A nice execution of a virtual shoe fitting powered by Kinect
Virtual Shoe Fitting
It appears that QR code enabled Virtual Stores are continuing to prove popular across the globe as Canada’s Well.ca creates Toronto’s first QR code enabled virtual store where Brookfield Place connects with Union Station.
Well.ca is Canada’s largest health, baby and beauty e-commerce retailer. Today, with 15 per cent of its sales emanating from mobile devices, the privately held e-commerce business is finding a new path in virtual retailing, Mr. Asaria, founder of Well.ca and a former software engineer at BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd said.
Through e-commerce and technology and mobile devices, there’s room for real disruption in the way shopping happens in Canada. There’s a bunch of big retailers that are going to have to react to it.
We first saw QR code enabled virtual stores appear in a variety of Asian countries including the Tesco install in South Korea last year. Recently Australian grocery chain Woolworths trialed two virtual stores at Sydney and Melbourne subway stations, since then we have seen the Woolworths virtual stores roll out to several other locations including bus shelters.
How the Well.ca app works
Check out the video below
PayPal has launched cashless transactions to allow PayPal customers to pay for goods and services at traditional brick and mortar stores using their existing PayPal accounts. PayPal users can use a special PayPal card and a pin or simply enter their mobile number and a pin code at various Home Depot stores throughout the US.
This approach can bypass a user’s wallet and smart device altogether, unlike NFC enabled payments which use an NFC enabled device such as a person’s smart phone or tablet. It is a good move by PayPal but is it really that different from traditional credit card payments? If you are using the card option, then not really, although it does allow you to use your PayPal account instead of a credit or debit card, which is a no brainer to allow PayPal to increase their market share against the likes of Visa and MasterCard.
This is a bold move by PayPal and time will tell as PayPal rolls this out across all 2,000 Home Depot stores throughout the US in the next few weeks. Somehow I don’t think this will be a replacement for NFC payments but if PayPal can gain traction and increase partnerships with more brick and mortar stores then it may prove to be a strong contender in the battle for the mobile wallet, as for consumers, the more options the better.
An Australian retailer has taken a page from the books of our Korean and Chinese supermarket giants with the launching of a Woolworths virtual store in Town Hall train station in Sydney with another virtual store launching today in Melbourne.
We first saw virtual supermarkets pop up last year when grocery retailer Tesco created an almost identical installation in Korea allowing customers to shop using their mobile phones and the QR code enabled billboards. Sportsgirl recently turned its Chapel St store in Melbourne into a virtual store with a QR code enabled billboard on their storefront while renovating.
Woolworths customers can use the current Woolworths mobile application to scan barcodes on the stores virtual display consisting of over 120 products. Scanned items are then placed into the customers virtual shopping cart for check out and delivery via the mobile app. Virtual supermarkets are not only convenient but they could also save commuters valuable time during the week by enabling them to do their grocery shopping while waiting for public transport. The Woolworths virtual store was created in conjunction with M&C Saatchi, Mitchell & Partners and Tigerspike.
The virtual supermarket wall is just one idea we are working on to make our customers’ lives easier. The virtual supermarket will be at Town Hall for a week and we will take feedback from customers throughout this time. This experience will provide us with important information on how we can develop this concept into the future,
said Tjeerd Jegen, Woolworths director of supermarkets.
This is a great first step for Australian grocery retailers at providing tools to help bridge the gap between online stores and traditional bricks and mortar retailers. We are yet to see if the Woolworths virtual supermarket will entice online shoppers away from the desktop or simply become a nice PR activity. Virtual supermarkets and retailer walls could well be the way of the future but is it too early for Australians? We shall see.
Remember all those times when you were sitting in a cinema enjoying a movie and realized all of sudden that you had run out of supplies? The popcorn now just consists of a dozen hard un-popped kernels and thousands of lonely salt granules, not to mention that oversized cup containing nothing but watered down, flat soft drink from the mass of ice that has now melted. Well the days of having to do the mad dash back to the candy line during a movie could now be over. The latest installment to come out of the MasterCard labs is the QkR mobile app (pronounced Quicker). The app is based on the QkR platform unveiled late last year which facilitates the triggering of payments by a number of sources including NFC (Near-Field Communication), sound frequency codes and even gestures like those used with the X-Box Kinect.
MasterCard, Commonwealth Bank and Hoyts cinemas have joined forced to facilitate the ordering and delivery of those crucial snacks without ever having to leave your seat.
QR codes, ID numbers and NFC tags embedded into La Premier seats allow users to complete purchases via the mobile application by scanning, taping or entering the tag number into the app. This pulls up a food menu allowing users to order food and drinks and have them delivered straight to their seat. The application first needs to be configured with the customers valid MasterCard credentials.
Australia is an ideal candidate to trial this technology and I am happy to see us get something early rather than later for a change (i.e. Google Wallet)
Australians enthusiastically embrace new technologies – particularly those that make life easier. That’s why this is a great market to pilot QkR with Hoyts
said Matt Barr, MasterCard Australia’s Head of Market Development and Innovation.
The QkR app is currently available for iPhone and Android phones although the use of the NFC feature will likely be limited until more hardware manufactures catch up and start rolling NFC into their mobile handsets. I was surprised to see that the app does not include integration with the iCarte case for iPhone considering Commonwealth Bank were also involved in this implementation and already had the capability from the Kaching app.
The world is also still patiently waiting to hear if the iPhone 5 will have NFC built in, fingers crossed.
By utilizing the customers own device, it limits the initial cost for retailers as minimal infrastructure costs are required making it an easy fit for other retailers, restaurants and fast food outlets with table top ordering and NFC enabled menus. We should start to see more QR codes now embedded with NFC tags for use in print and outdoor advertising and points of purchase. This easily allows the download of coupons via scanning of the QR code or by simply tapping an NFC enabled device. This is the first of many rollouts we expect to see from MasterCard as the war on mobile payments kicks into gear.
Mastercard QkR platform is continuing to roll out across multiple channels including TV and radio.
Some of the additional features to come out of MasterCard’s QkR platform are the ability to trigger a transaction based on sound frequencies put out by a radio or TV which can be picked up by a mobile device. Once the sound is recognized the device can ask you if you are interested in purchasing a particular product or service which can be done direct from the device. QR codes displayed on TV screens during shopping programs or commercials can also be scanned by the device to trigger the purchase.
This could be the first step towards a new future of shopping as we see TV programs and commercials marked with codes or sounds to kick off steps to purchase without leaving the sofa. Restaurants and food outlets may replace staff with kiosks or smart menus that enable codes or tags to be tapped with a customer’s mobile device. No more waiting around for the bill while retailers can minimize shrinkage as customers per pay for purchases.
Consumer confusion and slow uptake may hinder the Hoyts trial until mobile devices catch up and users understand any potential security implications, as some customers are still too cautious to even submit their credit card details online, let alone to an application that sits on their phone which can be easily lost or stolen……but hey, so can a wallet!
You can find MasterCard’s QkR on trial from this month in Hoyts La Premier at Westfield’s Chatswood and Entertainment Quarter Moore Park ( Fox Studios )
QR codes are massive in other countries around the world and have been for quite some time now, however there is a bit of a debate around QR codes and their use here in Australia so thought I would just add my two cents.
QR codes or Quick Response codes have been around for quite a while now, they provide a quick and easy way to provide additional information to the user such as URLs or contact information by simply scanning a special code. QR codes were originally developed for the automotive industry for part tracking, they work similar to barcodes but were designed to allow its content to be decoded quickly and now appear in a variety of applications such as ticketing systems, product marketing and offline advertising.
QR codes are used quite heavily in Asian countries such as Japan and parts of the United Kingdom however Australia’s uptake of QR codes has not been somewhat sluggish, possibly due to the extra step of having to download and install readers as these are not included in the operating system of most Australian mobile devices so users can be somewhat confused as to what this strange looking image actually is.
The main use we see in marketing at the moment is to provide additional information or content to a consumer via a quick read of a QR code which will usually take the consumer to a piece of web content.
South Korea’s Tesco supermarket developed a virtual QR code based store front allowing customers to read QR codes from product images on their smart phones and place items directly into their online shopping cart, an awesome example of mobile commerce linking the offline and online worlds of supermarket shopping. The virtual stores were placed where customers wait like train stations and bus shelters turning that waiting time into shopping time. Brilliant!
Check out the video below for more details.
Whether or not QR codes will be embraced or skipped over by Australians is yet to be determined however with technologies like NFC or Near Field Communication set to explode in 2012 my guess is that QR codes are likely to fade away quietly in the night. If mobile phone devices initially included QR code readers like many devices in Japan did then I think the fate of QR codes would have been significantly different. This fact will also have an impact on the success of NFC in Australia; NFC enabled devices are already wide spread in countries like Japan but if NFC is not sufficiently supported by the top mobile device manufactures in Australia then NFC could be sharing a casket with its QR code cousin. We shall pray for you NFC.
Merchants aren’t the only ones struggling with Customer Loyalty in Group Buying. Daily deal sites are struggling with their own issues of loyalty at present with most customers being signed up to numerous daily deal sites with the driver to purchase being predominately the deal itself, the best deal from the best merchant. Most customers who shop with multiple group buying sites rarely recall which provider they secured the deal through. Group buying sites that wish to continue to flourish need to focus aggressively on personalisation, targeting and ways to build customer loyalty.
It is great to see a few of the big boys looking at ways to build loyalty for their merchants. Bloomspot is a Group buying provider that allows for tracking of customer spending at particular merchants by analysing credit card data. This enables a merchant to provide additional discounts to returning customers without having to do their own tracking. Groupon has also recently launched “Groupon Rewards” which works in a similar fashion. Groupon rewards customers shopping at the same merchant by unlocking additional discounts.
It will be interesting to see how the Australian Daily Deal sites tackle customer loyalty as we head into 2012.
Daily deal sites are booming with group buying providers expanding at a rapid rate across numerous verticals, from kid’s products to beauty, travel, pets, farming equipment-you name it. With this rapid growth, Group buying in Australia is set to be a $400 million dollar market by the end of 2011.
The massive success of group buying is mainly due to the large customer uptake and viral spread of offers combined with the benefits of mass marketing for merchants. According to Billy Tucker CEO of Cudo,
The great advantage to businesses who engage in Group Buying campaigns is that it is a pay-for-performance model. The business only pays if a target number of customers come through the doors. This means the merchant knows what their minimum return on investment will be and can measure performance down to the last dollar
However, like any industry experiencing growth like that of the daily deals market, it has been subject to its fair share of uncertainty regarding its effectiveness.
According to a recent study by a proffesor at Rice University around 80% of customers using Groupon style coupons are first time customers, meaning group buying is definitely doing its job in bringing in new customers, but unfortunately this study also revealed that only 20% of customers return to a merchant and this is where a merchant can really build a strong ROI so loyalty needs to be much more of a focus for businesses.
Loyalty for the Merchant
With the boom in online retail sales , customer loyalty is becoming harder and harder to build and maintain with price point, delivery times and product range being the driving forces behind online shopping. Despite this boom, online still only accounts for 11% of the $245 billion spent on retail in Australia with over 65% of people still preferring to shop in store. This gives retailers who have a multi-channel offering including a physical store, a massive advantage to add that additional level of personalisation and customer service, which is much more effective at building brand loyalty.
Customer Service is Key
Through research of some high profile daily deal sites and also having worked across development platforms for deal providers as well as business development, It is revealed that one of the biggest mistakes that merchants make, is that daily deal customers are generally treated as second rate and do not get the full customer experience from the merchant like full paying customers. This is mainly due to the fact that daily deal customers are generally not as profitable initially….and can also sometimes be harder to please. Not giving deal customers the full customer experience is basically a waste of the group buying campaign to begin with as money is rarely made on the campaign itself, but rather on the up sell, return and referrals from happy customers.
Customer service is the most important point to remember, if you only remember one thing from this post then this will be it; Wow every customer that comes through that door!
Shoppers are going to try multiple merchants and the ones who treat deal customers like all other paying customers will be the ones that stand out and the ones most likely to build loyalty and encourage referral business. Do not waste each new customer that running a deal has brought you. See each customer as an opportunity, an opportunity to create a brand advocate, a loyal customer, and most importantly a profit.
The deal site has done its job, it has brought you possibly hundreds of new customers and you need to make sure you are prepared for it, from a process point of view and from a resourcing point of view. The last thing you want is to create a negative experience for these new customers and your existing customers by being unprepared.
Daily deal customers can be a lot tougher to please than regular customers and most rarely spend above the voucher value, (36% according the Rice University study) this can sometimes have an impact on the way these customers are treated by the business and its employees due to the profitability they provide in that particular transaction. The focus needs to be on creating a positive customer experience. Sure, up selling is great and can help offset some of the cost of running the offer but it mustn’t be the priority.
This approach may seem a little challenging as it is sometimes difficult to track the return on investment in the long term. You can measure the ROI for your offer by tracking the following:
This is all quite easy to track with an in house database, loyalty program or POS system.
So here are a few key points to help build loyalty for Daily Deal Merchants
Desired results for a Group Buying offer
Let me share my own story with you. My partner and I purchased a coupon for $30 for $60 worth of food at a place called Avido Wine Bar. We never would have tried this place otherwise but turned out we loved the food, the atmosphere and the service. The staff was well prepared and treated us very well and we had a great time. A month later we returned with a group of 10 for a Christmas party at full price, not bad, the restaurant would have already made its money back on our coupon 10 fold. We received the same great food and the same great service so 6 months later we returned for our engagement party and booked out the whole restaurant for the day. Now that is a successfully run campaign! If we were treated any differently or given second rate service then we never would have returned.