Here’s what caught my attention in the commerce space this week.
Retailers embrace mobiles for Black Friday
Do you still try to be sneaky when comparison shopping on your smartphone in retail stores? Are you afraid the manager will take offense and ask you to leave? I think this shyness is rooted in a past wherein retailers controlled the information that flowed to customers in their stores so that they weren’t competing with any other retail outlets, let alone Amazon and every other online retailer. Like casino owners who banned clocks and hid exit signs, the retailers used to keep us in their bubbles with their marked-up prices.
That time is long past. As Peter Lurie, American Express’ senior vice president of enterprise growth said at a mobile payments conference in New York in September, ” ‘Are you online?’ is no longer a meaningful question.” According to Deloitte’s 2011 Annual Holiday Survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers, of the 42% that owned a smartphone, 27% said they will use it for holiday shopping. Some other interesting findings by Deloitte:
- Consumers expect 1/3 of their shopping to be online this year.
- 51% said they will go online to find the best price — up 10% from just a year ago.
- Convenience is the top draw for online shopping (73%), followed by better prices (68%).
- 47% said they have purchased in a store after researching online.
- 39% said they purchased online after researching at a store.
With so many users doing their product research and comparison shopping online, some brick-and-mortar retailers have stopped fighting it and are instead embracing it. Nordstrom boasts free Wi-Fi access at its stores, and other large retailers, including Target, Best Buy, and Macy’s, are promoting their affiliations with Shopkick, which combines check-ins with coupons. And even if retailers have modest expectations for this year’s Black Friday, there are a handful of apps aimed at helping shoppers find the best deals in their areas.
While the term “Black Friday” has been gaining traction for decades, it was joined a few years ago by “Cyber Monday,” the day when shoppers who had spent their weekends trudging through stores settled in at the high-speed connections at work to find better prices on the items they skipped in the stores. Now, add to the lexicon “Sofa Sunday,” the tablet-enabled phenomenon of crashing on the couch after a day or two of heavy shopping to peruse store catalogs. So suggests Joaquín Ruiz, co-founder and CEO of shopping app maker Padopolis in an interview with AllThingsD’s Tricia Duryee: “After you are exhausted with your Black Friday experience, you’ll relax and regroup on Sofa Sunday.”
And on the seventh day, the shoppers rested (a little).
Developers chasing Fire
As Android’s market share continues to climb — topping 50% of the global smartphone market according to Gartner — so too does developer interest in the platform. This week’s release of Amazon’s Kindle Fire has sharpened that interest. Appcelerator’s Q4 survey of mobile developers found that Kindle Fire is tops in interest among Android developers in the U.S. and second (behind Samsung’s Galaxy Tab) worldwide.
Square adds loyalty program to Card Case
The latest update to Square includes a few features designed to make it behave even more like a real cash register, along with something else: the promising of ditching those paper punch cards. In addition to adding integration with hardware peripherals (a merchant can tap an iPad screen to open a cash drawer or print a receipt), this new upgrade adds the ability to design and run loyalty programs. Merchants decide what constitutes loyalty — number of visits, frequency, amount purchased — and what rewards or discounts are given. Once earned, the awards are automatically delivered when the customer pays with Card Case, the app for the consumer side of Square’s transactions.
The video embedded below shows some of the features. The hardware integration and loyalty-program interface are nice, but perhaps even cooler is the wooden stand that the iPad slips into to make it a register. It’s beautiful when disruption comes with a graceful design.
News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.
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