It started off referencing a trial by KFC in the UK, where people will be able to order their food on their mobile and pick it up fro a separate queue on the store. As he said, nothing new there. It’s happening all over the world and doesn’t appear to cause any problems. It simply encourages other people waiting in longer lines to pick up the app from a QR code at the counter so that they can get through quicker next time themselves.
He also mentioned in another blog that Starbucks and Square are partnering and that they are planning on using GPS and ‘facial recognition’ to speed up authentication on mobile payments. I.e. the mobile GPS will confirm that the person is really there in the store and they will be able to see the users face on the Point of Sale display. This is where it gets interesting. How many people want Starbucks, or any retailer to have their photo, with recognition visible to someone on a checkout.
If Square has your details including your photo on their database, will it be unique to that shop, the whole chain, the credit card company, other Square users? Will it then be available under warrant to law enforcement agencies? Could the data be abused? Do customers want retail staff potentially having access to that information? Having a photo ID is one thing, but having it sitting on a retail database is quite another. How will that information be protected? How will it be used? Will it be shared with other organisations? I guess people can always pay cash.
Privacy may be more or less out the door, but if applications go this way, there needs to be real care with guardianship of information. Consumers need to know that their information is held in trust, what it will be used for and by whom and how it will be protected. They also need the ability to revoke access to their data and know that it has been removed if they so wish.
I’m not against this concept, I like the idea of encouraging loyalty and its nice for people to be greeted by name (when they want to be). Companies just need to be very careful about use of this technology. I once went to the wonderful Otara Markets to take photos for a 24 hour photo competition. Several people went into hiding when they saw me with their camera and one was about to get violent with me. It transpired that he was on home detention and shouldn’t have been there. Just an example of someone who might not appreciate being ID’d while buying lunch.
Richard talked about people in retail who can scan their own goods, doing price comparisons. That is definitely a fact, particularly in consumer electronics stores, but they are not the type of store where people will scan their own goods. There are all sorts of impediments to that, RF tags that need to be removed, security and so on. Price checking is big though and many retailers complain that people go into their stores and then check other stores pricing after scanning the barcode. I hear many complaints from people that customers scan a product such as a book and then buy it on eBay.
As an aside to this, my daughter wanted a copy of a new book of one of her favorite authors, but it hasn’t been released here in New Zealand yet and won’t be for several months. So she’s buying it online. New Zealand book publishers and retailers need to get with the program! We are a global village now, you can’t make people wait months after a book is launched overseas and expect to remain competitive locally. The publisher and retailer will miss out on local budgets and sales. Not smart in my book.
Retailers need to deal with this in other ways. They need to know what their competitors are up to and make sure they are competitive, but more importantly imho, they need to up the ante on Product Knowledge and customer service. People will spend a little more when they are treated with interest and respect. On my last TV shopping excursion my wife and I came home with a bigger TV than we planned for, as well as 3D glasses a Blue Ray player and a new fridge. We got a great deal on it, one of the staff delivered it all to our home and we got a great deal on the package. We did price comparison, visited a couple of other retailers who didn’t give us service worth a damn and the person who looked after us got her budget for the day. I also promoted her on Facebook and Twitter, recommending her to anyone in the area.
Anyway, I’ve had my rant. Times are changing, apps are here and people want them. People also want security and privacy, whilst they also want personalised, contextual service. These are not mutually incompatible. How do you make these things work so everyone is happy? Talk to consultants who live in the SoLoMo world. A lot of this technology is new, your customers don’t necessarily understand it, nor do your management teams. It’s not core business. You may be judged by the success of your trials. Do it well and you could be heroes. Do it poorly and you could be great case studies:)