A quick thought on using a mobile phone’s GPS in a novel fashion for an online retailer. Nowadays basically every mobile phone has a gps chip in it, and all smart phones can provide location data to the apps they run. Recently I was asked by a client about ideas for possibly reaching out to customers on a local level, despite the fact that the client doesn’t actually have any physical stores. Here are my initial thoughts –
Example Company is an online-only retailer with no brick and mortar stores. Because of this, it’s difficult to give users the ability to really truly interact with the merchandise before buying it – no traditional “try it on” shopping experience with online retail. However, because Example Company is online, they can often times offer very competitive pricing on the latest styles.
Using Geo-Location and a mobile application, Example Company could allow users to shop online and add products they’re interested in to an online wish list, and then, based on their location, get a list of nearby brick-and-mortar stores which currently stock the products they’re interested in. Users would then visit the brick-and-mortar store to try on the products, and when they’re ready to buy, since they already have the mobile app in their hand, click to buy. Since it’s unlikely that brick-and-mortar stores could compete with Example Company’s competitive pricing and vast product selection, I believe there would still be incentive for users to continue to use Example Company, instead of simply buying in-store immediately after making the purchase decision.
Another option could be for Example Company to strike deals with local stores to sell in-stock items that appear on Example Company at Example Company prices, and have some sort of rev-share agreement. This would allow users to still shop online, but then have the option of trying on in-store, and getting the product on the spot.
Here’s another spin on this idea, from Scott Dunlap of NearbyNow Inc.