Digital Shopping Experience – Coming Soon To A Store Near You: Part 3

As mentioned in my previous posts on the Dx3 Digital Shopping Experience (Part 1, Part 2), I attended the Dx3 Canada (#Dx32014) conference in Toronto on March 5-6. The Dx3 conference brought agencies, brands, publishers and retailers together for two days of networking and education on current innovations of digital marketing in retail.

This is the last in a three part series of posts that describe what shopping experiences you might see coming soon to a store near you. I have one more post coming out for retailers who want to create exciting shopping experiences for their customers, but this will be the last one describing the shopping experience itself.

Before I get into the  digital shopping experience content of this post, I couldn’t help myself from including a picture of an automated display that I passed by at the conference. The display was meant to simulate a human greeting and then give a product pitch. I’m not sure what to think of it, but it definitely caught my attention as I walked by. On the other hand, although it caught my attention, I admit it felt a bit creepy to me. I think I’d still prefer to be greeted by a real person at Walmart.Welcome Display

On to the main digital shopping experience blog post content …

Since this is the last post on the shopping experience, it seems fitting that I should talk about a session given by Aran Hamilton of Vantage Analytics. Unlike my last two blog posts, I’m not going to introduce you to a new shopping experience this time. Rather, I want to talk about Aran Hamilton’s presentation, because I felt he did a good job of describing the general set of characteristics that all modern shopping experiences should include …

His expectations for a digital shopping experience are …

1) Shopping experience needs to be integrated with shoppers’ mobile phones
2) Let shopper do real-time product scanning with their mobile phones to access product information and ratings as required
3) Customer self-service where possible
4) Access to expert customer support and curated recommendations when required
5) Shopping experience needs to be integrated with social media
6) Personalized targeted offers
7) Self-checkout option unified with Loyalty Program and Point of Sale checkout technology

As a modern shopper, I believe Aran Hamilton did a good job of summarizing what you should expect, and even demand, from the stores that you shop at. There are many reasons that stores won’t work hard to provide the best experience, don’t let the fact that you’re not asking for the best be one of those reasons!

Let me know what you think. If you’re a shopper would you like to your shopping experience to include these types of interactions? If you’re a retailer, what do you think of the risks and rewards to create an integrated shopping experience for your shoppers?

 

ThankYou.2

 

 

Digital Shopping Experience – Coming Soon To A Store Near You: Part 2

As I wrote in my previous post (Digital Shopping Experience: Part 1), I attended the Dx3 Canada (#Dx32014) conference in Toronto last week. The Dx3 Conference brought agencies, brands, publishers and retailers together for two days of networking and education on current innovations of digital marketing in retail.

This is the second in a series of posts on what I learned at the Dx3 Canada conference. There were many great new shopping innovations everywhere I went at the conference. In this post, I want to tell you about a demonstration store I found in the middle of the conference floor.

As you can see in the pictures, it was branded with LXR & Co, but it underneath the covers, it used technology powered by Thirdshelf, Exponents and Shopify. The demo store showed off the concept of a fully digital interactive fantasy store of the future. I was given a walk through of the experience, and boy oh boy, was it ever delightful!

The main experience design components found in the concept store were …
1) Personalized product discounts
2) Integrated Store and Mobile/Web experience
3) Interactive Display Advertising in-store
4) Social Media Sharing

Let me take you through the steps that were presented to me at the show to give you a good picture of the shopping experience I received …

1) Download app and register for LXR & Co profile
2) Physically browse around the store looking for interesting products
3) Watch display advertising for product sales pitch
Smart Displays 1 Smart Displays 2

4) Use in-store tablet to find product details
Tablet Product Information
5) Scan the tag and look-up product details on your own phone
Scannable TagsMobile Product Information

6) Receive personalized sales promotions
Personalized Discount Offers

I admit I’m unlikely to personally purchase a vintage Gucci handbag from LXR & Co, but if you’re in the market for Gucci, Chanel, Prada or other luxury names, you may be interested to know that they have boutiques in Beverly Hills, SOHO, as well as, having an online presence at LXR & Co. Rumor has it that they may also be considering opening a store in Toronto. Hopefully you’ll find the digital shopping experience I received, at the conference, in a store near you soon.

Let me know what you think of this experience. If you’re a shopper would you like this type of shopping experience? If you’re a retailer, what do you think of the risks and rewards to create an integrated shopping experience for your shoppers?

 

Digital Shopping Experience – Coming Soon To A Store Near You: Part 1

Hointer

 

I attended the Dx3 Canada (#Dx32014) conference in Toronto last week. The Dx3 conference brought agencies, brands, publishers and retailers together for two days of networking and education on current innovations of digital marketing in retail.

Wow! I saw great shopping innovations were everywhere I went at the conference. In the upcoming posts, I want like to share with you a sample of what you might find coming soon to a store near you. (Digital Shopping Experience Part 2)

In this post, I’ll talk about a concept store found in Seattle, called Hointer. The store concept is to move the focus away from the typical showroom theater to an interactive experience for trying on clothes (jeans as a first trial) in the fitting room.

Nadia Shouraboura, Hointer founder, gave a presentation at the conference describing how she hopes Hointer technology will remove many of the frustrations today’s shoppers have shopping for clothes. She explained that Hointer can remove the typical issues shoppers have when buying jeans, and let them focus on the experience of finding clothes they like and making it easy for them to purchase.

Shouraboura pointed out that removing a hovering salesperson from the experience may appeal to many men. As a personal preference, I can see how this idea is appealing to me. But if you’re a social shopper, don’t despair. Hointer’s experience also includes the ability for social sharing while you’re trying on your clothes. I’m pretty sure you’ll find the Hointer experience appealing for both genders!

The best way to communicate what I learned from Nadia Shouraboura is to let you see for yourself. Take a look at the following two videos.


You may not actually see a Hointer store opening at your local mall, because it intends to license it’s technology to other retailers rather than opening up a large chain itself. However, if Shouraboura is successful, you’ll find this experience in one of your regular clothing stores if they license the technology.

Let me know what you think. If you’re a shopper would you like this type of shopping experience? If you’re a retailer, what do you think of the risks and rewards to create an integrated shopping experience for your customers?

How To Shop: Online Research

Before you run to the mall and fight for space with other shoppers, why don’t you sit back, relax and go shopping first? The trend is clear. Informed shoppers look online before heading out to the store. Shopping today starts at home!

I’m not talking about going the whole way. Although it’s true, once you start shopping on the couch or in bed, you might just be enticed to buy at Amazon, Ebay or some other seductive e-commerce site. The key thing to remember is to start by gathering the information that is important and relevant to your purchase. You’re in control. You decide what information is important to help you achieve your shopping goals. Your goal could be anything. Maybe it’s finding the latest Fashion on Pinterest, finding the highest recommended Washer & Dryer on Consumer Reports, discovering a great deal that Walmart has this week or getting a hard to find toy for your nephew on Think Geek?

Of course, it is not worth the effort to do extensive online research for all your shopping needs, but it is easier more than ever to do a little online research today. Because it is easier, the effort/reward ratio means it makes more sense to spend a little time looking on the Web even for smaller items.  However, when the commitment level to a purchase  is higher, it definitely makes sense to take the time and effort to double check what you want to buy.

Let’s take a look at the advantages of doing a little online research to help you get the best value, price, quality, warranty, etc. for your next purchase. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Why exactly do you want to do online research? One obvious reason is when making major purchases, things like household appliances, cars and houses. The costs of making a bad buy with type of purchase are great. The costs of online research are low. Hmmmm, easy choice here. Now there are times when you might need to make an immediate purchase (e.g. replace a broken Washer or Dryer), but certainly the effort required to do a little online research has the potential for a great payoff.

How about when you’re planning a project? A “Do It Yourself” backyard project for the guys? Paint an old room for the ladies who want a change? Projects take a bit of planning. Online research is a great way to get ideas, understand what materials are needed and then wait for the best deals to come up week by week.

The list of what you can look for online is endless … warranties, features/specs, prices, financing, quality, product & store comparisons, reviews & recommendations, sales/deals, supporting services like installation, maintenance & shipping. Not all these factors may be important to you, but if they are you should be able to find them on the web today. 

So, what is the best way to do your online product research? That’s a tough one. I typically start with a Google search. Product manufacturer and retail websites are another great source of information. If you trust the community, you can also find many recommendation and review sites.  Post a comment about the project you’re working on. I’ll see if I can help you find the best resources and product research techniques to help. 


Not everyone is happy with consumers who do online product research. It can make a few retailers feel threatened and unhappy. They use the term “Showrooming” to describe how potential customers use physical stores to research what they want and then buy it online at a better price. Of course, potential customers might also do the reverse, i.e. look at competitors’ websites before going to a physical store to buy from someone they trust. I recommend to the retailers who complain about “showrooming” to get over it. Don’t be lazy. Find out what your customers want. Reach out to them in a way that makes shopping with you convenient. This requires innovation, risk and hard work. Sorry, but it’s true. Take a look at The Cluetrain Manifesto if you haven’t seen it yet. It was written way back in 1999, but it’s becoming even more applicable now. 

Shoppers, don’t be lazy either. You have work to do to if you want to encourage the marketplace to deliver better shopping experiences to you. Go out and learn how to improve your online product research skills. The effort will be worth it.

Tell me what you think. Do you do product research online at home or at a store? What techniques do you use that others might find useful? Which websites give you the best information and/or deals? Please write a comment and tell me.

Please look at Modshopper Online Shopping Research Resources for more help with your shopping research. 

 

How To Buy: Internet TV

Black Friday is here, and Christmas is right around the corner. This means we’ve entered the biggest shopping season of the year. Woo Hoo, let the games begin!

Of course if you are not waiting in long lines at the store or looking for a parking space at the mall, it’s probably a good idea to moderate the shopping by spending time with friends and family. No need to feel too guilty about shopping, because much of the shopping will be for gifts that help make our relationships stronger, or just take a friend with you on the next shopping trip. 

Today I want to go shopping for an Internet TV. This post is partly inspired by the start of the Christmas shopping season, but also because of feedback I received on my last two posts. Thank you for the comments. Please keep them coming.

I guess the best place to start is to consider what options you have when buying an Internet TV.  Here are a few things for you to think about …

Factors to Consider:

Content: TV, Movies, Netflix, YouTube, Home Videos, Music, Photos, etc.

Content Source: TV signal (Broadcast, Cable or Satellite), Internet Connection (WiFi or Ethernet), Home Photos/Video (Bluetooth or WiFi to Home PC Storage). etc.

Display: Screen Size, Pixel Density & Refresh Rate

Controllers: TV Remote Control, Keyboard/Mouse, Audio Control, Gesture Control

TV Applications: Web Browser, Netflix, YouTube, etc.

It’s sometimes easier to understand what you’re buying when you know a little bit about the technology used inside a product. One way to think about an Internet TV is to imagine a PC built inside the TV. It’s not quite the same, because you don’t have access to the PC’s Operation System (e.g. Windows) and desktop user interface. However, an Internet TV is different from a traditional TV because you do have an internet connection (WiFi or Ethernet) and access to content from the Internet (e.g. Netflix, YouTube, etc.) just like you do on a standalone PC.

I strongly recommend you visit a local electronics store and see how the Internet user interface works on the TV works before you make a purchase. Don’t make the mistake I made a few years ago when I bought an “Internet” TV on sale after Christmas, and I did not find out that the TV did not include a general web browser application until after I got it home. I think most new Internet TVs now have the web browser application. Also note: during the research on an earlier post, I read that Panasonic Viera TVs (past models?) did not include the Netflix app. Double check that the Internet TV you intend to buy supports the applications you expect before buying. This might save you from the dreaded “Buyers Remorse”. 

I took the following picture at a local Future Shop store (owned by Best Buy) to show you an example of applications found on an Internet TV. This is for a Samsung Internet TV in this case you were wondering.

The last last thing you may want to think about is whether you really need a PC tightly coupled inside your TV, at all. An alternative configuration is to simply connect your standard HDTV to a laptop PC using a HDMI cable (your laptop must have an HDMI interface for you to get the true value of the High Definition visuals). When you want Internet connectivity on your TV screen, plug in the the laptop with the HDMI cable. When you don’t need it, disconnect the cable and use your laptop as a regular laptop. Your controller will now be the laptop, of course. You won’t have the other controller options mentioned above, but this may or may not be important to you. 

If you want to add something to the topic or if you have any other questions, please write a comment. Otherwise …

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping Everyone!

More Resources

LG 
Panasonic (UK)
Samsung (Canada) 

Samsung (USA)
Sony

Sorry for sending you around the world to get more information on Internet TVs. I got these links from a quick Google search. You’d think that the international TV manufacturers would make it easier for us shoppers to understand what we’re buying at a generic level. Once we’re ready to buy, they could THEN send us down to country specific purchase points. Ugh.

 

Shopping Connections

Like many Canadians who travel to the USA, I visited an outlet mall on the way to New York City last month. We stopped at The Crossings Premium Outlets in Pennsylvania. As you can see from the picture, it was clean and well maintained. A pleasant place to shop. I bought new clothes that looked great and matched my budget. WooHoo! It was a good buy, and I was pleased with my purchase.

A few days before our trip, however, a terrible disaster occurred on the other side of the world. A building in Bangladesh collapsed killing more than 1,100 people. The building was full of factory workers who made clothes destined for shoppers in the US, Canada and Europe. You can find a report from the New York Times here if you haven’t heard about it yet, or for those of you with more courage you can see images of the destruction here [Caution: Images may be disturbing to some people]. Google Keyword Search = “Bangladesh building collapse”

At this point you may have already guessed how the Outlet Mall in Pennsylvania is connected to the tragedy in Bangladesh, but let me tell you how I made the connection for myself. When I returned home from the trip, I just happened to look at one of the labels on a shirt I bought at the mall. I noticed the shirt was made in Bangladesh. Hmmmm.

When used properly, the mind is a beautiful thing. It can make connections which may or may not be obvious at first.  My mind connected the pleasant shopping experience I had in Pennsylvania with the tragedy on the other side of the world. It might be hard to acknowledge and accept feelings of connectedness with people I’ve never met, but the shirt label provides clear evidence that I am participating in a global economy. That means I will likely buy shirts, and other products, that are made in far away places where worker and product safety standards are not the same as what I expect at home. The reality of the new global economy is that we’re all a lot more connected now than we were in the past.

Shopping can be, and should be, fun and entertaining, but let’s hope we don’t lose our sense of connection and compassion for the people who make and deliver great shopping experiences to us.

Please let me know how you feel about this. Am I too naive or do you agree?

Shopping On A Rainy Day In New York City

I was asked to be a chaperon on my son’s band trip to New York City a couple weeks ago. The trip was a lot of fun, but there was one rainy morning that I wanted to share with my ModShopper friends. We were supposed to tour Central Park, but that didn’t seem like much fun because of the rain. So, we went shopping at FAO Schwarz and the Apple Store on 5th Ave. to pass the time. Both these stores were an absolute delight to visit.

 

Rainy Day in NYC
Rainy Day in NYC

 

FAO Schwarz

What a fun place to shop! Every display I saw was inviting to the eye. The service was uniformly friendly and warm. Staff demonstrated toys in the aisles so shoppers could see what they were buying. Kids were allowed to play with the toys. FAO Schwarz truly lived up to it’s reputation as being a fun place to shop.

FAO Schwarz Pinterest

FAO Schwarz Stuffed Animals
FAO Schwarz Stuffed Animals
Fao Schwarz Piano
FAO Sweetz
FAO Sweetz

 

Apple

The Apple Store had a completely different feel to it, but the presentation was equally awesome to what I experienced at FAO Schwarz. From the street, you only see a large transparent glass cube with an Apple logo in the middle. When you enter, you walk down a circular staircase into a lower lair. I felt like I was walking into Luke Skywalker’s first home in Star Wars. The display tables were well laid out and staff was only a step away if you had a question. Well designed. Well executed in real life.

NYC Apple Store Pinterest

Apple Store NYC
Apple Store NYC
Apple Store Entrance
Apple Store Entrance
Apple Tablet Display
Apple Tablet Display

 

Both these companies have done a great job in presenting their wares to shoppers. They both deliver the highest quality shopping experience possible to their customers. This is the standard that shoppers want and that retailers should deliver!

Update: Behind the Store: Truck Safety

I’d like to give you an update on the last post I wrote about regarding Truck Safety .

I wrote my first post after being passed by a speeding Walmart truck last summer while driving on a highway with my son. My concern at the time was that a new truck anti-speeding law had recently been overturned in the courts. My post was not intended to get into the details about how to make a good law. My main point was that shoppers should care not just about the lowest price on a shelf, but also for how the lowest price product reaches the shelf safely for ourselves and our children.  I believe it’s importnat to have the strong consumer protection and road safety laws, but ultimately consumers have the power to judge corporate actions regarding our safety by carefully choosing what we buy and who we buy it from.

So, I’d like to report another event with a Walmart truck on the highway as I was driving home with my children from my parents over the recent holidays. The difference this time is that I am very happy with what happened. While I was driving the speed limit on the highway, I came across a Walmart truck that was going slightly below the speed limit. Awesome! I was so happy to find a Walmart truck that keeps it’s lights on AND drives within the speed limit FOR OUR SAFETY. That’s a consistent message I can believe. Well done Walmart.

I realize this is not a valid scientific study by any means, but I think it’s a good idea for every shopper to observe what’s happening around them and intelligently connect different consumer issues when possible.

The downside of my trip is that the Walmart truck was the exception to the rule. I was passed by many speeding trucks. It appears many many truck drivers don’t care about highway safety and are no longer required to use highway safety equipment in their trucks.

For those retailers who brand their trucks, I hope you remain committed to highway safety by having your trucks obey the speed limits, even though your drivers are not using speed-limiting safety equipment. Your customers care about highway safety and hope you do too. I think you’ll find customers will notice and reward you if you show an honest and transparent effort to be a good corporate citizen.

Behind the Store: Truck Safety

I was travelling to my parents’ cottage for a little visit this summer. While my mind was thinking about the fun we would have at the cottage, a big transport truck came racing up behind me. As the truck approached from behind, I quickly shifted my focus from fun at the cottage to the immediate problem of making sure the truck could pass safely. After passing me on a flat strech of highway, my mind shifted to the ModShopper shopping and retail website. I don’t think I would of connected the passing truck to “shopping” if the truck wasn’t a big advertisement for Walmart. What specifically struck me was the part on the truck that says “We drive with our lights on for safety”. I wonder if Walmart thinks a speeding truck with its lights on is a safer truck than a speeding truck without its lights on.

As the truck pulled away, I started to think beyond the safety of my son and myself. It moved to the bigger question about consumer safety. Not just of the products that you take home with you, but also about how products are made and what happens before they reach the store shelf. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that today’s shoppers have more on their minds than just low everday prices. Prices may be a key part of the equation, but surely shoppers want to spend their money from stores and product producers that have low prices AND are also good corporate citizens.

As for truck/highway safety and being a good corporate citizen, I recently read about a court ruling here in Ontario that said the government cannot force truck drivers to use speed regulators which stop the truck drivers from speeding. I also found another article applicable in the US were the National Retail Federation (NRF) is supporting less truck driver regulation … “NRF Joins Truck Driver Regulations Fight“.

The real question I have is not whether government regulations are good or bad. The real question to me is whether retailers care about their customers’s safety more than they care about getting paid at a cash register. If they do, governement regulations will take care of themselves.

I’ll let the Truck Safety experts debate the merits of specific truck regulations. I sure hope they do a good job, because I feel the the safety of millions of families traveling on our highways is as important as getting everyday low prices.

The Modern Shopper

So, just who or what is the Modern Shopper?

Let’s start with this …

The Modern Shopper uses the latest technology to take advantage of the best shopping experience available to them online and in real life. The Modern Shopper understands the dynamics of the Web will improve the experience of searching for and purchasing what they need, when they need it, and at the best price available. Competition by retail stores, product developers and service providers for the attention and money from the Modern Shopper is going to be intense. Much more intense than what is already a fiercely competitive consumer market today. The Modern Shopper is ready to reap the rewards of this new world. Status quo is not an option for those marketers, retail stores, product developers and service providers who want to serve the Modern Shopper. Status quo will only lead to catastrophic failure.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Okay, let’s agree that it sounds great from the Modern Shopper’s perspective. Does this world exist today? No. Actually, today’s shopping experience is far from perfect for the Modern Shopper. Time delays, high prices, lack of transparency, lack of convenience and difficulty finding what the Modern Shopper wants all contribute to a poor shopping experience.

What can be done? How can this poor experience be improved? Unfortunately, there are many barriers that must be overcome … confusing technology, confusing push oriented marketing strategies, weak cross-channel marketing approaches, resistance to the new market transparency, lack of trust due to poorly defined and confusing privacy policies/settings, and the list goes on.

Maybe the challenge for change is too great. Maybe the barriers are too large. Maybe the technology, process and people problems are too complex. I say NO WAY!!! Make no mistake, although the change may not happen in a single day, month, or year, it will happen. It has already started.

I want to be at the front of the attack on the status quo. I want to be part of the community that improves the shopping experience for the Modern Shopper. This is an exciting moment in time. I’m excited to be starting this journey. I hope you share the excitement. If we start with the end in mind, the future of the Modern Shopper promises to be a world worth fighting for.

Please add your thoughts and comments. The magnitude of the change required means it cannot be owned by a single person. It will take a whole community of Modern Shoppers to lead the way.