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December 23, 2013

Making Christmas Merrier

Posted by Paddy Rao (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:22 AM

Retailers Go High-tech With Online Shopping [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsxkzlMapFI]

Nobody is suggesting you not wait for a jolly old elf to leave you presents this holiday season. But if you're really hedging your bets, perhaps you should get to know some applications that help you shop online.

Long gone are the days when a handful of sites offered a limited supply of books and CDs. Today the selection of wares you can find online is dizzying - and so is the number of retail sites. I like to use the analogy of trudging through the rain to go to a store only to find that its shelves are bare and the sales associates are rude. You probably wish you'd found a different store before setting out on your time-consuming journey. It's no different with shopping online.

Digital consumers are a very aggressive bunch. They want their devices not only to guide them through the throes of shopping but also to view and act on suggestions based on their buying habits. Credit Big Data and the sophisticated analytics that go with it.

We've heard a lot about Cyber Monday over the last few years. It's the Monday that follows the American holiday of Thanksgiving in late November. The day was an unofficial start of the holiday shopping season in earnest. But a funny thing about technological progress: Pretty much every day in December has become its own version of Cyber Monday. No longer do we set aside one day to do our online shopping. To do so would be very late 1990s, wouldn't it? A consumer firm discovered that one-quarter of all working Americans spend four hours or more shopping online for holiday gifts during their work hours on Cyber Monday. Little do many of them know that with the right app, they can shop when they're not nearly as busy with their jobs and when their supervisors aren't looking disapprovingly at their screens!

Shopping apps leverage metadata to chart your shopping trip for you before you've even turned on your search engine. Such apps can use retail competition to your advantage; that is, allow stores to bid on you as a customer. Talk about being empowered in the digital age. It used to be that you bid against other consumers as the price of a product went skyward.

There's yet another aspect of the hifalutin auction that has turned itself on its head because of digital commerce: Only the wealthiest of consumers used to be able to order of bid on "bespoke" products. Now retailers use data to customize every solutions, service, and product to every consumer who expresses interest in an item. The advantage to the retailer is that the consumer perceives this action as going well beyond the call of service.

Little do they know that because of data analytics, digitally enabled stores are now as speedy and as keen as a big holiday elf.

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