SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

Retailers looking at mobile technology

Posted by Admin on January 12, 2009

Today’s Times newspaper paints an interesting picture of a future world in which retailers are utilising more and more mobile technology to entice us into their stores … and spend more while we are there.

“As you walk along the high street, your mobile phone rings. You look to see who is calling and it is the shop you are standing next to, urging you in to check out their half-price deals.”

The article also quotes, Jace Tyrrell, operations manager for the New West End Company, a trade body that represents 600 shops in Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street:

“We need to look at new ways of enticing in shoppers. The London market, in particular, is younger and more tech-savvy. I think mobile phone technology is going to play a big role in the future of retail … The technology is already in your pocket. We just have to bring it into the retail sphere.”

While the sentiment is right, this particular vision on the future is wrong. Although many people will try to argue the point for location based technology like this, it’s not there yet; but perhaps more importantly people won’t want to know there’s an offer in the shop they’ve just walked past – just because they walked past it.

People might be interested to know in offers from their favourite brands – and would be willing to receive and redeem those offers with their phone. But they wouldn’t want to be ‘hassled’ by random shops as they walk past – there’s a privacy issue here (“How has this shop got my mobile number?”) and an annoyance factor (do I get sent a message by every shop as I walk along Oxford Street? If so, I’d be willing to throw my phone through a shop window before I made it to the end of the street).

This could work, but with a lot more thinking first.

This is another example of technology that is possible, but ignores the requirement of the regular mobile user, who I can fairly safely predict won’t be rushing to sign up to these alerts.

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