The Brick-And-Mortar Renaissance

Since the 1970’s, retail stores have slowly undergone a digital evolution. POS systems replaced cash registers, credit cards became the payment norm, and security tags reminded shoppers to pay. Despite these changes, the fundamentals of the customer shopping experience remained unchanged: We still pick up products, ponder a decision, and either leave empty-handed or wait in line to pay.

However, in the digitally connected store of 2012, big changes are underway. Fixed checkout aisles and cash registers are being replaced by smartphone-wielding store associates who now take the checkout to the customer. Furthermore, the smartphone generation performs self-assisted checkouts directly from their phones while sleek new in-store touch-screens allow them to experience products without opening the box or removing the coat hanger.

Welcome to the brick-and-mortar renaissance.

In my new report, The Digitization of the In-Store Experience, I take a detailed look at the digital transformation underway at retailers across the US and Europe, including:

  • The technologies being adopted. Retailers such as Lowe’s, Gap, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Sears are rolling out smartphones and tablets to their store associates and investing in next-generation interactive displays and kiosks. Certain solutions are starting to prevail across retailers.
     
  • The empowerment of the sales associate. Armed with smartphones and tablets, empowered sales associates are helping customers on the shop floor as well as busting checkout queues with mobile POS.
     
  • The business case behind the investment. Retailers are investing in the vision of “Buy Anywhere, Fulfill Anywhere.” The new digitally connected store allows them to offer up an endless assortment of products far beyond the capacity of the store shelves. The customer may still leave without a bag, but now they are increasingly likely to have a receipt.
     
  • The changing role of the eBusiness leader. Having successfully led the mobile commerce charge, the eBusiness team is playing an increasingly strategic and tactical role in the transformation of the in-store experience, not least because their eCommerce platform is playing a critical role in exposing rich product data into the store.

I encourage Forrester clients to read the report and join me on March 7th as I explore the brick-and-mortar renaissance further in a 1hour webinar.  As you stumble upon these technologies on your next shopping trip, please share with me your thoughts and experiences. 

Comments

integration with POS is a business challenge

I like to share my experience with challenges of POS integration with Mobile Commerce solutions. Back in 2009, we started building a Mobile Commerce platform with a simple goal of: "One App, All phones, All retailers, all banks and credit cards". The good news is that we have been able to build the platform from technology stand point. It supports almost all smart phones. It is feature rich, secure and robust. Our challenge has been integrating with the POS. This is not a technology challenge, but business. Let me explain. In order for user to benefit from all offerings in a retail store, where they are shopping, we need to send some information from the POS (what user is buying) to our servers in the cloud, all secure and accepted by our mobile user. However, businesses are very reluctant to open their POS to outside. If they did, this would add tremendous value and flexibility to mobile users and in return it would increase the sales for retailers, and savings for customers.

Interesting Blog

That’s an interesting insight and it's something that I have personlly experienced in an Urban Outfitters Store.It is certainly something I would hope to see a lot more of as I feel that this is a subject area long avoided by some retailers. Enterprise Mobility has helped numerous industries and I feel that Retailers have really not been utilising it to its full potential.

I have actually written my own blog on the subject after visiting an Urban Outfitters store in Miami.

Feel free to check it out here:

http://blog.commontime.com/urban-outfitters-iphone-pos-devices/

In-Store 3D analitycs for the shelf using Kinect.

During this last December, we presented to the world an innovative technology based on Microsoft's Kinect: Shopperception, a Mac application that creates real world 3D analytics for the shelf. We've been covered by Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch and Springwise among others.

We feel that we have a great opportunity to change the rules of the analytic space in the retail industry.

Find bellow the link to the Demo video showing how to generate 3D analytics in 5 simple steps.

http://vimeo.com/36493179

Anyone with a Intel based Mac and a Kinect can have hands-on contact with this innovative technology. To Download, visit www.shopperception.com

European Mobile POS

We have developed and implemented a mobile ePOS with stock control based on a platform that support Chip & Pin payments. Chip & Pin ready solutions for receipt of customer payments is a challenge that makes the delivery of mobile POS more difficult when compared to MSR swipe-only card processing as is currently the norm in the US. Please see the following case stody where we work with pop-up event retailers to support stock control, credit card processing and CRM/Loyalty as part of a Windows Mobile solution: http://youtu.be/LAhdmPVWyww

The majority of the innovation in retail solutions emmanate from the US but I beleive that Europe leads the way in payments technology. When Chip & Pin technology becomes a requirements for merchants in the US instore and pop-up mobile retail solution providers will have to coem to grips with a move away from the "Square" swipe-only mentality to the rather more secure but difficult to support Chip & Pin. Perhaps NFC will make the transition to more secure payments easier, we shall see.