Get out your smartphone or iPad and set that alarm…it’s time for the Black Friday edition of this blog! This year Black Friday is all about smartphones and other technology. Not just online sales through these or even shopping apps, this year it’s about getting customers to engage with smartphones and other technology to enhance and streamline the purchase process. Here are a few that you might see this year (if you’re a shopper) or think about for next year (if you’re a retailer).
Mobile checkout: No more cash registers? That’s right. Some stores are phasing out cash registers in favor of customers making mobile purchases from anywhere in the store. According to Hadley Malcolm, Finish Line will deploy this tactic in time for the holidays while stores like JC Penney and Nordstrom phase out cash registers in favor of the same http://usat.ly/Y5jOCD. How does this work? Well it’s already a reality for one store. C. Wonder is a women’s apparel and accessories shop. All stores have a concierge desk in the center, which include cash drawers, but the majority of checkouts happen at smaller mobile checkout units around the store. In fact all employees carry around mobile checkout devices. Depending on store size, 15 to 30 mobile checkout units can be in effect. The smaller mobile checkout units have gift wrap, bags and receipt printers. This kind of technology is sure to be met with more buyers. If there’s anything Americans value it’s convenience, and this will allow more shoppers to be met at their point of purchase decision than ever before.
QR Codes: According to Mark Walsh, Target has 20 top toys located in the main aisles of its stores that have QR codes on them http://bit.ly/Tdu59X. In order to purchase these toys, all the customer has to do is scan the toy’s QR code and it will be shipped free within the U.S. Free shipping and no lines? Yes. I hear more sales. Do you? This could also be a rebranding and reintroduction of sorts for QR codes, which have been slow to take off under their current uses. If customers learn to scan a QR code to purchase an item, they will be more willing to scan one in the future. QR codes could come to have a whole new meaning. Whether that happens or not, what better way to build awareness and more use value into QR codes? It might be just what they need.
Tablet Trends: This appeals to the customer’s need for increased interaction and focuses on the psychology of it all. Selling the experience that ultimately results in a purchase. At Aéropostale, iPads in dressing rooms let customers choose their music. At stations throughout the rest of the store customers can use them as ‘look books’. They can look at style guides, build outfits to email to themselves or friends or just surf the store’s website. Throughout Guess and PacSun they are not just ‘look books’, but sources of additional items and an alternative way to purchase items. Tablets might be the way to win online shoppers back to the brick and mortar stores.
Social Shopping: Facebook is anxious to prove that social shopping works. Samantha Murphy notes it has added more retail partnerships, with babyGap, Fab, Brookstone, Lindt and ProFlowers http://on.mash.to/UUmi0r. Subscriptions to Hulu Plus, Pandora and Rdio can also be sent. Just in time for Black Friday, Facebook is rolling out a way to measure this impact more effectively. Its new tool will allow businesses to track purchases by those who’ve viewed their ads http://reut.rs/Qwlcwl. Marketers will also be able to aim their ads at segments that share attributes with those who have bought similar items in the past. Perhaps a win is possible for social. On the other hand, it could also result in Social Sunday. Then we’d have Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday, Social Sunday and Cyber Monday. As McDonalds used to say, it could happen.
Hopefully now you’re ready for Black Fridays of Christmas present and future. Stay tuned in the following weeks for more holiday-themed posts. This is only the beginning.