Although a majority of actual transactions are still being conducted in-store, retailers are attempting to unleash the powers of technology to get you to shop more. Nowadays, (almost) every retailer has its own app. All you need to do is visit your phone’s app store and hit download and you’re in business.
Retailer apps are designed to enhance your shopping experience. They can include features such as being able to browse products, access coupons, make purchases, and sign up for loyalty programs. Many retailers have integrated payment options such as Apple Pay as well.
Target’s mobile app contains their weekly flyer, sends you notifications for flash sales, allows you to make a shopping list, and has a barcode scanner so you can easily access details for any product. The Walgreens app will allow you to refill your prescriptions with a tap of the finger. And Bed Bath & Beyond’s app features augmented reality, or AR, technology that gives you the ability to get a 360-degree view of their items.
The features vary from app to app, but what they all have in common is the goal to increase the amount of time, and the amount of money, you spend in a store. So how do they do this?
Augmented Reality AR is a process where technology superimposes graphics into real world environments. (Yes, it’s technology that boggles the mind.)
You used to be able to leave the temptation to purchase by leaving the store. Now the temptation follows you. Have you ever wondered why the product you just ordered on Amazon showed up on your Facebook newsfeed? Advertisers collect and use information about you such as your age, gender, income, shopping habits, and the websites you browse to target you with products and services that coincide with your preferences. How it works is pretty simple.
It all comes down to cookies. We’re not talking about the oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip variety. We’re referring to little bits of information stored on your device that advertisers use to target you with their ads. Every time you look at a website, a little bit of text is recorded in your browser history. Advertisers, such as Amazon, then share that data with advertising platforms, such as Facebook.
Clear Your Cache - WE DON’T ALWAYS LOVE COOKIES!
In the online shopping world, most people make an actual purchase on only a fraction of the websites visited. The ease with which we can move from site to site and comparison shop has made it that much more competitive for retailers to capture your business. In fact, only about 2% of visits result in an actual sale on most websites. So what’s a retailer to do? Retargeting.
This is what retargeting look like in real life: Let’s say you visit the Nordstrom’s website and browse the new collections for fall over your morning coffee. You move on from there to peruse your favorite social media platform for a few moments. Then maybe look up the weather, or perhaps the score of last night’s baseball game. Unbeknownst to you, Nordstrom’s had a pixel (a tiny piece of code) on their website that dropped a cookie on your browser. Now, when you visit another website, that cookie identifies you as a Nordstrom’s shopper and “voila”, you’re going to see a Nordstrom’s ad on the pages you visit. The goal of course is to remind you that you need to add a couple of sweaters to your wardrobe with the hope that you’ll revisit www.nordstrom.com, this time to make a purchase.
Cookies Small bits of data that are stored either temporarily or on your hard drive that help websites keep track of you and understand your preferences.
Like every other aspect of technology, the world of caches and cookies is changing. The majority of mobile platforms don’t support cookies, which is good news for you but bad for the advertiser. There are many other ways that advertisers can follow you and try to get your business.
Geo-targeting is a common tool being employed by retailers. This feature allows advertisers to show relevant ads to their target audience based on their location, whether it be through location-detecting features on a smartphone, or an IP address. For instance, a nationwide department store chain may be featuring sweaters to people visiting their website from Minneapolis while highlighting swimwear to those tuning in from Miami Beach.
The bottom line is, the competition for your hard-earned dollar is fierce. Advertisers work very hard to learn all they can about you: where you shop, where you eat, what you “like” on Facebook, where you live, work, or travel to on vacation. They use that information to personalize their advertising, showing you what they believe you are most likely to buy.