5 Ways to Improve New Shopper Technologies

Jack Blog

April 27th, 2011 By Jack Morton

Walmart generated quite a bit of press last week when it bought Kosmix to up its game in social and mobile commerce—joining (and jumping way ahead of) a host of other big retailers who’ve leapt into new shopper technologies in a big way.

Here are 5 things I think retail brands can do to improve how customers experience these technologies:

1. Start with the user experience.
Don’t get so excited about new technologies that you use them in ways that defy the user’s actual experience. As noted in Ad Age, there are a ton of ads with QR codes in the New York City subways, despite the lack of Internet access. Huh?

2. Don’t forget about human beings.
The Home Depot has said that its big push into 2D barcodes will give customers access to more product information when they need it. That’s a great addition for a brand that has always sought to educate its customers and prided itself on its staff’s product knowledge. The challenge is to put those two things together: the new technology and the human element.

3. Allow for the majority of people who aren’t there yet.
A random sampling of my early adopter friends found that while everyone had a lot of very intelligent things to say about buying via mobile and QR codes and so forth, very few people had a positive experience to report. Take that experience and add more negatives for the less tech-savvy shoppers and consumers out there.

4. Understand the difference between shopper and consumer.
A shopper needs to feel informed and empowered in the moment—and that means that technology has to be an invisible enabler, not a barrier. Consumers have more time and more patience to explore and experiment.

5. Make sure it’s consistent with the brand promise.
Walmart takes pride in helping its customers live better. The Home Depot empowers DIY’ers. Every brand has a promise, and the retail experience needs to deliver on that promise, whatever the technology.