The Storybook In-Store Mobile Experience, And Why Uber Could Provide It

It is late September, which means marketers and retailers are in full Holiday season freak-out. The majority of retail commerce is still done in store, yet a recent MasterCard study found that “eight out of 10 consumers globally use a computer, smartphone, tablet or in-store technology when shopping.”

Let’s take a look at how in a fantasy world, marketers could use smartphones to increase sales and cement repeat business.

Jane Doe has just entered a busy wine shop. Her smartphone beeps,

Welcome Jane! Looking for a good Pinot? James has 6 on display in the back left corner of the store for between $19-$25.”

Jane ignores the message and stops in front of California blends. Her smartphone beeps,

“If you’d like to see the Wine Spectator rating, hold your phone over a bottle in camera mode. If you’d like multiple reviews of that bottle, press#.” 

Jane scans a couple of bottles for reviews. Her phone beeps,

“Would you like suggestions for food pairing? Type or say “food” and scan a bottle. Type or say “recipe” if you see something you’d like to try to make.”

Jane settles on two and starts heading to the door. Her phone beeps again.

Would you like to checkout instantly with PayPal, Visa Checkout or MasterCard MasterPass? Type or say it. We will check you out now and send you a PDF receipt.”

Jane says PayPal, waves to the clerk and walks out of the shop. About ten minutes later, Jane receives another message

Thanks for stopping by, Jane. We have noted your purchase in our database. With more purchases, we will be able to create a profile of your particular tastes and be able to make recommendations based on it. On your next visit, please accept a $2 off coupon with our compliments. We will apply it automatically. Feel free to send us a message if you have questions about wine. Have a great day!”

Such a fantasy retail experience would require a lot of things, particularly a sophisticated database management system. But look at what could be included and accomplished in a seamless manner – two way personalized communication, couponing, product research and instant checkout/payment. This can lead to the highly valued ongoing relationships that successful retailers thrive on.

The fantasy retail experience is a fantasy today for reasons you might not have considered. The technology, piece parts and back end systems exist to make all of this possible, but efforts are thwarted by cost, retail priorities and the battle over who will deliver it.

The most natural delivery option is a dedicated retail app. However, only a select few retailers carry enough weight with consumers for them to download and actively use a dedicated retail app. The other options for the vast majority of retailers are:

  • Payment network apps. Leveraging their instant payment services, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal could become retail engagement platforms which could serve cardholders and a vast number of retail partners. There is potential appeal to consumers because they could use the payment network app of their choice across most retailers. As an extension of that idea, some major retail banks, such as Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, could offer such an app to their own payment card holders.
  • Social Network and Messaging Apps. Facebook/Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Kik, Viber, Twitter are very likely candidates to offer such retail engagement services. They are widely and actively used by consumers with the appeal of viral marketing. They are all capable of offering SDKs for seamless notifications and fast checkout via the payment networks. What’s more, they are all experimenting with buy buttons and other commerce and advertising integration. The greatest challenge for the social and messaging apps would be seamless coupon distribution/integration.
  • Travel Apps Like Expedia, Yelp. Some apps have consumer appeal in specific verticals, but are natural companion apps for when consumers travel. It would make sense they could be potential platforms to enable the fantasy in store experience.
  • Uber. Particularly intriguing is the potential Uber has as a partner to retailers. This Summer they released an SDK to enable third parties to send/receive notifications to consumers. They already have payment mechanisms in place and could extend instant checkout to the payment networks. Uber will become a platform for much more than ground transportation.

Now Available: Custom Qualitative Research

Interested in promoting thought leadership in your area of interest, or looking for a third-party produced market validation study? Whether it’s for external publication or internal use, Mark Beccue Consulting is pleased to offer custom qualitative research capabilities.

MBC can develop, write and deliver custom research projects on time and within budget. MBC can develop research on a broad range of topics within marketing, consumer technology, mobile consumer trends and telecommunications). Formats include (but aren’t limited to) research reports, white papers, e-books, presentations and articles.

For external publications, options include ghost written (no copyright or writing credit given to Mark Beccue Consulting) and co-developed/sponsored (MBC writing credit, co-published with sponsor).

Send an email to for a quote or for more information.

Post-Millennial Media Habits A Nightmare for Marketers

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars is an infectious, Morris Day and The Time-inspired stomp that over the past year has set the world on fire. It is the 9th most popular YouTube video of all time, with more than 1.03 billion views (as of today).

Ronson and Mars may be smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy, but they don’t rate with eight-year-old American boys, who prefer Popular MMOs . Never heard of Popular MMOs? They aren’t a pop band, they are a young couple who have produced more than 730 YouTube videos since September 2014 featuring — are you ready for this — themselves playing Minecraft.

I have gritted my teeth listening to my son watch this stuff for the past year. It’s painful to bear for almost anyone older than 11. But the joke is on me and you. In my estimation, Popular MMOs has racked up more than 1.4 BILLION views for the videos they have produced just since September 2014. While that is a collective number, it is with more views than any single YouTube video in history with the exception of Psy’s Gangnam Style. To top it all off, that collective 1.4 billion views is more valuable than Bruno’s one monster hit because Popular MMOs 730 videos attract a whole lot of regular, repeat, Minecraft-obsessed viewers.

While eight year-old American boys and the rest of their post-Millennial kindred might not be everyone’s target market right now, their disruptive media habits pose huge challenges for marketers today and in the years to come. Post-Millennials (also being called Generation Z, iGeneration, Homeland, no definitive name or clear dates for the demographic yet, though the rough identification are consumers born after the early 2000s) will be the first American generation to come of age in a time where advertising-supported media is not necessarily a given. This generation is resistant to advertising in its current form. They are the first generation to not have known life before DVRs, cord-cutting, Netflixing, smartphoning YouTubing Snapchatting newsfeeding adblocking, all of which will enable them to be the first generation to have control over whether or not they have to consume marketing messages with their content.

The value proposition of legacy advertising models is under pressure as more and more Americans fail to see the trade off for consuming marketing messages and interactions as a good value for what they receive (usually content). Constant connectivity, whether through smartphones, wearables, connected home/car/internet of things or who knows what else, will continue to broaden the way media and content are consumed. How will marketers react?

Personalized marketing, changing marketing from broadcast messaging to ongoing interactive conversations is one answer, but I have also suggested previously in my research that the value proposition ad supported media may not be enough, and that the time has come for marketers to consider adding other things of value in exchange for consuming ads. In the age of always-on connectivity, mobile data connectivity is a very valuable currency, and sponsored data is an option.