The Showrooming Solution? Motorola’s Connected Shopper
In the retail sector, what’s the solution to disruptive change brought on by technology? Often enough, more technology.
While it doesn’t mention it by name, a recent article in RetailCustomerExperience.com suggests a technology-manufacturing giant has addressed the phenomenon of “showrooming” head-on with a unique, connected solution based in the smartphones of shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores.
Since the rise of e-commerce, the traditional retail industry has been struggling with showrooming – where a shopper visits a store only to put hands on the product, not to buy. The buying is done online, usually with a competitor after a quick price comparison, carried out often enough in the store itself, using an internet-connected smartphone and a search engine. Thus the expensive square footage of the brick and mortar enterprise becomes not more than a showroom for a product maker, throwing the business model of retailing into a state of chaos.
The problem – and the opportunity – is one of connectivity. The customer brings along with them to the store a live connection to a retailer’s competitor by way of the smartphone. No retailer should want to shut down that connection – any store that jams or blocks smartphone connectivity would quickly fall from favor from shoppers increasingly wedded to their devices for everything from staying in touch with family and friends to, yes, saving 20 bucks on a lawnmower occupying the retailer’s sales floor. The question is: what can that connectivity come with? What can be added?
Motorola is a company that knows a thing or two about mobile connectivity. Since its development of the first car radio in the 1920s, wireless communications has always been a key part of what has made the Motorola company a global success. Its latest engineering combines software, product tagging and smartphones to redefine that conversation the showrooming shopper is having with a competing e-tailer.
[Motorola] recently rolled out its Connected Shopper portfolio, covering aspects such as mobile integration, indoor positioning, endless aisle kiosks and in-aisle product scanning via smartphones.
“We have taken the view that there is a common theme of connectivity in everything we do,” said Tom Bianculli, senior director of the Emerging Business and Engineering office at Motorola. “Customers, sales associates … even the store itself is getting smarter.”
Bianculli said the Connected Shopper technology is designed to personalize in-store shopping — and much of that is done by utilizing the shopper’s smartphone. The solution can enable a retailer’s app to automatically connect a consumer’s smartphone to a store’s Wi-Fi network once the shopper opts-in and authorizes the application. From there, things start to get personal.
For example, if a shopper is in the store to purchase a specific item and searches for a lower price on the item in another store, the app, regardless if running, can send a notification to the shopper’s phone with a price match based on that search.
Long story short: far from restrict internet access, the system provides it to the shopper in the form of Wi-Fi connectivity. The catch: this is Wi-Fi that is connected to the store’s product inventory and is programmed to watch when a customer makes that online price comparison. When they do, it doesn’t interfere — but it does tell that customer by way of their smartphone that the store is willing to match the price they just got.
Connectivity: it works in (at least) two directions.