Have App, Will Shop
American shoppers are experimenting with reality. An IBM-supplied augmented reality app is being tested at unnamed U.S. retail chains that lets shoppers specify the ingredients they want in the products they are seeking on store shelves.
Typical specs include "more wholegrains," "less" or "no" gluten or lactose, biodegradable packaging, etc. Meal components can also be specified. After creating a profile detailing dietary, environmental and religious preferences, as well as pricing, all the shopper has to do is scan the shelf with the smartphone or tablet’s video camera. No more time-consuming reading of small print on labels, the app does it all for you.
John Kennedy, IBM’s corporate marketing vice president, explained to Advertising Age that, "the app will recognize it and superimpose the information you’re looking for on the product itself. … Therefore, it brings more information to bear on the decision." He added, "It opens questions about what can happen in the relationship between the retailer and shopper and ultimately the [brand] marketer."
Another bonus is that shoppers have control. Their own equipment displays the information they want. No dependence on what marketers or retailers choose to reveal. And, if the device can connect to social media, shoppers can gather opinions and exchange comments in all the usual ways.
IBM says the app can scan a shelf of cereal for multiple criteria and find "a brand low in sugar, highly rated by consumers — and on sale." The information requested is supplied along with a coupon "to entice consumers to make a purchase." Satisfying consumers’ specific needs should "keep them coming back" while understanding preferences also helps with offers for related products.
Wired.com expands on the app’s non-grocery potential for "digging deeper into product minutia once you’ve made your first cut. … Point it at a row of video games, and the app will tell you which game is suitable for little Timmy." Their source, mobile commerce initiatives global leader, Paul Papas, explained, "It uses image recognition … can pick out individual products similar to how humans see."
It’s also hoped the app will reduce "showrooming" through the quality of experience and information made available. Once proved, promotions and loyalty schemes will be added.
- Made in IBM Labs: Augmented Reality Mobile Shopping App – IBM
- IBM tests "augmented reality" shopper app – Advertising Age
- IBM’s augmented reality app exposes the sugary sins of breakfast cereal – Wired
- IBM labs pitches the future of augmented reality shopping with mobile app prototype – IBM/Engadget
Discussion Questions: How will apps that personalize the in-store experience change the way Americans shop? Do you see the potential for apps such as the one described in this story to reduce the amount of showrooming that takes place?