Ben Palmer: The POP Is Everywhere

Ben Palmer: The POP Is Everywhere

Retailer-specific apps allow consumers to pursue a path to purchase anywhere their mobile devices go.

Ben Palmer
  • 17 november 2013

Consider the customer with a reusable shopping tote in one hand and a mobile device in the other.

The habits of the commercially ambidextrous have so far seemed to pose nothing but threats to the brick-and-mortar retail model. Retailers are freaking out about ‘showrooming,’ but it’s turned out to be a really great user experience — see how much fun people are having shopping with all the new tools at their disposal. For a shopper, it’s the best of both worlds to be able to go into a store and look at physical products and then maybe find a cheaper price online (or just have it sent home for convenience). How else can we empower these early adopting pioneers of ‘anywhere commerce’?

After all, look at Chipotle. They have a really cool app that lets you preorder a burrito for pickup, clearly recognizing that part of the bummer of having a physical retail environment is that lines happen. They’re the analog equivalent to the ‘beach ball of death,’ and just as infuriating. Chipotle could have added employees and registers, but instead, they let people construct their burrito on their phone, essentially taking the getting-there time and waiting-in-line time and combining them — all without sacrificing control over the end burrito. Users frequently use the app while in a long line. It’s a pretty perfect app-cum-retail experience that can be replicated in other types of stores.

(Before I move on to more examples, I should anticipate that some people are grinches about all of this. How, they ask, can we continue to enable such a massive sense of entitlement? The demands that some of these tech applications answer can’t be spoken without sounding whiny, it’s true. But here’s the thing: giving a customer a product in exchange for money is an even exchange. But giving a customer what they want, how they want to get it, without charging extra for the cool? Now you’ve got customers loyally indebted to you. This isn’t enabling; it’s leveraging.)

warby parker home try on

Take RentTheRunway. One truth about fashion is that for big, formal occasions, it’s maybe gauche to be seen in the same outfit twice. Or you need a really fancy outfit and you don’t think you’ll need it again. The answer, until recently, has been to buy expensive dresses or borrow from a rich friend. RentTheRunway democratizes the borrowing thing, allowing anyone to rent a dress (with a free back-up in a size larger or smaller for safety) for a few nights at a fraction of the cost of buying. They’ve even got “go-to” girls to consult for fashion advice. RentTheRunway would already have received a DMCA takedown order, if dresses were music. Warby Parker’s try-at-home model for glasses is as innovative and disruptive, and their online success has led to opening a quite successful retail store.

Now these are just a couple examples happening now that aren’t even that techy. They’re business-smart. Imagine the ways we could go combining business insights and emerging tech.

It’s easy to limit ourselves by the size of the screens we’re working with, but whether it’s a phone, a tablet, or a phablet, your canvas is everywhere. In Korea, Tesco put giant gigapixel posters of their shelf space in subway ads, made each item scannable for purchase by mobile device, and watched their sales skyrocket without having to add any locations. Over 10,000 commuters scanned these life-size grocery items, getting their shopping done as they waited for the train.

buy anywhere retail

We used to talk about how mobile advertising could draw consumers into brick-and-mortar retail space. Now the stores are the ads, and the whole world is the retail space. It’s a deep opportunity and we’ve only just begun to plumb it. If a friend recommends a book or movie, Amazon’s mobile app makes it just as easy to buy it now as it does to write yourself a note.

Could we leverage Beacon in ad space to suggest nearby running trails to passers-by who’ve recently bought a pair of Nikes? Or install store-mode WLANs that take bar tabs past a certain number of drinks and push a branded taxi voucher to patrons paying on Google Wallet? Why not scan a shopper’s Amazon Universal Wish List to feed floor associates suggestive sales? “Sir, I see you’d like a bespoke suit. When you get it, you’ll need a belt. Here are four in your size. You should already have a coupon in your inbox.”

The point of purchase is everywhere. Which means we’ve reached a singularity in retail where all the calls-to-action of the past (remember “pick up the phone…”?) have coalesced into one: buy now.

Photos by Quiet Like Horses, youwanttotalkjive and Steam Feed


Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology december 2, 2016

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children december 2, 2016

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Retail 2017

See All
Travel december 2, 2016

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Related Expert

Jay Sidhu

Mobile Banking

Food december 2, 2016

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture december 2, 2016

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport december 2, 2016

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed november 22, 2016

Digital Strategist: Why “Big Sensing” Is Key To Retail’s Future

Bud Caddell, Founder of NOBL, shares why the most capable and useful asset in any retail environment is the workforce

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated december 2, 2016

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Retail december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

Fashion december 2, 2016

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work december 2, 2016

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing december 2, 2016

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Arts & Culture december 2, 2016

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment

Automotive december 2, 2016

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

No search results found.