With the rapid increase in the number and usage of smartphones and tablets, shopping is undergoing yet more change. First, there was (and is) the effect of web-based shopping as a replacement of visiting actual bricks and mortar retail outlets. Now, however, a new wave of retailing opportunities is arising through the combined use of social media, the GPS capability of smartphones, and the online catalogues of retailers (as well as real-time inventory management and tracking systems).
For example, a shopper can use a Future Shop mobile app to browse through the “endless aisle” of merchandise on its site, compare prices and features, check availability at a store nearest her location, and then buy the item through the smartphone and then either select for delivery or pick-up at the store in an hour or so when they will walk by the actual retail outlet.
Poynt is one of the most popular of these types of apps. With over 12 million users, this Calgary-based company acts as an enabler to help its customers find businesses, products or events and then to facilitate the purchase transaction. Poynt collects a huge store of data on things like movie showtimes, gas prices, restaurant cuisines and filters that data to users based on their geographic location as determined by GPS. (Poynt’s site is at: http://about.poynt.com/index.html)
Other apps blending on-line data with real-time physical location are quickly springing up. Yorkdale shopping centre in Toronto has an app that shows where you are in the store, directions to what you’re looking for, and where parking spots are located. FastMall, a U.S. service, has an app with over 1,200 malls.
These developments are important to keep on top of as performance improvement professionals because they provide opportunities for innovations in process streamlining, improvement, and real-time measurement.