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Browsing in aisle takes on new meaning

January 11, 2011

In December, 2010, I was shopping in a store with my dad. I wanted to show him Shop Savvy, a new app that compares prices for you on the spot.

We scanned in the bar code of some razor blades. My phone quickly found the razors at Amazon.com for $6 less (with free shipping). So we ordered two boxes and continued on our way. From the aisle.

Welcome to the new reality of having boatloads of data at our fingertips.

This brave new world of data will need tools like Shop Savvy. They take a lot of data (a web search) and place it into context for me and you.

We see this on a micro level as well. My wife is in the market for a fridge. She posted on Facebook that she was in the market, soliciting ideas of where to go. People responded with their favorite stores, and my wife made her decision.

The two things are separate, but connected. Both work because the raw knowledge is there. In the case of Shop Savvy and other mobile apps, the data is online and perhaps a little disconnected. But through tips on FourSquare and messages on other location-based social networks, checkins can begin to feel personal.

So are people using mobile phones in the aisle? According to a report from e-marketer, “Half of mobile internet users access social networks from their mobile devices.”

e-marketer reportPeople are using their mobile phones to access social networks – nothing earth-shattering about that news. They can “checkin” using FourSquare, Gowalla, and/or Facebook. Or, like my wife, they can ping people on their own networks to get the skinny on things in aisle.

How can a check-in help keep people at the aisle?

That’s going to be the big question in 2011. Here’s another graphic from the e-marketer report:

e-marketer report on checking inSo, the idea is to offer something (here’s a coupon), but also offer a compelling reason to buy in aisle.

The aisle is considered the moment of truth. It’s a time where people actively pick the products they want. They pick the brands that percolate up to the top of their heads. They pick the brands they trust. At other times, they also pick the brand that offers them a chance to save money.

So why might users check in while in the aisle? It might be because they get information that helps them make a purchase decision. For example, recipes when they check in at a dairy aisle. Why? Because according to the chart below, people want information. They want to know what they can do with the product.

People want information when they are at the aisleSo what’s the answer?

The first step is to understand that more and more people will be armed with data. Brands will not really be able to infiltrate some of this data stream — my wife’s Facebook question is an example. With her privacy settings, only her friends can see the question.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get into the stream in aisle. Buying time on Shop Savvy might be one solution. Another is offering a compelling reason, at aisle, to get more data. Maybe it’s a QR code. Maybe it’s a check-in. But it should offer more information about why to buy.

You turn. What do you think of offering information in aisle? Any examples you can think of where you were delivered information that helped you make a purchase decision?

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