I have been discussing, here and there, that the next battle ground in the marketing arena is the mobile space. Here is one example of this. Some of the world’s largest grocers are turing your mobile device into a self-serve, hand-held scanner for your grocery shopping experience. Just download an app, scan what you want as you shop, bag it, and just walk out the door. No need to wait in line or even interact with a checkout clerk or bagger. Even in the self-scan stations, you still must wait in line. Now you don’t.
Before, a few grocers experimented with the hand-held scanners THEY provided you to scan your purchases. That never got wide-spread acceptance because the cost of the equipment was prohibitive. The food business is already a low-margin industry. Creating an app is much less expensive and you (with your smart phone) provide the equipment. So, how does this translate into marketing on the mobile platform? Glad you asked. Based on what you scan, the grocer knows where you are in the store. They will provide instant coupons and discounts to your phone on items that are close by that will entice you to check them out while you’re already in that isle. Suppliers such as Proctor and Gamble, Kraft, and Coca-Cola provide the offers and digital coupons to be sent to your mobile device via the app you downloaded. This also gives the retailer more data on what you buy on a regular basis and what kinds of offers you respond to. Real-time research. Food giants Stop & Shop, Meijer, and Tesco are among those who are already using this technology in many test markets.
This also affects the bottom line. Early reports show a reduction in costs of 12-15%. That’s huge in this low-margin business. The darker side is that it isn’t good news for the unemployment front. Some of these savings come as the expense of reduced checkout clerks and baggers.
This is only the beginning of marketing directly to customers in real-time, and with geo-targeting, just-in-time offers and information. Mobile, like social media, is both mass marketing as well as one-on-one marketing at the same time. Time to pick up your smart phone and let’s go shopping.