Technology has always played a major role in the evolution of the retail industry. From the introduction of the barcode to the installation of the first IBM 3660 supermarket system, technology has influenced the way retailers run their business.
Today, e-commerce and mobile commerce are driving the next major shift in retail. Broadband Internet is nearly a commodity, and mobile phones are ubiquitous among consumers. Retailers that can learn to harness this technology stand to gain a competitive advantage, especially when the economy recovers.
But with new tech start-ups emerging on the scene every day, it can be difficult to filter through the PR noise and find technologies relevant for your business. So to help you get started, we put together a list of 5 mobile technologies that you should be using right now. Many retailers are already using these technologies and reaping the benefits. If you have had success or failure using any of these applications, please share your experience in our comments section below.
Geolocation Apps (e.g. Foursquare, Gowalla) – Geolocation apps help retailers get increased exposure on social media and the web. Every “check in” gets pushed out to a user’s social network, which not only includes other Foursquare users, but Twitter followers and friends on Facebook. This exposure helps build brand awareness and ultimately generate more sales.
ShopAlerts – Developed by Placecast, ShopAlerts will deliver SMS text messages to consumers’ mobile phones when they enter inside the “geo-fence” or virtual boundary of a business. This has potential to be a sales-driving machine for retailers. Couple this technology with existing customer purchase information and ShopAlerts could be used to up-sell and cross-promote merchandise. For example, a sporting goods store could send you an alert to pick up an extra pair of socks for the running shoes you just purchased.
Group Buying (e.g. Groupon) – Group buying websites have been hugely successful. Groupon has already won the title of “fastest growing company ever.” Their success can be attributed to adoption by both consumers and retailers. Consumers love it for the deep discounts. Retailers love it for the increased foot traffic – and sales – they’re getting at their stores.