Future of Retail: World As Retail Experience

Mobile payment systems and product identification technologies are enabling users to interact with and purchase virtually any product they come across in the world, regardless of whether or not it is found in a traditional retail environment.

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This post is part of a PSFK Consulting project aimed at providing insight into the Future of Retail. World As Retail Experience is one trend of ten that appears in our exploration of how technology and our senses play a role in the retail experience, both in and out of the store, from the perspective of brands, shoppers, retailers and communities.


Summary
Mobile payment systems and product identification technologies are enabling users to interact with and purchase virtually any product they come across in the world, regardless of whether or not it is found in a traditional retail environment. The ability of an individual to buy almost anything they see, shortens the path to purchase by transforming any encounter into an opportunity to make a sale.

Implications

  • Now that the potential for a sale exists anywhere, retailers and brands will need to be smarter about crafting products and services that can serve as standalone experiences
  • As more shoppers can access background information on their mobile devices.  Brands will have to take the lead in how they tell the story about their product  and service
  • Retailers will need to find ways to lower the barriers to completing transactions, ensuring the process is easy and secure
  • Retailers can augment their in-store experience by allowing shoppers to access tailored content on their mobile devices such as product information and limited-time promotions when visiting physical locations

Supporting Examples for World As Retail Experience

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Immediate Product Research, Sampling and Buying
Mobile applications like Stripey Lines, ShopSavvy and Amazon use barcode-scanning or image recognition to enable users to quickly access information to research products, check pricing and availability and make purchases. Through these applications users are able to do things like scan the barcode of a music album, access it through iTunes and listen to a sample instantly.

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App Transforms iPhone and iPad Into Credit Card Machine
Square is a new mobile payment system for the iPhone and iPad that enables people to check out from anywhere. A small, plastic card reader fits into the headphone jack, transferring the credit card’s swipe data to the app or details can be entered manually without the need to swipe. After an employee enters the amount to charge, the customer confirms by simply entering their signature with their finger and then the receipt is sent to the customer’s email address.

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Store-Free Shopping Via Text
Subports is a retail shopping platform through which customers use text messages to purchase items. Merchants tag their products and distribute a designated short code, such that users who have their payment information tied to a Subports account can text the code in to instantly purchase merchandise.

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Entire World As Display
Innovation group Frog Design has envisioned a concept scenario called ThingBook, in which a future where every object is connected to the internet plays a critical role in how we might eventually shop for products. With every visible thing connected as a data point, users will be able to instantly research information about items such as clothes they see others wearing in the streets using image recognition systems on their mobile devices and pay for them through mobile systems. This access will enable people to shop and buy from anywhere.

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In-app Purchasing For Augmented Reality Content
Augmented reality technology enables digital information to appear on top of the physical world when viewed through the camera of a mobile device, creating a hybrid browsing experience anywhere. Layar is one such mobile app that recently added the ability to purchase exclusive information and content directly within the app. Content partners can now provide special paid content and information-rich layers that help users better navigate new locations, potentially opening the door for a future where users can preview and buy any product they see.

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Mobile Coupons Offer Opportunity For Retailers to Reward Shoppers
Deal sites such as Coupon Sherpa and Cellfire already enable consumers to search for discounts from brands and access them on their mobile phones to be presented at checkout. In addition, as location-based social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla become more prominent, retailers will have the ability to target shoppers with promotions as they check in to store locations, providing limited time incentives to make purchases during their visits.

Request your free copy Of The Future Of Retail Report here.

In just over 80 pages, PSFK Consulting provide an analysis of the Future of Retail. This free report explores a future from the perspective of brands, shoppers, retailers and communities – highlighting how technology and our senses play a role in the retail experience both in and out of the store. It features interviews with senior executives from Ace HotelPolyvoreStarbucks andTarget. The trends identified within this document and the examples used to bring them to life are inspired by innovation from around the globe.

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