I am not a big fan of shopping. Actually, I probably hate it — and I especially dislike shopping on Black Fridays because of the crowds. In fact, I hate shopping so much, that I generally just buy things off the mannequin so I could get in and out of the store/mall as fast as possible. However, on this past Black Friday, I was coaxed into going because, well, “the deals were too good to pass up” for one particular fiancee of mine.
We headed out to West Valley Mall in Santa Clara, CA and I was able to snap a few pictures while coming away with some interesting observations after spending about an hour in the god-forsaken place. In short, I was disappointed to see a lot of the same mistakes being made with regard to mobile marketing. For the sake of the medium, I really hope marketers, agencies, and platforms can (quickly) learn from the mistakes before over-saturating the market and desensitize shoppers.
Observation #1: QR Codes Need to be Special & Consistent. It’s no secret that Banana Republic is a merchandising and promotions machine. So naturally I was pretty excited when I saw a print sign prompting me to scan a QR Code for a 40% off coupon for one-full priced item. It took me less than a minute to get the deal. Sweet! Then when I got to the store, I found out that I didn’t even need to scan the coupon: In fact, the ENTIRE STORE was already offering a Black Friday special of 40% without the coupon.
Blarg. One minute of my life that I’ll never get back. The lesson? Make QR-Codes worth the time of the person scanning it. Make it special — else, what’s the point?
Observation #2: WiFi Considerations. Westfield Mall has this photo-backdrop where people can take pictures amongst a wintery wonderland of snowglobes and candycanes: It’s called LOLiday Cards, which requires the shopper to download an app that allows you to take pictures and “superimpose” the subject of your picture in a variety of compromising holiday-themed outfits.
I thought this was kinda cool. I scanned the QR Code for the application, which directed me to the iTunes app store. But then I found out the mobile application is over 20MB which, due to either Verizon and/or iPhone restrictions, requires me to download the application over WiFi. After going through the trouble of turning on the WiFi Antenna, I found out the Westfield WiFi network is a secured network. FAIL. There are a few lessons to be learned here, but I think the primary one is that mobile experiences need to be stupid-simple (like yours truly) for the end-user or adoption will be low.
Observation #4: The Brick-and-Mortar Store is a Destination. I was finally able to check out the new Microsoft store. Awkwardly enough, the store was 20 feet away from an Apple store. But I have to say, the Microsoft store is *really* well-designed with lounge areas, digital signage, and kiosks galore. It actually *might* be cooler than the Apple store. Yes, you read that right.
In this particular case, the Microsoft store looked twice as packed as the Apple store and featured “play areas” for shoppers to engage/use/interact with all of Microsoft’s gadgets and gizmos. The interesting thing is this: I don’t think these stores will actually generate tons of revenue. I think Microsoft’s strategy with their store front is to demonstrate their wares to the general public so the end consumer can then buy the product on Amazon, Best Buy, or some other e-tailer. Perhaps a retail trend we can look forward to?
Observation #4: Mobile Loyalty. While I didn’t get to play with a Tag Tile I spotted at a nearby dessert shop, I was fascinated that a (niche) stopgap solution was put in place until NFC or some other technology becomes more dominant. Which brings me to my last observation: The leading loyalty solution on the market is, arguably, Foursquare. And while walking by a pretzel shop, I overheard a conversation where a shopper tried to redeem a Foursquare offer at Brookstone, but the store associate had no idea what Foursquare was. It sounded messy, but this too, happened to me at a Sports Authority AND a Radio Shack last year — so I felt the shopper’s pain. The lesson? Make sure the people working in the stores are trained/educated on corporate marketing initiatives utilizing social media and mobile marketing.