Do you remember when shopping meant spending hours wandering around crowded stores to pick out the week’s necessities? Well the Internet changed all that by offering almost unlimited choice at the touch of a mouse button. We may still shop, but we’re now better informed and less inclined to accept retail prices at face value unless we have done an online comparison first.
The trouble is that comparison shopping has typically meant using a PC of some sort, which is rather cumbersome if you want to get things done on the spur of the moment. Apps from online retailers like Amazon have been a help, but they’re limited to one store, and so your comparison can still be skewed. But there are signs that the consumer is about to gain another weapon in the war against rising prices…their smartphone as a cashback coupon generator.
The new Shopitize app is an iPhone and Android service which lets you scan a barcode, photograph your receipt and instantly claim cashback offers on any compatible products. The app goes one huge step beyond merely delivering a list of store offers by letting the consumer decide what to buy and claim back all in one go. A coupon can be redeemed in seconds, and payment can be obtained instantly via Paypal or check accounts. More redemption options will be offered soon.
Now the key thing is not the digital couponing as such, but more the fact that the product makers and the shoppers are engaging in a direct dialogue which bypasses the retailer almost completely. The offers at the moment are limited almost entirely to groceries for which coupons are a stable component of the marketing cycle, it’s inevitable that once this form of direct to consumer marketing takes off, more products genres will come on board.
The most powerful part of the whole process is the fact that it’s digitizing the holy grail of marketing, the market basket analysis. If the marketeers can work out specifically what our buying habits are, then they can custom tailor their offers to us on a continual basis, beaming specific coupons every day, at the time when we most likely will use them. This could be the single most revolutionary development in retailing since the credit card.
Whether this scares or excites you depends on which side of the privacy fence you stand. On one side it is inevitably going to lead to a more intrusive overview of our habits and behaviors, but on the other side we could see a golden age where marketing actually enhances our lives by beaming highly relevant and targeted adverts to us in a timely manner. A brand that learns how quickly I use my toothpaste and beams me a great offer the week I run out is my friend, not my enemy.
For now though, we’re at the early stages of the technology, and while services like Groupon have shown there’s definitely a demand for more targeted discounts and offers, there’s still a long way to go before we’ll see individually tailored specials winging their way to our phones as a matter of course. In the meantime, this new Shopitize service should send a clear signal to all the retailers of the world that times are changing and the winners will be those that realize this and jump on board before the train leaves the station.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin.