason they came to the store in the first place.
Example: a retailer pushes an offer to a man picking up a pound of Salmon after a long day of work. His wife called him while he was on the way home to pick up the Salmon…now he is quickly passing through the diaper aisle on his way to the fish department. His smart phone makes a noise and it’s a text message for a deal on diapers that was triggered by WiFi knowing his location. He doesn’t care, his kids are in college.
So you might be thinking, "Ok, but tell how me how iBeacons can deliver an offer in this scenario that is personalized and relevant to that trip to the store?"
Here you go: While the man was waiting for the butcher to wrap the salmon, he was impatiently tapping his foot. What if an iBeacon was hung on the shelf in the fish department? He bumps his phone against the iBeacon and is presented with deals on sauces for barbequing fish. He sees a deal on his wife’s favorite Teriyaki sauce, which, he now remembers was finished off at a dinner party two weeks ago. He saves the deal and will get some brownie points when he arrives at home with Teriyaki sauce in addition to Salmon.
What’s the difference in the two approaches? In the first, the retailer pushed an offer that had possibilities of working, but, by being broadcast, was likely to be irrelevant to most shoppers. The shopper left feeling a little annoyed…and the store didn’t build revenue. In the example with iBeacon on the shelf by the fish, the store got an increase in basket size, and the shopper got a deal on a item that was relevant to him. The offer came across as targeted and personalized and he left with a good taste in his mouth.
Now is the perfect time for retailers to fight back by focusing on the in-store experience with iBeacons. Carpe BLE'm.