The Future of Offers Delivered at Retail

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Here’s a link to a compelling post about the concept of “Proximity Marketing” It is all about the capability for in-store, real time delivery of personalized offers. The premise is that a person with a cell phone walking in an aisle of a store can have a personalized offer show up on their phone right as they are passing by a specific product or brand or display.

With a nod to the film “Minority Report” — where display ads talk to passers-by, by name — the technology is now here to deliver offers and personalized messages directly to an individual’s cell phone as they shop. The Toronto-based digital signage company iSign has this technology installed in 1300 Canadian stores.

Here is how the author Steve Smith describes the capability: “Every cell phone entering a retail venue is not only a consumer research tool but also an ad platform. It is also a personal repository of data, a kind of portable cookie, that consumers could bring into physical stores to signal their preferences and trigger custom signage.”

Smith speaks of using “the Bluetooth channel” where phones “talk” directly to a piece of digital signage and can download images, videos, coupons or apps.  While this is happening, every interaction is delivering data back to the retailer.

The upside?

This could be the most powerful capability invented to date to drive immediate purchase behavior. For instance, if you want to compel someone new to your brand to purchase, you can deliver a high value offer constructed so you know they’ll respond.

The challenge?

You’ll need to have a deep understanding of how to create just the right kind of offer — for the right kind of person — at just the right time in the purchase cycle. The data collection/processing and the marketing sophistication needed to use this capability will be enormous.

The wild card?

Will consumers be amendable to having this kind of intrusive sales messaging delivered to their very personal communications device? Will opt-in and permission tactics be employed to keep this practice “above board”? The privacy concerns are major.

The bottom line?

This is a technology to keep an eye on if you are involved in using offers to  motivate retail shoppers to increase their purchasing.


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