The Battle for the Internet of Things, and the Winner is…

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Nest_Diamond_ThermostatThere are a lot of amazing technologies and devices being brought to market these days. We’ve all seen them — Bluetooth capable health monitors, the Nest thermostat, fitness devices — and the number is going to continue to grow. Underlying all these devices is a technological battlefield where companies are trying figure out the best way to work with and encourage the app building in the developer community.

Apple and Google have huge developer camps writing thousands of new apps each week using their tools and technology. Both of these companies have well-rounded software Development Kits (SDK) and each technology is capable of being used to build apps with similar capabilities. However, I think one company has the advantage here, not because of the technology, but because of the way they think about the market, and that company is… Continue reading

7 Ways Apple’s M7 Chip Can Improve Customer Experience

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Indoor Positioning SystemA little over a month ago, iOS 8 was released in beta to developers, and one of its key features are enhancements to geolocation capabilities. In particular, iOS 8 will take advantage of the M7 processor in the iPhone 5 and allow developers to take advantage of indoor positioning systems (IPS) that offer great accuracy of information when indoors.

I’ll spare you the exciting technical things, which are really cool, but I’m sure most folks will wonder what this means for eCommerce and Retailers. Here are just a few possibilities:

  • I’ve written previously about OmniChannel / MultiChannel and the necessity of offering shoppers a great user experience while in-store. The M7 offers even more location accuracy so a shopper trying to locate items in a typical location could be redirected to alternate locations within the store such as an end cap.
  • Shoppers could be directed to in-store flash sale items that are offered at a special price only temporarily. Think “blue light special” on steroids.
  • Imagine a mobile app that can not only direct a shopper to the closest store, but directly to the item within the store. Perhaps I’m the stereotypical male shopper, but the thought of being able to go directly to what I want to buy, pick it up, check out, and leave…well, it makes me feel happy inside.
  • Stores could add directions to the customer service counter and even to the nearest employee — a little odd sounding, but bear with me here. I’m sure others have been in a big box store or a large home improvement center, for example, and sometimes it’s difficult to find someone to help you. Imagine starting the store’s app and being able to locate the nearest employee, or even request help directly from your mobile device and that help comes directly to you.
  • Looking for an item that requires a customer service rep to help you? That locked item or a heavy appliance that requires in-store assistance? Key it into the app and a customer service rep will know where you are and can bring the item to you.
  • Stores could run interesting promotions with mystery sales. Mobile app users could receive a push notification that a mystery sale is being held during a stores slower hours, dinner time perhaps, and shoppers have to come into proximity of the item on sale to get the deal. Sure, shoppers would tweet about the item on sale, but that’s a bonus. Having more shoppers in the store during slow times would be a boon for business.
  • To build on the above idea, anyone that finds the sale items to be out of stock could be sent a coupon to order the item online. I’m on my soap box here, but don’t try to charge customers shipping for the item when they’ve already made the trek to your physical store.

Taking a peek into the iOS 8 SDK shows there are a number of exciting things planned for the near future. Retailers have a great opportunity to be creative and harness these capabilities to drive customer engagement (and sales) to new levels!

Is Amazon Primed to Conquer Angie’s List? Three challenges facing Amazon in the local services market

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Amazon vs Angies ListSo you want a good recommendation for a local service provider to paint your house, remodel your kitchen, or tutor your kids. Chances are, you are turning to local service recommendation sites, such as Angie’s List and Thumbtack, to research and hire the best service provider available in your region. The response to these sites has been tremendous. More than 2 million households check Angie’s List before they hire.

Well, Amazon has taken notice. And they want in. In fact, efforts to enter this marketplace and obtain yet more consumer wallet-share are already underway at the behemoth.

There are many local service provider companies out there, each with a slightly different theory on how to best match consumers with providers. Angie’s List provides its paid subscribers with access to service provider and business reviews from real customers. Users can then select and book a local business, and even settle any complaints should a problem Continue reading

The Internet of Things or The Invasion of Things?

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interconnected

I recently read an article about a Google filing with the SEC that describes how Google sees the future of advertising when it comes to many devices.  When reading through the filing, I found this gem: “users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future.” While Google is probably doing the right thing to expand their business and their opportunity for revenue, I started to think about life when ads appear on, and again I’ll quote, “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.”  I don’t know about you, but this IoT thing sounds like it could be more of an Invasion of Things rather than an Internet of Things.

While it’s true that you don’t have to purchase internet enabled devices or “things” that could connect with external entities to enable ads, it’s also true you could Continue reading