Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Could location-based apps save the retail industry?

So now almost everybody has a Smartphone. Great. I use mine to check scores, play Angry Birds, e-mail and get directions. I’m guessing we’re missing an opportunity here. I know there are tons of apps and all sorts of things I could be doing on it, but I just don’t seem to have the time to launch an app and figure out what I need to do to have my phone do it. Sometimes it’s just easier to do it myself. But…what if there was a mini-me in my phone that took care of things?

Good news! Well, good news if you live in Japan. D2 Communications has created a service that alerts you to things you need, based on your whereabouts. It’s called
i-concier. Looking for food? Shopping for electronics? Forgot to buy leeks? Don’t worry--go about your day and your phone will alert you when a solution presents itself. That’s how it works in Japan.

Wouldn’t it be great if our phones told us that the pair of jeans we were looking for online were actually in stock, the same price and in a store that is open until six and it’s on your way home? And, oh, by the way, the grocery store next door has leeks. Or, maybe my phone could tell me that I don’t have to go to Lowe’s to get a tail pipe extension cutter because the neighborhood hardware store has one. That would be so much more useful than telling me that I have six levels to go on Angry Birds.

Well, it only took 16 years for QR codes to make it over here from Japan. Let’s hope, for our retailers’ sake, it doesn’t take that long for location-based technology to reach the average American consumer.


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