It is not quite the night before Christmas, I am standing in one of the big barn electrical stores and I have in my hand a piece of paper. It’s a list. But, not any list, the handwriting is a little crude and in the very deliberate hand of my youngest daughter it is addressed for the attention of Mr S Claus. I may not be the jolly red fellow, but I have been entrusted to deliver.
As I look down the list, my daughter’s fervent wish is that she is delivered a ‘Wappy Puppy’. Through sketchy knowledge of the world of my daughters and a little eavesdropping I believe it is a game for the Nintendo DS. Hence I find myself staring at a crumpled piece of paper in the Nintendo aisle of this vast electrical emporium.
As a fairly tech savvy chap, who enjoys a gadget and a video game – I think I know my way around an electrical store. Big as this one maybe, I can normally deftly navigate my way around and I scan the game shelves, here we go… W… Wappy…. Nope.
Ok, so it’s just before Christmas and the shelves are a little dishevelled, I excuse myself around an equally confused looking father and zero in on the P for Puppy.. nope… between the boy trying to negotiate his mother up from one game to two… ‘Latest Games’… nope… another quick swerve… ‘Most Popular’… Nada.
Take a step back, deep breath and circle again. Nope.
A text message from my wife confirms I am looking for W.A.P.P.Y puppy (as in dog).
At this point I would like to claim I took the desperate measure (for me anyway) and actually asked someone for direction – but the truth is that a kindly store assistant recognized a man down in the field of retail battle and above the pre-Holiday bedlam asked me if I needed some help.
Sadly, my rescuer also had not heard of the Wappy Puppy game and having attempted the same desperate search I had done moments earlier, came up empty handed. The problem here was that neither of us were 7 year old girls, or had been paying attention to the same commercials and the more I confirmed it was ‘Wappy’ the more ridiculous it sounded.
So I reached into my pocket for my smart phone.
I Googled this mythical Wappy Puppy beast.
I saw a picture of my prey.
And a moment of clarity appeared on the face of my hunting cohort, now locked into this mission.
It’s not a game. Well it is. But it comes with a robot puppy and because of its size it’s not where we were looking in the uniform racks of DS games.
Our thrashing around in this sea of shopping chaos was over, we went straight to the little critters, the last two in the store (I have two daughters) and Christmas was saved.
Why did I share this heart warming message of holiday retail and fatherly ineptitude?
Well the true hero of this piece is my smart phone and the content it gave me access to.
Mobile plays an increasingly critical role in our retail experience. In this case seeing a picture of the product and being reassured that the store sold them, clinched a little bit of revenue for this business.
I could have shared a number of personal stories where this has been true, where a quick look on my phone has confirmed an in-store sale. One day it was an exact laptop specification when my father was ready to make a purchase and just last week it was my sister-in-law buying a new camera lens.
What do you do?
Talk to a bored looking teenage store assistant, who’s inexperience will probably mean the response to your question will be a blank look, or a vague “I think so, I’ll.. umm ask..”
Or do you reach into your pocket for that shiny portal into a world of information and others experiences of exactly this product?
When we are making big decisions, we research, we Google. There is nothing new in that, data from Google notes that 71 percent of smartphone users use their mobile phones to search for more information on a product seen on TV or in magazines and newspapers.
But with mobile – we can all do it in-store at the point of sale.
Therefore, how a business or a product represents itself on-line on mobile devices is now a business imperative, how a business offers this information and how they use tools that recognize location (that you are in-store) is going to change the way we shop.
It certainly changed my daughters Christmas.