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Another week, another retail revolution

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Last issue I waxed lyrical about PowaTags and the ‘retail revolution’ this QR code scanning marketing-to-retail play was, in PowaTag’s mind at least, going to instigate. Fourteen short days later and we are now in the midst of another retail revolution: location. Since I traipsed round Gay Paris scanning QR codes on rapidly revolving advertising hoardings, a raft of launches and announcements have been made around beacons and Bluetooth that are ‘going to reinvent retail’.

As our stories this week reveal, The Crown Estates are planning to beacon-up (Beacon-ise? Beacon-ate? We really need a word for this) all the shops on Regent’s Street in central London as part of its revamp plans. Clearly, not only a forward thinking arm of the backward institution of monarchy, but one that still has huge powers of persuasion: they have even got the Apple Store to do it.

And Motorola, a once formidable giant in mobile comms and a quiet giant in retail equipment, has jumped into the fray to offer a platform to retails that combines Bluetooth and Wifi to offer a wide variety of ways to communicate with shoppers, from the general “welcome to the store” right through to, it claims, being able to interact individual shoppers as they stand, bewildered, before the vast array of wine in Tesco.

Even Urban Airship research which set out to see if consumers were reluctant to share their location data found that, actually if they get something out of it, then they are largely perfectly happy to share.

So is location the ‘new’ retail revolution? Well, of course not: it is just part of the raft of mobile-led technologies that have long promised to shake up the arcane world of in-store shopping coming to fruition.

And scratch the surface and what you find is that these are just largely extensions of mobile marketing techniques brought into stores. They are basically simply ways to ping coupons at shoppers – albeit right down to the actual item they are standing in front of.

But this, I feel, misses a trick. The real power of this technology is to engage consumers, build and exploit loyalty and finally do away with leaving a shop empty handed. It may even also finally rid us of queuing up to pay – I mean queuing is so very 1980s.

What all this beacon-y tech actually gives is the chance to know who is in your store, encourage them to engage with the retailer and then to be ‘helped’ to buy stuff whether they need it or not: marketing in other words.

The spin-off for the customer is that they get better service, shopping in the real world is as easy as it is online (a boon for useless men like me) and they get what they think are deals thanks to coupons etc…

The real winner though is the retailer. They get all that customer data – where they go, what they look at, what they do and, perhaps more importantly, don’t buy and so on. The retailer also gets the added bonus that, if it see sense, it can arm its staff with devices that also use this tech to actually be helpful and, eventually, become roving points of sale.

This is the real retail revolution and we are only just peaking the tip of the iceberg of change. While many poo-poo QR codes, Bluetooth, text and even apps as too simple and old school, these are the tools that will engage consumers – and they will do so cost effectively for the retail and yield umpteen rewards.

It is time for a change in retail and all these little revolutions are slowly adding up to make that happen. Perhaps 2014 is really the year mobile retailing took off. I wonder what revolution will occur in the next 14 days?

Hear Motorola outline its view of the future of retail and where MPact fits in in our exclusive interview


Our Webinars

Want to get a better understand of customer engagement through mobile as part of the ongoing retail revolution? Well, sign up for our Webinar with LogMeIn taking place at 2pm on 17 June ‘5 Strategies for Building Effective Mobile Engagement ‘ here at Internet retailing

Our Awards

And why not help is celebrate how far we have already come by coming along to the Internet Retailing Awards 2014 on 26 June? Last year the winners of these multichannel and ecommerce industry awards included Tesco, Burberry, Asos, Lakeland, eBay, Amazon, Oasis/Warehouse and LoveHoney, who celebrated their wins at a rooftop party in the middle of the City. Who will take this year’s titles? The full shortlist can now be viewed online with the winners revealed at an exclusive event at One Mayfair on Thursday June 26. All shortlisted retailers are also eligible for the Internet Retailing Award sponsored by Venda and chose by you.

Choose your winner for the Internet Retailing Award by voting here.

Click here for more information or to buy a ticket to the event.

Catch-up on IRX 2014

If you missed an Internet Retailing Expo 2014 presentation that you’d like to catch up on, you can do so now through the post-event website. Visitors to can access all the presentations that we’ve been given permission to share with our audiences.

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