There’s a retail spy in your pocket

January 31, 2008

From Morris’s blog at InsideRetailer:  

We all carry this around with us, we hold it, we talk to it, we listen to it and we rely on it to bring the world to us, but the Trojan horses that it hides within are set to change the way we buy and sell forever.

The spy in your pocket is your mobile phone and the Trojan horses within are GPS (Global Positioning System) and MyLocation – Google’s use of mobile phone towers to pinpoint your location.

These two technologies have your location pinned to within a metre and are already whispering to the world where you are.

This whispering will get louder and more incessant over the next few years as we begin to use these tracking devices to locate our customers, lasso them and drag them in to our stores and head them directly to the products and services that they are most interested in.

This ability to pinpoint a consumer coupled with the growing avalanche of information that is available about them (collected from previous purchases, from surveys and forms they have filled in, from on line social networks and a plethora of other sources) means that we will be able to build a tailor made pull communication and promotion strategy specific to each customer that will individually entice them into our store and point them directly at what they want.

If this sounds like a fairy tale consider that on line we have being doing this for years.

Websites like, and many others already routinely track consumers activities and offer products, services and home pages tailored specifically to them based on their past preferences and purchases and even give them recommendations and reviews from their friends that have purchased similar products.

This retailing personalisation will continue in store as customers’ mobile devices identify them and guide them to where products are located in store, assist them to compare prices and availability with other nearby retailers and give them real time information, history and insights into products being considered.

In store retail assistants will also have information fed to them by consumers’ mobile devices that allow them to offer personalised service and up sell them with ancillary desired products that will all be seamlessly paid for by this same mobile device.

The retail world ahead is one of continuing customer personalisation, a world rich with information and alternatives and if we are going to succeed in this world we will have to learn to harness the spy within and other technologies to allow us to have open, personalised, meaningful and consultative interactions with each and every one of our customers.