ENTERPIRSE VENDOR IBM has announced a mobile augmented reality app so that shoppers can scan store shelves with mobile devices and receive personalised product information and coupons while they browse store aisles.
The app is not available to download just yet and is still being developed by the IBM Research lab in Haifa, Israel. According to Big Blue, it "addresses the fundamental gap between the wealth of readily available product details on the Web that in-store shoppers don't have access to, despite the fact that in-store shopping accounts for more than 92 per cent of the retail volume".
It works when customers register a personalised profile in the app before entering the store. Their profiles will include vital personal information such as allergies to specific ingredients and preferences such as whether packaging is recyclable or not.
Once shoppers have commenced their supermarket hunt for buy-one-get-one-free items and discounted bread, they can point their device's video camera towards the shelves and the app will recognise merchandise via the augmented reality technology. Digital details will overlay the images displaying information such as ingredients, price, reviews and discounts that apply that day.
"Using IBM's prototype app, a shopper looking for breakfast cereal could specify they want a brand low in sugar, highly rated by consumers - and on sale," IBM said in a statement. "As the shopper pans the mobile device's camera across a shelf of cereal boxes, the augmented shopping app will reveal which cereals meet the criteria and also provides a same-day coupon to entice consumers to make a purchase."
Customers can also choose to link the app to their social network web pages so that if a friend has already reviewed or made a comment about a product the customer is looking at, for example, they will be notified about it.
IBM said the app isn't just intended to help customers but will also "serve as a natural platform" for retailers, helping them to interact with customers at the point when purchasing decisions are made.
"Aside from the ability to suggest up-sell and cross-sell offers in the store itself, retailers will have the opportunity to gain invaluable insight that can help optimize floor plans and product arrangements in their stores," IBM added.
"By closing the gap between the online and in-store shopping experience, marketers can appeal to the individual needs of consumers and keep them coming back."
According to IBM, both shoppers and retailers can expect the app to improve customer loyalty through tailored personalisations. However, for it to work well, we think that IBM will have to focus on the app's development so that it will be quick to launch, simple to use and responsive enough to retain shoppers' interest. µ
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