I hope that everyone of my wonderful Survive 55 followers had a wonderful Christmas and are now completely finished with all of your shopping urges for another year.
It was a great holiday shopping season for me. I did most of my shopping online and only had to visit a few stores for inspiration and the ever popular people watching.
There is no doubt, after closely studying the general population in the past 4 to 5 weeks, that Christmas shopping is no longer treated as a pleasurable experience, one in which you enjoy a leisurely trip to the mall in a romantic search for the perfect gifts chosen with the utmost in love from your heart for the perfect people in your lives.
It's warfare folks......it's a battle and it is serious and don't even think of getting in the way of a determined Christmas shopper.
Although I wasn't lucky enough to see any bloodshed or mutilations, there was plenty of verbal and emotional abuse flying around among the beautifully decorated stores.
I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a few Christmas "bird" flips from being careful with my driving. I also received an abundance of evil stares, a medley of passing cynical remarks and an assortment of close calls and brushes with physical reprisal for following proper walking protocol and for having a peaceful demeanor during my shopping trips.
Is it just me or has "walking to the right" become another common sense behavior that has been long forgotten?
I am thankful that it still holds as a driving law, but it really doesn't hold true in a crowded shopping mall during peak Christmas shopping hours.
Believe it or not there is and it's the retailers themselves that are doing exciting things to make our shopping experiences......well.....experiences !!!
There is a company called Springwise, that has a network of over 15,000 "spotters" worldwide who research fascinating and innovative new business ideas.
They discovered several companies that have initiated innovative ways to make the shopping experience more enjoyable.
How, you might ask?
Well, I was amazed to discover how retailers are creating new ways to take the stress out of shopping be it through speeding up payments and helping customers skip the long lines, providing uniquely quiet and relaxed retail environments, or adding a sporting twist to shopping by enabling customers to pay with points earned from exercising.
As we all know, there are plenty of factors that make shopping an unpleasant experience. I bet you'll agree with me that any effort to counteract these will always be appreciated.
So, are there really ways that retailers are trying to make our shopping experiences more pleasant?
Believe it or not, there are and there is a whole school of retail innovation that is focused solely on making shoppers feel better about spending their money. These innovations have taken place at the heart of the products or shopping experience, and, as a result, have transformed our shopping experiences into a genuinely useful ones.
This sense that these innovations are serving a real purpose — be it enabling customers to see how popular clothes are on Facebook for social validation, or involving the customer in the selection of what products are available in-store — creates a unique retail experience, engaging the customer in a way they are not likely to forget.
Check out my 5 favorite ways retailers are bringing the shopping experience into the next century.
Shopping can be, in the least, a trial for most people, and it’s a widely held belief that many men can find it more of a chore than women.
Aiming to improve the experience for men (and women as well), there is a tech company called Hointer that offers retailers a collection of retail technology solutions that simplify the "emotional" experience of shopping for clothes.
One such innovation is a process by which QR codes are added to items like jeans so that customers can simply scan the code in order to get their desired style and size delivered to a changing room ready for them to try on.
How cool is that?
For those that aren't familiar with the QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) it is the strange (like it came from outer space) looking box that is an optical machine-readable label that is attached to an item that records information related to that item.
By applying updated informational grabbing technology to the QR code, Hointer has developed a streamlined process that saves customers from having to wade through piles of clothing to find their size, ultimately speeding up a shopping trip for those who would rather be elsewhere.
What could be easier and more time saving than finding a style of jeans or a shirt that you really like, scanning a display code which asks about your vital size information in a couple of quick click-thru questions and then walking over to a dressing room all ready for you with your desired size to try on?
I've seen apps that reward their users with motivational phrases when they exercise and even post your progress on Facebook like "MapMyRun."
However, Nike Mexico took this a step further with their Facebook auction, "Subasta de Kilometros", which allowed runners to accrue points for every kilometer run and then use these points to bid on Nike-branded running gear in the auction.
Through this app Nike Mexico cleverly provides an extra incentive for runners to keep fit, while, at the same time, promoting their products.
The convenience of popping to the shops for a few grocery items is always hampered by the threat of long lines.
After standing in numerous lines at a busy grocery store just to buy a single pumpkin pie, CEO Aaron Roberts decided there had to be a way to improve the overall shopping experience.
"QThru", a mobile app allowing shoppers to not only check out directly from their phones, but allowing shoppers to browse, scan and buy products all through their phone.
Don't want to carry your groceries home, then check out "SoPost" which uses customer’s email addresses to deliver purchases, rather than the traditional home or work address.
An interesting idea that reflects the increasingly mobile lives we all lead.
Facing the overwhelming onslaught of product displays, visual noise and many times (subliminal) background advertising, roaming stores looking for the perfect gift can be a frightful experience, particularly at busy times such as seasonal sales or the lead-up to Christmas.
Nowhere is a retailer and their staff more aware of the stress involved in shopping than at "Selfridges", a huge UK department store, and they decided to lessen the burden for customers by introducing the "No Noise" campaign.
Specifically, when customers entered designated silent areas they had to remove their shoes and hand over their phones.
All products in these zones were de-branded (how unique is that) to reduce stress in the purchase decision making process.
Concern for customers will rarely go unappreciated, and "Selfridges" may well have earned themselves a few lifelong customers with this campaign.
Retail floor personnel dread the words “Have you got any more of…?” knowing it often means a frantic search through the maze of inventory in the back room to see if an item is available in a particular size or color.
But a Brazilian company "Memove’s" "RFID" stock tracking technology could relegate such headaches to the past thanks to tags stitched into the clothing that monitor all items from manufacturing to the moment the customer walks out of the shop with the purchased product.
Keeping track of the stock supply chain can be made much simpler through the use of technology, and Memove provides a fine example.
Now, for instance, a consumer can ask the store helpers to locate their favorite size or color blouse and they are greeted with a quick computer search that lets them know if another store has the inventory they are looking for, or whether it is in transit to be delivered to a particular location of even if the item has just left the manufacturing plant.
Whether they enable customers to use social validation to see how popular clothes are on Facebook or involving the customer in the selection of what products are available in-store, they are creating a unique retail experience, engaging the customer in a way they are not likely to forget.
Just like everyone else, my impression of the use of technology in the retail industry has always been viewed as negative and intrusive.
It seems like retailers are always screaming at you trying to convince you that they have the best deals while constantly asking you for more personal information to help them "market" to you.
Retailers don't use this information to "market" to you, they use it to dig deeper into your wallets.
It appears that retailers are finally catching on to the fact that people are not going to visit their stores unless they feel comfortable shopping.
There’s lessons and inspiration here for innovators in every industry.
What do you think?
Is it time to break out the wallets, head to the mall and have some fun?
It's easy to tell them about it.
Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.
The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!
Thanks for joining me..........................................................