While the mobile phone serves as a lens to a personalized store experience, moving forward, wearable technologies like Google Glass will take in-store personalization to the next level, Steve Arthur, head of retail industry for Google, told attendees at the Retailer Roundtable event, sponsored by digital gifting platform provider CashStar. Arthur cautioned that retailers must realize they must deliver consumers the experience they need, rather than what they want, and be prepared for a post-PC world.
“Associates leave more technology in their locker than they bring on the store floor with them every day,” said Arthur. “The install base of mobile and tablet devices is now greater than that of desktops and laptops. The PC era is over. The mobile phone is an intrinsic part of us. If we’re awake, we’re online. Especially if we’re under 30.”
According to Arthur, customers want a mobile-enabled experience that is fast, simple, tailored and engaging. He gave the example of a mobile app from the Midwestern mass merchandise chain Meijer that rearranges a customer’s shopping list based on their location in the store and gives them one space to store and manage all retail and manufacturer coupons.
However, repeating a famous quote from Henry Ford that “If I had asked people what they had wanted, they would have said faster horses,” Arthur urged retailers to look beyond customer wants and serve their underlying needs. This includes curation of online and mobile product assortments, as although customers always say they want more products to choose from, nobody has time to sort through thousands of online options.
“What a customer really wants is for the retailer to surface the one right item when they walk in the store, before they ask,” said Arthur.
Another speaker at the event, Mark Bonchek, founder of digital strategy firm Orbit, discussed