Amazon Prime gets better every day. On 31 August, it built on the existing deal, which spans free delivery, a book lending library, streamed TV and more, by bringing its Wi-Fi Dash button to British subscribers.

The genius of Dash lies in its simplicity, which effectively moves the Internet into the real world. Dash is a physical push-button tied to a single product – Oil of Olay, Whiskas cat food, Andrex and so on – and hooked up to Prime members’ home Wi-Fi networks.

Members order whichever buttons they need, depending on the brands they buy most often, and stick them wherever they’re likely to notice their existing stocks dwindling. That might be the bathroom for Olay and Andrex, and the cat food cupboard for Whiskas. A single press is sufficient to order a replenishment, which arrives the next day without them having to work their way through an online checkout.

Bad news for high-street retail? Not at all. Rather than seeing Dash as a threat, we believe it ought to inspire the high street.

The Creative Engine is all about building better retail experiences, so we have identified five opportunities for bricks and mortar outlets to go one better than Amazon. By relying on customers’ mobile phones, rather than bespoke buttons, they can emulate the friction-free shopping enabled by Dash to providing an even more compelling experience for their customers.

 

1. Window shopping with a difference

Leading smartphones now incorporate RFID, a very short range radio system that can be used to swap identifying data. Fixing compatible readers to a shop window would let busy shoppers hold their phones on the glass to directly purchase the goods on display, by tying the identifier in the phone with address and payment details already known to the retailer. A one-second tap-and-go would then be enough to complete a transaction and set up a home delivery. Travel agents could tweak the technology so that a tap would send further details of a listed holiday or special offer to the customer.

 

2. Instant replenishment

Should the shopper venture inside the store, conveniently-situated readers could greatly simplify – and speed up – a shopping trip. Tapping their phone beside a printer they already own could instruct the retailer to send them a fresh set of cartridges or, for larger items, to retrieve a smart TV from the warehouse and have it ready for collection in the loading bay. Shopping this way is far easier than noting down a list of products or struggling to the cash desk with a basket full of goods.

 

3. Virtual replenishment

Better yet, should the store run out of a particular line, technology can be used to provide virtual products on an empty shelf. So, if a supermarket sells out of premium cat food it could fix an RFID reader to the shelf, where the product would have appeared, in an effort to dissuade shoppers from switching to a cheaper brand. Once tapped by the customer, the reader would record an order and the product would be delivered to the shopper’s home. They could continue with their shopping in the knowledge that even though they couldn’t pick up everything they needed right away, the missing items would arrive the following day.

 

4. Digital wish lists

It doesn’t have to be linked to making a purchase, either, as RFID can be used to enable wish list building. Customers might choose to walk around a store tapping readers beside items, the details of which would be built into virtual wish lists. They could then compare items at their leisure and, using the accompanying buy link, complete their purchase from a coffee shop, their home, or the bus home. If the list is for a special occasion, the customer could share their wedding or birthday list with friends and family.

 

5. A showrooming solution

The convenience of RFID-based shopping might even be enough to discourage showrooming, the practice of browsing products in store but buying them online. The primary benefit of buying online is the ease with which you can do it, especially if the retailer already has your payment details or you’re checking out with PayPal. Outlets that already have customer details to hand can offer a similarly smooth process in high street stores – the one place Amazon can’t stick its Dash buttons – so their customers can skip the queues entirely, and enjoy the product right away rather than, at best, the following day.

Our retail experience experts spend all day, every day, thinking up new and innovative ways for shops to engage with their customers. Call The Creative Engine today on 01483 799 200 or email hello@creative-engine.co.uk to find out more about the latest technology, and how it can help you bring more shoppers through your doors.

Comments (2)

  1. Scott Gazzard 2016-10-17 18:21:42
    Personally I think these are all great ideas but it does seem to focus on one aspect of service, convenience. This is certainly important but so is the tactile element, the experiential element, lets not forget good old vanity and status. Good service is a subjective thing. In cases where people prefer no hassle, in-out,retail shopping RFID solutions will work brilliantly. But there are times when the human touch, or a hands on service is required and desired by the manufacturer to create brand experiences. I believe a hybrid shopping environment that combines all the convenience of online retail, with an on demand service (think 'product ambassadors') approach that takes advantage of the years of retail psychology, would be a way to truly bridge the high street and the web.'Dash' might be the start, but we'll see.
    1. thecreativeengine 2016-10-18 15:39:19
      Hi Scott Yes we totally agree and that is where we excel - making that hybrid retail experience come to life. The best of physical shopping plus the power of online data. Dash is innovative and we can already see some people hacking the buttons to carry out interesting tasks. Long may it continue. We will have some more examples of interactive retail innovation in blogs to come. Keep watching.

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