Not too long ago, the team at Qliktag Software rolled out an e-commerce feature or a “Buy Now” button for the Q*Engine mobile engagement and mobile marketing platform. Essentially it enables a customer to pick up a product in a store, scan it with their smartphone, learn more about the product and if they choose to buy it / order it online from the manufacturer or brand rather than physically purchase it right there, they have the option to do that. The feature was intended to combat “showrooming” which is a phenomenon a large number of brick and mortar retailers are up against and rather than have a customer pull out their mobiles and research other online stores that can have it delivered, it enables them to go to the brand/manufacturers online store and order it.
There may be a loss of margin but the business is not lost to a competitor online. It also comes in handy where options or stock may not be available in a physical store and the customer can place an order for the variant they need through their mobile. For example, if a pair of jeans I want in the store isn’t available in a particular size, I can scan it and place an order for my size through the “Buy Now” feature. Once again, at least the brand hasn’t lost a sale and a customer for the lack of options in store.
Showrooming aside, there is a whole other area technology like this has applications in. Think about re-ordering and re-stocking products. I was using the office whiteboard today when my whiteboard marker ran dry. All the other markers in the room had run dry too. Wouldn’t it be great if I could scan the barcode on the marker using my mobile, hit “buy now” and order 5 more right then? I may have purchased the original marker at a store, but the quickest way to re-order it would be to physically connect with the “thing” (in this case the whiteboard marker) and order a few more using mobile commerce? It would ensure the marker brand/manufacturer repeat business and they’ve retained a customer by enabling their product to be mobile interactive and easy to re-order.
Right where I’m seated now keying away at this blog post, I can see a package of printing paper with a few last sheets left. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could use my mobile to interact with that and place an order for more? Wouldn’t it be convenient if I could use my mobile to interact with this office chair which seems to be creaking and pull up the contact number for the servicing department so they can come take a look at it? Or pre-order a packet of my favorite coffee since it looks like there’s just enough for a last few cups.
In an era of the “Internet of Things”, it’s not just about connected devices transmitting data through the web. It’s also about “things” becoming mobile and web interactive and having a presence online as an individual object or SKU. The area where this internet of things collides with mobile commerce is going to be an even more interesting one. Rather than seeing an object and researching it online through keying in search terms, you simply walk up to the object and interact with it using your phone and technologies like barcodes, QR codes, NFC stickers or iBeacons and directly pull up information and features from the product itself that enable you to do a set of things.
In a world where the internet of things and mobile commerce merge, everything around you in the physical world is mobile interactive and capable of both delivering information as well as accepting input. Where offline and online are intertwined and mobile devices are the bridges. Having worked with some of our customers and seen this deployed, they’re already making it happen. It’s not a question of when it will begin. It already has.