Gary Lombardo of Demandware recently posted a great piece on "5 Technologies That Will Change How Consumers Shop." We already had the e-commerce revolution, brace for a new wave of digitally fueled consumerism. Lombardo is bullish on new ways to process payments and deliver shopping experiences and offers to consumers. However, he is most excited about the possibilities that Near field communication (NFC) -- still nascent -- will deliver. For starters, consumers will maintain their digital wallets -- including debit and credit cards -- within their mobile device. In a store, simply tapping their phone against an NCF reader will enable the transaction.
Here are Gary's top five game-changing technologies:
Mobile computing: "Retailers can now deliver coupons to shoppers on mobile devices based on location, past shopping behavior and preferences, moment of need, and that are paperless, making them convenient to redeem...."
2D barcodes: "2D codes do not require a lot of time or money to implement and can have large potential returns, so experimenting with them while the cost of learning is low is worth considering." Challenges: "Standardization of code technology (open QR codes v proprietary MS Tags), reader availability, and consumer awareness." Also a possibility of eventual obsolescence from Near field communication (NFC).
Location-based services: "Location-based services give retailers a way to take the in-store experience to a much richer, deeper level, which in turn increases brand loyalty and transactions.'
Augmented reality: "Augmented reality (AR) will be a disruptive technology that changes how consumers interact with their environments, being a primary conduit for connecting the digital world and the real world....Most early AR success is on mobile devices since it taps into the unique capabilities of mobile: personalization, context and immediacy. They also solve a practical problem for the shopper. Eventually, AR will propagate more widely to other multichannel touchpoints, including merging with other technologies such as LBS, 2D codes and NFC." Challenge: Still in its infancy.
Near field communication: "Near field communication (NFC) has the potential to be the most disruptive and have the biggest impact for retailers.... It will link together applications and services across different industries, including mobile commerce, mobile marketing, and mobile customer relationship management. For shopping, consumers will be able use NFC to check-in to locations, acquire and redeem loyalty points and coupons, learn more about products, and use it as a form of payment." Challenges: "Standards must be agreed upon, the NFC ecosystem must be built out (device manufacturers including NFC chips in devices, merchants upgrading POS, financial institutions, network operators and others agreeing upon transaction flow and fees), and consumer awareness must be raised significantly."