Nov 15 2011

two new technology apps

Last week Apple announced a new Apple Store App

The Apple Store App is a free download from the App Store and allows users to use their iPhone or iPad to scan a UPC barcode in any Apple Store using EasyPay, log on with their user ID and use the credit card on file to pay for the item. Receipts are then available on the device and can be emailed to you as well.

What this means for the consumer is the option to learn a little something about a product at the store, test it out on display and when they are ready to purchase – they no longer need to find a T-shirted salesperson but can do the entire transaction themselves. In the testing of similar technologies – losses did not increases dramatically and the potential is of course that it can increase sales of individuals who might leave due to long lines or lack of service.

The other feature of the App is to find the item online at home then order for pickup in the Apple Store. This is not a new trend and the tested turnaround times are bit higher than the norm – at 12 minutes. This feature of ordering has been pretty standard for many retailers the past 2 years or so but with Apple – they will most likely strive to differentiate their offering with greater customer service and speed of delivery.

Starbucks Cup Magic App

In a similar vain to owning the retail experience and making it immensely personal is the new Starbucks Cup Magic App that was released today. The free App for iPhone and Android devices utilizes the phone’s camera to immerse the user into an augmented reality world. Anyone can us the App to scan  a typical Starbucks Holiday cup and the 2D printed characters come to life on one’s desk or other environment. Some screen shots I took at the Gensler LA office of two discarded cups I tried the App on. Visitors can collect the characters in a virtual world on their smartphones and share photos and FB updates of their experiences with the playful animated scenes.

The brand has also placed key seasonal ads in all the location which can be activated by the AR App – which allows consumers to get the added bonus for visiting a brick-and-mortar location. What I like about the app is the cup is a still a good coffee cup and if you want the primary experience of consuming a Starbucks beverage – this App only adds to the experience but does not diminish it or make you do extra work just to get your caffeine fix.

Both Apps make it more apparent that the ‘novelty’ of interactive digital media such as phone apps are no longer an added treat for the consumer but they are real tools of the retail shopping experience. The Starbucks App may be lighthearted in this incarnation but imagine when your phone App can see how that item will look in your home, how that shirt will look on you, how that picture will look when placed on your wall or which Ikea cabinet actually fits into that space. Some of these applications are occurring in limited release but the very near future has technology like this affecting not only the way we shop but how we interact daily and live.