I stayed away from the crazy lines and the insane store hours during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Thanksgiving weekend, but ventured out shopping at my own pace. Not having a family in the States has made the Thanksgiving tradition more of a “break out of the routine,” but definitely one for which to be thankful. So what did I see? I’m most impressed by how mobility keeps stretching out functionality into new areas, making the shopper experience easier.
APPLE – [AAPL]
Yes, I went to the Apple store, but only because I badly needed a new set of headphones (I keep losing them on every flight I take). I navigated the annoying crowds, (yes, those that have never owned an iPad or even an iPod) and found the headsets I needed. Apple has been known for quite some time for enabling their retail store personnel with phones that could be used as cash registers; so I turned to one clerk and she said “Why don’t you pay for this using your phone?” I said, “That would be cool, if you can show me how.” She hooked me up with their store WiFi (which was fast and didn’t require a password), downloaded a FREE app, then opened it, scanned the product with my phone’s camera, and by using my Apple account, the same one I use to buy stuff on iTunes, I paid for my headsets. The receipt was emailed to my inbox, and I walked away from the store in less than 5 minutes. Amazing… do you see the possibilities with mobility here?
PENGUIN – [PERY]
Next, I went to a Penguin store (owned by Perry Ellis) on Miami’s Lincoln Road. What caught my attention was that they use tablets to get consumers to volunteer personal information, sign up for e-newsletters, personalized promotions, pretty much everything. Since the tablet was there to be used, it felt safe and somewhat intimate. Believe me, my wife gives a dirty look to any clerk who asks for our zip code, and don’t you dare ask for an email account. Here, she was volunteering all kinds of personal stuff to Penguin’s tablet… Impressive.
Then, I run into Bonobos, a store that is defying traditional retail for apparel as we know it. They have over a handful of stores nationwide, but they are much more than stores. They are showrooms for people to try on clothes, get sized – and pampered. Then, they can go online and buy without the fear or hesitation of the unknown; will the clothes fit? Even if you don’t like the fabric or the feel, they offer “insanely easy returns.” No wonder they got some coverage in the Harvard Business Review around the future of retail and “Where You’ll Buy Pants in the Future”. And they also have an app for that.
I hope you have had a great Thanksgiving, surrounded by family and friends. I hope you have been part of a legendary tradition and also hope you have taken advantage of these impressive mobility technologies which allow you to make shopping easier…and fun!