What’s Next: Retail 5 Years into the Future

“My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare, I had to cram so many things, to store everything in there.”

The lyrics in David Bowie’s song “Five Years” capture what life is like for many consumers in the fading light of the year 2013. This is the age of overload and overindulgence. We don’t watch TV any more, we binge view. We no longer communicate; we drown in email and social media inputs. We don’t make simple purchase decisions; instead we battle choice paralysis at the supermarket shelf. Too much stimulation. Too much information. Too much stuff. It’s totally exhausting and the next five years will be about stripping away and simplifying for consumers. And retail will need to play its role in helping to make our complex lives easier.

By 2018 I believe that we will be well in to the “Responsive Retail” era. Being responsive is all about, as the dictionary defines it, “reacting quickly and positively”. Technology will be far less intrusive and more invisible than it is today, retailers will instantly and automatically adapt to individual customers’ needs, and retail generally will be far more intuitive than it is now.
The days of shoppers delightedly comparing prices across the globe on their computers and smartphones will be gone. Customers will expect that pricing changes dynamically and, allowing for exchange rates at a given time, will be consistent market by market the world over. Individualized pricing will be typical – personalized offers, rather than mass percentage-off sales.

QR codes will be a thing of the past. If you want more information about a product, the item will talk to your mobile device and give you precisely what you need. Burberry is ahead of the game already in this regard, with their system of RFID tagging, where the chip in a garment triggers content and changes the mirror in-store into a digital display.

We will need to do much more of the thinking and the work for customers. You can already see the beginnings of that trend now. I often quote the example of Sainsbury’s Brand Match. The UK supermarket offers a service whereby every time you spend 20 pounds or more in store, the POS system and the checkout automatically compares the prices of the brands in your trolley versus other leading supermarkets and, if you could have paid less at the competitors, you receive a coupon for the difference.

Another case in point is the work that WPP* and Intel are doing on developing “intelligent shelves” (in trial in Singapore right now). In the next few years, the store shelf will “read” who we are; our likes, dislikes, wants and needs, and alter the information presented to suit.
It’s all getting closer to what Cisco Systems calls true “Customer Intimacy” in a data-driven, completely connected world.

The complementary movement to responsiveness over the next five years will be “Responsible Retail”. Again to quote the dictionary meaning, this is about being “morally accountable for one’s behaviour”. Consumers are becoming ever more aware of the results of their actions – a product bought today becomes landfill tomorrow, and an improperly sourced item can have societal ramifications (e.g. encourage sweatshops). Shoppers will want retailers who think through the cradle to grave cycle of products, who ensure fair and ethical manufacture in the first place, and who “give back” as much as take from society.

The trend is already evident in retailers such as US adventure-wear company Patagonia, which famously ran a full-page, anti-consumption press advertisement in the New York Times, headlined “Don’t buy this jacket”, and recently introduced “Worn Wear” (second-hand Patagonia clothing with a story behind each piece). In answer to one of America’s biggest shopping weekends of the year, Patagonia produced a short film called “Worn Wear”, which was billed as “an antidote to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy, Worn Wear is an invitation to celebrate the stuff you already own.”

Retailers like Toms in the United States are institutionalizing a responsible retail approach. Toms started life as an online shoewear company, with a manifesto (now trademarked) called “One For One”. For every pair of shoes purchased, Toms donate a pair to a needy child in a third world country.
In 2018, retailers who don’t behave responsibly will be the exception rather than the norm.

Amazon provides clues on where retail will be in five years’ time. They are already both “responsive” and “responsible”. In terms of the former, Amazon tracks and reads a shopper’s profile, anticipates needs and makes relevant product suggestions. Their “1-Click Ordering” makes purchasing easier too – once your details are in the system, you are just one click away from check-out. And when it comes to acting responsibly, Amazon recently introduced “Amazon Smile”, which allows shoppers to automatically donate 0.5% of every purchase to the charity of their choice.

Responsive and Responsible Retail. A kindler, gentler, more intimate and intuitive future? Well, yes. But both trends will also take pressure off shoppers and remove guilt. And relaxed customers are more likely to open their wallets.

(Credit: New Retail Blog)

DESIRE Micro Mobile Marketing Platform & App unveiled at CES Global Event.

The hotly contested arena of micro marketing technology and its attendant fields of next generation consumer apps, brand platforms and in-store transmitter beacons is today turned on its head by a groundbreaking innovation unveiled for the first time at the global CES new technologies showcase event in Las Vegas.

With the launch of their multi-purpose Desire platform and API, British marketing and technology wizards, Mark Aubin and Craig Smart, have created a micro marketing tool which not only leaves similar Silicon Valley rivals trailing in their wake but sets advanced new benchmark standards and capabilities to significantly advance the global consumer shopping experience.

Whilst Desire still relies on Bluetooth smart Beacons to deliver proximity marketing alerts and messages to consumers, it is how it significantly puts the customer at the forefront of the electronic shopping experience- and in a one stop, decision making role about what brands and products that they want to hear about on their apps- which gives it a crucial groundbreaking competitive edge over all other rivals in the field.

Says Mark Aubin, founder and CEO of Just Desire Ltd, which has conceived, created, engineered and is now developing Desire in collaboration with several major global retail chains:

“Everybody else has built their micro marketing strategies around push technologies directed by the brand or retailer and then aimed at the consumer. We’ve deliberately turned that thinking on its head and made our platform and app totally customer-centric”

“They decide what brand messages and store marketing alerts they want. That way they are kept happy and shopping rather than being turned off by a bombardment of messages to their mobile phones every time they walk around a store.”

Adds Aubin, a global marketing expert who has specialised in driving corporate growth via highly customer focused strategies for major brands such as Cadbury-Schweppes, Samsung, Panasonic, Nokia and T mobile:

“Our point of different over the other micro marketing technologies is of crucial importance in winning the hearts and minds of shoppers in what is going to be the next big arena of retail competition. For brands and retail chains it is all about capturing the minds of consumers and winning their loyalty. That isn’t achieved by pushing a deluge of messages at them but about giving them specifically what they want, when they want it and in a non irritating way. Desire, as its name implies, delivers all that.”

“Consumers have to register only once with Desire which brands and stores they want to receive information about- they we do the rest in delivering that data to them at the appropriate and relevant times on their different shopping trips. Our app can store, literally, thousands of requested alert notifications and behaves as if it is the digital mind of the shopper.”

All other systems rely on consumers having to repeatedly load scores of individual shopping apps for each and every brand they want to be alerted about- and then these consumers being indiscriminately deluged with messages whenever they make a shopping trip.

That being said, retail experts believe that the arrival of the micro marketing revolution, whereby shoppers’ mobile phones are pinged with sales messages, brand videos, marketing campaigns and price deal offers whenever they are near participating stores where special transmitter beacons have been places, will positively make a step change in blurring the vexed lines of demarcation between online and off line shopping.

Desire, which has offices and development laboratories in Cambridge, England and Chicago has recognised this and how crucially important it is to deliver benefits for both shoppers and retails and brands alike.

To this end, as well as the marketing leading advantages it delivers for customers, Desire provides for brands their retailers an array of highly detailed marketplace analytics which will take dissection of consumer habits and behaviour to new levels of detail and focus.

“With Desire, brands and retailers get the best possible insight into the minds and behavioural shopping habits of consumers. We are very confident that it will get a very significant sales pick up from major multinationals, the global advertising and marketing industry and retail chains and super marketing groups,” predicts Mark Aubin.

Already Desire has linked up with a number of major UK and European retail chains as well as Vibe Audio, the global audio equipment specialists, to develop their unique sales and marketing tool, trailing it in High Street shops and with consumer focus groups.

Stores and their leading brands are able to upload all the elements of their current marketing and advertising campaigns- from videos, TV ads and special price offers to personalised customer messages and loyalty programme offers- to the Desire platform which correlates them to mobile phone app users.

Shoppers then receive alerts and marketing information when within 100 metres of a retail stockist or 30 metres of particular products in which they have registered an interest- it can be anything from cars and shoes to hair gels and clothes- via specifically located in store transmitter beacons.

The great advantage of the Desire platform and app is that it has been engineered and developed to work across all mobile phone systems- IOS, Android and soon Windows- making it the only fully versatile proximity marketing tool on the market.

With such an array of market leading advantages over all its rivals, Mark Aubin sees Desire being of huge global appeal to secondary users as well as major retailers and brands. The advertising and marketing industries will want it to supply to their clients whilst major supermarket groups, with product ranges running into thousands of items, would gain massively if they could stream specific product messages and price deals on an individual basis to each and every one of their millions of customers.

“The potential for Desire is simply immense and we believe that we are at the very leading edge of the next generation technology which is driving the revolution now taking place in micro marketing to consumers”.

“It is a fast paced arena in which to compete but we are confident that with the many additional developments we’ve still got up our technological sleeves, that we have a very big future ahead of us”.

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