Thinking a bit more after my article on why Walmart should buy B&N, I started thinking more about the advantages of Amazon to traditional retailers and how Walmart and other retailers could effectively compete. How can a brick and mortar store compete with the ecommerce giant?
Amazon gets to know you very well. You let Amazon know exactly who you are, they have your purchase history, when you buy, how much you buy and why you buy.
While I assume Walmart certainly tracks as much as it can, how many people come in the store, what items are selling what items are not, and probably basket analysis (aka Co-occurrence). The store however does not know who you are and your specific history. BTW, I am bullish on Walmart right now.
Now imagine the following:
- You walk into a Walmart
- Your phone buzzes
- You look at your phone and are prompted to sign into Walmart’s free Wifi which will automatically also signs you into the companies website Walmart.com.
- Settings and agreements on your phone can be managed so that this sign in process automatically happens when you walk into the store.
- Walmart.com knows that you are ‘in-store’.
- You pick out a shopping cart which has a unique identifier and links the shopping cart to your in-store shopping session.
- The shopping cart also has a build in wireless charger for your phone.
- You pick up an item place in your cart, the item shows up in your online walmart.com shopping cart as well. Possibly tracked by RFID and your phone.
- You walk down the aisle and notice your favorite beef jerky is out of stock. You hold your phone and scan the QR code, the product enters your cart anyway notifying you it will be shipped within a few days to your home.
- You are all done shopping. You hit ‘Proceed to Check-Out’ on your phone. You are offered an additional discount off the total price for using this system. Your beef jerky was also qualified for free shipping. You hit the final button and pay.
- Being a good environmental shopper you brought your own bags and a employee shows up to offer you help out with a big smile as you avoid the check-out line.
Now Walmart knows who you are, they can build a history and send you precision type ads and notifications. You equally become use to shopping online with their site. While the above is extremely complex and needs to integrate data centers, single-sign on, location, RFID and shopping cart tracking it is possible. Obviously this would need to be tested with a small number of stores first. But the above shopping experience would provide a huge competitive advantage with Amazon.com.
Maybe the above is already being developed? Amazon.com could also end up partnering with retailers to offer the in-store website shopping service as well.
The above shopping scenario could very well be the future. Well it happen? I have no idea. This is really just me thinking out loud as a fun exercise. But this is what I would be thinking about if I was an executive at a major retailer.
Now, I realize this sounds like one step away from facial recognition personalized shopping like in the movie Minority Report. The cell phone step would make the transition less terrifying for most people.
Folks will no doubt also be concerned about privacy. I believe there will be a market for those not willing to give up their privacy. When we tend to move far in one direction in society, something else seems to arise to counter. I am an advocate for anonymous based browsing and shopping and I hope the two worlds can co-exist.by