Thursday, April 14, 2005

Plausible Ponderings

I’ve been pondering the fight that will be coming up between retailers and brands once the physical world is connected. Huh? Well it won’t be long before you will be able to click on a barcode and be directed to a targeted site. The question is whose site should it be based on where you click.

This will be, in my opinion, revolutionary. It will also create access to more information than some would like.

I’m going to use an example of what I mean. I’m walking through a Barnes and Noble store and I see this great book on “Pictures Of History” priced at $45.00. I like the book but $45 seems steep. I take out my camera phone, click on the barcode, and I am taken to where the price is $39.95. I can either order right there through my phone, or wait till I get home.

Barnes and Noble lost “control” of their customer by allowing an outside application in the store. Every retailer is scared at the thought of a price comparison/outside application being allowed in their store via cell phone.

A $45 book is one thing, but imagine a $5000 Sony LCD TV in Best Buy. Think Best Buy might object to a Froogle like application in their store?

How can they stop this?

Search everyone with a camera phone before they enter the store (not likely).
Turn on a wireless jammer to stop cell calls (not likely)
Match any competitors price (not likely)

Put their own code on top of the manufacturers code (lot of labels would be required)..could be done way too costly imo.

Have some LBS (location based service) via GPS (global positioning) direct users when they click on a barcode. (very likely).. this doesn’t require ANY modification of the inventory.

Can this be done?
Can the GPS in my cell phone and my service provider determine that I am in Barnes and Noble . Does my service provider know my exact location? Can Barnes and Noble control the direction of all barcodes within the store based on the GPS location?

Could you designate a location to determine barcode owner and direction? On the reverse side. If I’m walking down a street past a McDonald’s and my coordinates are x,y,z, can McDonald’s send me an SMS coupon?

Will McDonald’s “own” a specific GPS coordinate and be able to advertise within a block of that coordinate?

Retailers still want a “closed network”. Does A GPS/LBS application allow it?

Will GPS/LBS be not only a defensive marketing application but a proactive one as well?
Wouldn't every search engine want this info to deliver accurate/relevant results?

Is this a cookie on steroids?

Say I’m entering my local mall, will a Macy’s know this and be able to send an SMS coupon to me? Will Macy’s have to pay the service provider for this info, or a special application?

Another variable in mobile marketing is eliminated with this.
If I got your permission to market to you on your phone, not only can I reach immediately, but I can also advertise to you based on your location.

Is there an application out there that can do this?

My thoughts, would love comments, input.


Anonymous said...

Lots of interaction and possibilities here. GPS based mobile marketing is a good one. McDonalds could "own" a specific geographic area around the store or an "active marketing cell" area where with permission based marketing you come within the said area and the GPS would pick it up and give you a $1.00 coupon off for a big mac meal.

Would there be a new bidding war to own a particular geographic area equivalent as owning a URL address or tradename? That would be really interesting.


Kevin Wells said...

Interesting thoughts from the primate as always....

First off, the bookstore example always puts me off---there are so many other things sold at retail that you simply wont care about enough to have shipped to you (remember those internet companies that would gladly Fed Ex you a 50 lb bag of dog food?)

So, I'm not going to buy my cereal and dog food from the internet. And chances are, I'm not going to buy some amazingly fragile $12,000 hi def tv that way either. I'll go to a reputable dealer and do my research and then price shop--this is not an impulse purchase we're talking about

Now lets talk barcodes. (full disclosure, I work for a company that does visual recognition in camera phones WITHOUT requiring barcodes or watermarking)

Barcodes are FREQUENTLY put on price tags by the retailer that are not standard UPC issued codes. In other words, the barcode on the price sticker at B&N on a book may very well be issued by B&N as a proprietary number used only in their database. This alone would put a big dent in the "see it here, price it at Amazon" concept. Unless you simply recognized the book cover, and then you are still able to price shop (see full disclosure above)

In terms of a retailer/carrier/GPS/LBS unholy alliance---well, don't hold your breath. There are laws on top of regulations on top of policies that will prevent this from ever happening most likely. Its possible but not probable IMHO.

Clara said...

Just thought I'd point out something else that could be detrimental to the retailer in question - what about location-based digital graffiti? Say I'm standing outside a restaurant, and someone has left a digital post-it note saying that the service inside is terrible. Would I still go in, having read that review?

Of course that opens up a whole different can of worms, like a competitor coming along to post a fake negative review, but I guess you can have systems giving the retailer a chance to respond/explain?

More simplistically applied to a book & not even in a context-aware setting, when you read reviews, if they're mostly bad, that'd probably put you off buying it... I guess in the restaurant case, if the restaurant is genuinely good, they'd have mostly good reviews anyway...

Er sorry got a bit off-track there! Anyway, re: LBS - I think once you (the mobile user) are in a relationship with a particular store/brand/firm, then nobody else (especially a competitor) should be able to interfere with that relationship, just because you happen to be in a particular place. Does that make sense? The power to start/modify/terminate the relationship should always reside with the buyer. If it resided with a competitor, well... I'd hope that would be illegal!

I love reading your posts, by the way - keep it up! =)

Raanan said...

Personally, I don't think they (Barnes and Noble in this example) will give a damn. Will you really want to wait for a book to be delivered by Amazon in X days for 5$? About comodities that have a higher price tag, do you really buy them without checking the price at home over the internet?
About GPS ads, just one more SPAM pipeline. Probably will need you to agree to receive it. If the price of my mobile phone usage will drop, I might consider accepting it (why should my carrier get all the money?).