BrainTrust Query: 2012 Predictions for Retail Technology
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt from a current article from Insight-Driven Retailing Blog.
In past years we’ve seen the rise of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon, but 2012 will mark a year of war between these juggernauts on the retail battlefield. We’ll also continue to see lots of new alternative payment types, more engineered systems, better social analytics, more 2-D barcodes, greater adoption of cloud services and improved f-commerce.
Here are four larger trends I see for 2012:
1. Mobile Loyalty
The traditional loyalty card has been a blunt instrument that worked well for the consumer but didn’t deliver for most retailers. The concept of geo-fencing has been around a while, but there are few retailers that have really adopted it. The smartphone, with geo-fencing enabled, needs to become the consumer’s loyalty card where retailers can incent, learn from and communicate with customers. In 2012, geo-fencing will take off and deliver value for both consumers and retailers. Look for new loyalty programs built around smartphones.
2. Facebook Levels Off, Google+ Stalls, Groupon Withers, Amazon’s on Fire
The novelty of Facebook is wearing off, so while there are lots of users, I believe the engagement of those users will wane. At the same time, I seriously doubt many will close their Facebook accounts and make a permanent move to Google+.
Retailers will also learn that their exchange of profits for new, disloyal customers through Groupon isn’t sustainable.
But Amazon’s success with the Kindle will translate into more Prime customers and greater loyalty. The trend for shoppers to skip Google searches and go directly to amazon.com will continue and Amazon will get more aggressive with books, movies, and music. Look for Amazon to acquire in the digital content area.
3. Apple Payments
With all the news about alternate payments, this isn’t a stretch at all. Apple will finally release the iPhone 5 with NFC support and start to leverage its iTunes customer base for payments in non-Apple stores. I don’t see how this will be financially viable with both Apple and credit cards taking a cut of each sale, so look for Apple to push customers toward ACH (debit/checking) as PayPal does. Look for Apple to start a loyalty program to incent consumers to use the new payment vehicle.
4. Mobile Self-Checkout
Self-checkout, especially at grocery stores, has been around for a while. Some love it, some don’t. Smartphones now make it possible to simulate an e-commerce experience in the physical store. No need to stand in line at all. Mobile POS is increasingly in the hands of associates, so it’s not a huge step to expose that functionality directory to customers. As Apple leads the way, look for grocery chains to quickly add the capability followed by home improvement stores.
Discussion Questions: Which technologies mentioned in the article do you see gaining significant ground at retail in 2012? Which of the technology wunderkinds (Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon) are best positioned to further transform retailing in 2012?