News that Oxygen8 is helping to build a bespoke network in Selfridges so that consumers in the store can text charity donations to the store’s Project Ocean campaign is great news for the world’s fishes, plankton, sea cucumbers and whales. It is also good news for everyone smart enough to look at how to monetize in store mobile action.
While much attention has been focused on how mobile is a tool for retailers to sell stuff via transactional mobile sites and apps, the real benefit mobile technology brings to retailers is in what it can do in store. And what retailers manage to cook up around in store mobile services is also something that other organisations that have groups of people all in one place at the same time – shopping malls, sports arenas, airports, clubs, music festivals and even schools and colleges – can also look to turn to their commercial advantage.
Mobile’s real strength lies in the ability to bring the internet to where the mobile user is. It makes the web personal, rather than just mobile and that personal touch extends to where a person is and what they are doing.
The simple examples so far have been things such as bar code scanning in stores to get more information about products and services, see videos and read reviews. There are also examples of how, at sports events, users can find out more information about players, stats about the team, purchase merchandise and so on. At music festivals, there is a growing move to sell content over the air while bands are playing – rather smashing the ‘sticking it to the man’ ethos of Glasto, but there you go, that’s progress.
The more forward thinking out there see mobile as bringing all of this and much more to the bricks and mortar commercial world (and the muddy fields of the music festival circuit). Adding the idea of augmented reality and the like to all this – so that you can add the web to the real world to enhance one’s experience of it – means that many things are possible.
Each of these things adds huge potential commercial opportunities. Directly selling things using all this tech is just the tip of the iceberg. The potential to revolutionise marketing and the whole ‘consumer journey’ is huge. And it all hinges on the idea not of the mobile web, the web or any other hyperbole doing the rounds but on the personal web.
And that is all brilliant, but…. There is always a but and here it is a big one. Networks. Mobile networks – both those run by operators and public wifi – are, to be blunt, shot to shit. They are stuffed with traffic, poorly powered and frustratingly slow if you do manage to connect. Oh and they drop out half way through doing things. In short, they aren’t fit for purpose.
This is why the Oxygen8-Selfridges network is significant: while it is all being done for “charadee, mate” it is a proving ground for building in store networks and seeing how consumers use them. Taking this technology – and the inherent investment – forward will yield a much richer in store experience that will, in short, let retailers sell more. Rolling it out at other events will increase this personal web engagement and sell more stuff – which is good for us all.
Oh, and while we wait for iCloud and marvel at the new range of Google Chrome netbooks, only this sort of investment will make this cloud idea for consumers take flight. If any of you have tried cloud computing recently you will know what I mean.