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Retailing Strategies for 2012

Late last year, the Productivity Commission released a report about the Economic Structure and Performance of the Australian Retail Industry.

They said that a number of factors have been identified as drivers of growth in online sales in Australia in recent years. These include:

  • Convenience and availability of online shopping
  • Innovations in online selling — group sales, on the day special deals etc.
  • Emergence of m-commerce — the use of mobile devices to check prices

In this post, I’ll show you three examples of how innovation in online commerce, and m-commerce, is changing the face of retail.

QR Codes

QR stands for quick response and is a way to combine online and offline marketing. These codes have been used widely in Asia for nearly a decade and have recently been embraced by businesses in America and Australia.

The best explanation about how they work came via Social Media Examiner who said

“When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web; activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS; and connect the mobile device to a web browser.”

There will be a period of transition where mobile phone users will be confronted with QR codes and have to be educated about how to use them. Once that has happened, businesses have the potential to deliver value to customers in new and exciting ways. Here are some recent examples:

QR codes have huge potential for offline integration. My favorite example is the Tesco virtual stores in Korea. They created virtual stores on the walls of busy places such as train platforms. Buyers can scan the QR codes of selected products which are then delivered to their house.

This is the innovation that I am paying the most attention too. You can learn more about how this technology works via this infographic.

Augmented reality

In a post on Shopper Culture, Kevin White described augmented reality as ‘the technique of overlaying graphics on a real-world image so the graphics enhance and recontextualize the scene. Most of the techniques today are generated using a computer’s webcam.’

The video below demonstrates how it actually works.

Augmented reality isn’t a new technology. People have been experimenting with its potential for some time via sites like Layer.

The real game changer is how this technology can be applied online. Recently, The Age reported about how Banana Flame had created a virtual dressing room by using “online shoppers’ computer webcams to show them what clothes will look like on their bodies in real time.” You can see how it works via this video.

You can learn more about this technology via these two articles:

Facebook Credits

Facebook Credits is a virtual currency you can use to buy digital goods and services in your favorite games and applications on Facebook. Until recently, most people used the credits as part of Facebook games, but now many businesses are offering digital goods for sale.

In July, TV Tonight reported on how BBC was selling TV episodes via Facebook. He said:

“By using Facebook credits, users visiting the official Doctor Who page will be able to stream a selection of nine stories (each containing several episodes) from the history of the Time Lord.

Facebook credits can be purchased within an app, or through the payments tab within the users account settings and the episodes will be available to view for 48 hours.”

This is considerably cheaper than buying the DVD’s and allows new fans to sample some of the older episodes. They even offer one story that was previously unreleased.

This technology has been trickling into the offline world. In America, users are able to exchange gift cards for Facebook credits and many commentators have predicted credits can be used to purchase products in traditional retail outlets.

It doesn’t end there. Facebook credits have the potential to:

You can learn more via the Facebook Credits page

Your turn

Do you have any questions about how you can integrate these concepts into your business? What online technologies are you keeping an eye on? Let us know in the comments and we may write about them in future posts.

Photo credit : http://www.flickr.com/photos/antjeverena/

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