Smart Phones and Commercial Real Estate

Check out this article by Elaine Misonzhnik of Retail Traffic about how consumers can leverage smart phones while out shopping. Very interesting. Personally, I do a terrible job of using my smart phone but I am smart enough to know that this kind of leveraging is the wave of the future and will only increase. So sayeth Steve Jobs.

Initially, I thought the news was going to be all bad for retailers, with examples of consumers standing in store aisles but ordering merchandise on-line. However, while on-line sales are undoubtedly a clear and present danger to store sales, I soon realized that the news is not all bad for a couple of reasons: 

First, for the most part, in order to leverage the applications discussed in the article, the consumer has to already be at or near the store, which is half the battle for retailers.  (I bet most successful retailers like their chances once people come through the door.)

Second, at least so far, it looks like consumers are using the smart phone applications primarily to help with comparison shopping on "big ticket" items.

Third, and perhaps most important, savvy retailers can embrace the technology and leverage it themselves. For example, as noted in the article, a retailer who provides data for use in the ShopSavvy application by Big in Japan gets an opportunity to lure shoppers with sales and can purchase different add-on services to provide it with a competitive advantage.

I agree with the sentiment expressed by Alexander Muse of Big in Japan: smart phones and the Internet are here to stay and have changed the rules of engagement for retailers.  The sooner that retailers take advantage of the new rules, the better.

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