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Razorfish exec: Beacons speed seamless in-store, digital shopping

NEW YORK — Fueled by the increase in beacons and in-store technology, retailers will finally close in on mobile’s promise to bring together bricks-and-mortar and online shopping sooner than some may expect, according to a Razorfish executive speaking at NYC Media Lab’s Mobile Futures event.

A panel discussion with executives at the event from Chase, Razorfish, Oomolo and professors at Columbia University and Cornell Tech discussed mobile’s impact across a variety of sectors, including healthcare, retail and financial services. With marketers increasingly focused on bridging online and bricks-and-mortar store shopping, one of the most interesting topics discussed during the panel was the role of beacons and other in-store technology in bringing the two shopping experiences together.

“For the next 18-24 months, I think we’re going to see this bridging of the digital, physical divide,” said Tom Cramer, strategy director and mobile practice lead at Razorfish, New York.

“We’re, at Razorfish, doing a lot of work around beacon technology — that’s one way,” he said.

“We live in a physical world, and we’re increasingly engaging through a digital model. To get more one-to-one with those experiences in a way where we’re able to live with the grass under our feet and not sitting in a room in front of a screen, the more interesting things are going to get. I think we’re actually pretty close to a tipping point there.”

Connected devices
According to Mr. Cramer, the way that consumers engage with mobile today is primarily one-sided in receiving information from friends and family as well as brands.

That will change within the next five years with more multi-peer frameworks, including bandwidth and network sharing.

With this, consumers will be constantly connected, giving brands new ways to interact with consumers and serve up advertising.

At the same time, a new study from Retale finds that 75 percent of consumers surveyed did not know that beacon technology existed, suggesting that consumers are not aware of the technology’s benefits.

Other key findings in the study include that 71 percent of mobile app users do not want to be tracked in-store, and 56 percent of shoppers are not interested in shopping-triggered push notifications.

Per the executive, the majority of mobile spend from brands today goes through Google’s DoubleClick and AdMob to serve similar ads to all consumers. Going forward, marketers will tap into more contextual features including time of day and past browsing activity to more accurately serve consumers relevant ads.

Winning mobile payments
Manning Field, director of loyalty innovation at Chase, New York, also spoke on the panel about how the financial institution is tackling mobile payments.

According to the executive, mobile payments are too new to pin down a specific tactic or payment type that will win for both banks and consumers.

At the same time, the executive stressed the point that mobile payments need to move beyond transactions to include loyalty, offers or another type of incentivize that pushes consumers to pay digitally instead of using a credit card.

The challenge in doing so is that there is not anything fundamentally wrong with swiping a credit card, meaning that mobile payments need to be focused more on changing a behavior instead of debating which type of technology will power payments.

Additionally, the value exchange in consumers giving over information and data to a brand needs to be clear.

“It’s how do you move beyond the transaction and how do you take things like small and big data and make it into a useful experience for the customer where we can add value, we can drive preference for our products and our solutions,” Mr. Field said.

“If the solution is how to make the transaction move from here to the phone, frankly we don’t find that interesting enough to be able to think we’re going to change behavior,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York