Getting in tune with new retailing

We all need to understand the speed with which digital communication is altering the way we use the city and its functions and be concerned that the shrinking world where we experience each other is becoming more and more mediated by thin media and while I agree that outdated laws and  rules with regards to cameras etc are archaic and out of touch, I cannot but help think this poor fellows life is impoverished by his choices to say at home! By: Lee Radmall on

“My wife recently got ejected from a retail store and even threatened with legal action. No, my wife is not a shoplifter or a retail espionage agent, she is a just a modern woman shopping for her family in the digital age. Now I understand that the security staff and store management are executing an executive mandate but what is more worrying is that the retail chains themselves are not seeing the overriding change in how consumers are shopping.

Traditionally it has been a rule that you cannot take pictures within retail environments. Goodness knows why, anything at retail is already part of public domain and if a competitor wanted to copy something, it already exists. Obviously you have the ‘me too’ competitors but good companies are more concerned with moving onward than protecting generic parts of their customer offering that are easy to duplicate and offer no real differentiation.

I understand that the security staff and store management were executing an executive mandate but what is worrying is that the retail chains themselves are not seeing the overriding change in how consumers are shopping.

I am not sure how things work in your household but in mine, my wife is the designated shopping specialist. She buys clothes for her, my baby boy and me. For me, shopping for clothes is a distraction from more important pursuits such as watching Discovery in HD or putting in several hours into the hottest PlayStation game. My simple solution to shopping for clothes while not actually being there is for the designated shopper to take pics on his or her Blackberry and send these through BBM. The digital conversation usually goes something like this:

Wife: Hey I found this t-shirt. What do you think?
Me: Err…looks cool not so sure about the floral print.
Wife: How about this one? Has that nice collar that you like.
Me: Do they have a belt that works with that?
Wife: Check out these options
Me: Option 2 looks nice but buy all three. You can never have enough belts.

Viral marketing at its best

This is not just a sample of one; this is how consumers are shopping now. If it is not a wife for her husband, it is a bunch of girlfriends sharing and swopping shopping advice. One of the most amazing things about this trend is that two friends do not even have to be in the same country to give each other real time fashion advice.

Now if I were a forward thinking retailer, I would be finding the best way to encourage my consumers to take good pics within my store or even better, find a way to encourage consumers to send their product pics to as many friends as possible. This is viral marketing at its best and it is free.

Therefore, my advice to retailers is embrace the change and the next time one of your customers walks around your store snapping fashion pics, put away the handcuffs and train your staff to offer to model the garments while your consumers take their snapshots.

Every top company in the world has a digital presence and is using this as a powerful interface to talk to their consumers and encourage open debate through blogs and Twitter – why not include actual customers on the floor?”

This is not all we are doing with our phones while shopping – here are some more things we like doing:

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