A RETAIL REFRESH
With summer comes unbearable heat. In winter, there’s lots of snow and slush. It’s the transitional seasons that are a bit trickier to spot in the city. As a result, urbanites have become conditioned to look elsewhere for seasonal markers, specifically in the retail realm. Like at the first hint of spring, when pop-up stores move from indoors to the sidewalks and parks. Or samplers are out and about seeking potential shoppers for their products. Even underground, subway fashion posters shed their winter layers in exchange for the hottest spring looks.
Technology, too, marches on to the beat of each season. With a constant stream of innovations, retailers have opportunities to target, disrupt, and connect with spring shoppers like never before. Which, of course, always keeps the Urbanist on its toes.
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Shopping Has Two Branded New Bags
The smartphone has been a game changer when it comes to comparison shopping in the brick-and-mortar realm. With a few swipes and a bit of surfing, you can check the best price for cat litter in a handful of seconds. Now Amazon wants to cut that time down even more with the latest version of their Flow app. The older version allowed users to get an Amazon price by two methods. You could scan the product barcode or snap a pic of the product and wait to see if the Amazon database recognized your image. Both proved to be a bit cumbersome and only allowed you to search books, DVDs, CDs, or video games. Amazon’s new version takes picture recognition to the next level. The app uses the smartphone camera in such a way that all you need to do is focus on the product and the price instantly pops up. From there you can click on the product to purchase it on the spot. It also saves scans for you to buy later. Amazon has also increased the breadth of brands to include food and household products. With the ease of use of the app and an ever-expanding database, Amazon is able to further establish itself in the mobile arena and transform comparison shopping into a purchase opportunity.
Google Finally Goes Offline
Following in the footsteps of Apple, Google is now throwing its hat in the urban retail ring. The search engine giant will be setting up shop in the neighborhood of SOHO in NYC. Crain’s New York reports the G-store will be 8,000 square feet and located at 131 Greene St.
“‘This could do for cobblestone Greene Street what the Apple store did for Prince,” said Richard Hodos, a retail leasing broker at CBRE. A move like this will offer Google a more intimate connection with shoppers, which is optimal when launching new products like Google Glass as well as building loyalists for the Chromebook series.
Digital Ads Capturing Commuters
Other than the type of coffee in their cups and the books on their tablets, commuters pretty much experience the usual scene day in and day out. Now, advertisers are hoping this sea of sameness will be the catalyst to capture commuter views with their ever-changing digital billboards. Ads change based not only on time, but also react to the scenery. British Airways has an ad that changes every time an aircraft flies by. Apoteket Hair Products are also treating Stockholm train commuters to this new techno-entertainment as well. Each time a train arrives in the station, a digital billboard image cuts to a clip of a woman trying to deal with a sudden gust of wind. Advertisers are looking for this daily entertainment to help keep their brands top-of-mind and translate into potential rings at the register.
For more urban trends & insights, check out next month’s issue.
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