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The return of local retail?

Local retail revival won't hinge on online-style consumer data intrusion; it will require getting back to basics.

About a month ago, IBM published its five tech predictions for the next few years. They’re mostly the sort of unexceptional things one predicts in this sort of article — except for one: the return of local retail.

This is a fascinating idea, both in the ways I agree and the ways I disagree. First, I don’t think local retail is quite as dead as many people thought. Now that Borders is no longer with us and Barnes and Noble is on the ropes, I see more activity in local bookstores. And the shopping district in the center of my town is full; granted, we’re talking reasonably prosperous suburbia, not Detroit, but not too many years ago there was no shortage of empty storefronts.

What surprised me was the reason IBM thought local retail would return. They observed that many of the same techniques that Amazon and other online retailers use can be applied locally. You walk into a store; you’re identified by your cell phone (or some other device); the store can look up your purchase history, online history, etc.; it can then generate purchase recommendations based on inventory; and send over a salesperson — with an informed view of who you are, what you’re likely to buy, and so on — to “help” you. Read more…

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What is smart disclosure?

"Choice engines" are helping consumers make smarter decisions through personal and government data.

Smart disclosure is when a company or government agency provides consumers with periodic access to personal data in an open format. Citizens can put their own data assets to work in making better choices about finance, healthcare, travel, energy, education, real estate and more.

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