Five Checkpoints for Next-Generation Wireless Retail Places
The retail industry is rapidly transforming; take for example, the almost overnight disappearance of bookstores and video rental stores. In-store wireless retailers have yet to join the “brick-and-mortar” graveyard in part because people still like to test out smartphones and mobile devices and because the market, while slowing down, has not reached maturity.
By the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will surpass the number of people on Earth and by 2016, there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita. (Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2011–2016)
But wireless retailers should not get too comfortable. The market will soon realize that it does not need to make a trip to a store to get the gadgets it wants. Most of the dirty work can be done online, while the devices can be felt and tried at Apple or Best Buy (see “showrooming”). Heck, some supermarkets now even have mobile departments.
There’s a light at the end of this tunnel for retailers. Consumers still need the whole brick-and-mortar experience, an experience provided by the retail ecosystem: inspiration, relationship, advice, education and community. (see “omnichannel”).