Monthly Archives: July 2013

Be wary of how you navigate the store – someone is watching you!

Another great story about big data and Big Brother. This one discusses how some stores are using your own mobile phone and the wifi to track your movements within the store. Click here for article. After reading how my child’s diapers might be providing data to doctors and potentially marketers, now I read that I could be watched when I am in my favorite store. What in the name of Big Brother is going on out there??? Well really nothing new. Before we start clamoring that our privacy has been violated and how this is a treat to our civil liberties, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that this type of tracking is something new. Whenever we are online…someone is tracking our clicks, understanding what is the path to purchase or the path to information we take. You don’t think that someone is not leveraging your purchase patterns to determine what item you may purchase next or which item you will need to replenish? I remember one year where I was making large purchases, on my credit card. It was a “life event” year. And surprise surprise, I started receiving very different marketing offers both in the mail and online. Wonder if anyone had noticed my new spending habits? No surprise, when that spending style did not continue, the marketing offers soon disappeared.

It should come as no surprise then that some retailers are using your own phone to track your physical behavior within a store. With the ability to gather and analysis the data, the retailers and suppliers are looking to better understand what makes us tick when we walk in the store. Does something catch one’s eye and make them more likely to purchase? Does placing the ties near the dress shirts near the suits mean someone who was only looking to buy a suit, might leave with a new tie and shirt as well? Store lay outs and merchandise placements are both a science and an art. You want customers to find what they are looking for, but you also want them to “discover” what they did not know they needed but once they find it, cannot leave without it. Retailers are masters at understanding what makes sense in their lay outs – ever notice that toys for younger children are always on the lower shelves…make sure that target customer actually sees the new toy and makes sure they then tell their parents they want it. I have even noticed stores like Target place small “impulse” buy toys like mini legos, at eye level (for kids) at the check out counter. They know that you are most likely going to be standing still at that point, unloading your cart, what better time than to put an “inexpensive” $5 toy right in front of your kid!

Don’t be surprised as more retailers leverage technology such as wifi, face recognition software, store video cameras or even motion sensors to track your behavior and movements within a store. From a supply chain stand point, think about how you could leverage all this real time behavior and demand data. Could supply chains leverage this extra piece of consumer data into their engines?

End of the day we go into to stores, usually, to buy or look for some merchandise. If the retailer can make that experience a little better for us and potentially more profitable for them, who are we to complain?

As the line goes – A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy – Glen Garry Glen Ross


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Filed under Consumer Product Goods, Marketing, Retail

Big brother takes on a whole new meaning – collecting data from your kids diaper

I just saw this interesting article in about a new product that allows parents to use “smart” diapers for their kids. Click here for article. Really an interesting usage of QR codes and a glimpse into how technology can be leveraged to monitor our current health…and future health. In light of all that has been going on with the NSA snooping on our data, this is another great channel for the NSA to start tracking potential trouble makers. Hahaaa. That was a joke, but only slightly.

Coming to a baby's bottom near you.

Coming to a baby’s bottom near you.

I tend to be an optimist when it comes to technology and how it impacts our day to day lives, this is not exception. But there are some cautions.

The good – being a father myself and remembering how stressful it was at times with a baby in a diaper. Why does his poop look different? Is he peeing enough? Why does he feel hot? And the list of questions a first time parent goes on and on. I can see the value in being able to scan a QR code and get answers to some of these questions. Being able to share, remotely, with the pediatrician data that can either ease ones mind or call for a visit to the doctor. Eventually could that “real time” data allow doctors to anticipate potential issues?

Based on the information your medical provider could anticipate potential issues, send you a text, email or call with a message such as “Bill we noticed that your child was showing early signs of dehydration, we are expecting more of this heat wave make sure you double the liquids your baby intakes.”

Of course there is the potential for less than good. The big brother aspect of this amount of data being shared. What if your medical provider starts trying to predict what diseases that child might get in their 20s or 40s or 70s. And prescribes actions today, which may not work and have many unintended consequences?

On a more business cynical side, how valuable might some of this data be for companies trying to sell you products…I am looking at you large CPG and retailers. P&G might be able to notice that your child’s urine seems to be excessive, and could be leading to greater diaper rash – and poof you get offers for their latest “intense diaper rash cream.” Or maybe they take that data and start building a customer profile…literally from the time you are in diapers.

Overall I am positive that gathering greater data, closer to the consumer, is good. But this reminds us that the data itself isn’t good or bad, it is the way we decide to leverage that data that is what we need to be cautious of.


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Filed under Consumer Product Goods, Current Events, QR Code, Retail

iPhone 6 – a “cheaper” version of the iPhone? Is that really wise?

True to form Apple will release the iPhone 5s later this year, probably scoop up some of those iPhone 4 users who have not yet upgraded. Maybe Apple does not want to lose them to Android…nah no one would make that switch!! Anyways. What is interesting is the rumors that Apple plans to follow that release up with an iPhone 6…but it will not be a generation leap for the phone but more of an inexpensive model to go after emerging markets aka China and India. Wise move or sign that the Jobless company is still struggling to find their innovative fast ball? Going after the likes of China and India makes perfect sense – that is where much of the growth is happening.

Apple needs to get a product into those markets that can compete with the less expensive Android versions as well as the likes of Nokia. Makes good business sense. However, this feels like a shift for our friends at Apple. Couple this with the iPad mini, which from a business stand point made sense – go after the tablet market that was being dominated by the Kindle. The iPad mini coupled with the iPhone 6 and it feels as if Apple is not longer looking to lead with innovation but instead focus on diversifying their existing product portfolio to compete in markets they otherwise ignored. Has the Apple innovation engine run out of steam? Maybe. Or is Apple looking to solidify some of its business, focus on some aspects that could be seen as weak spots in their business. Let us imagine the following:

  • Apple leverages the iPad mini to go directly after Amazon with their Kindle. One might argue that introducing the mini has already knocked out one competitor, albeit a weak one, the Nook from Barnes and Noble. While I do not think it will take out the Kindle, it is clearly offering a viable substitute product for those looking for a 7 inch tablet. Apple now has a product that can compete at all levels of the tablet market. Check.
  • The new iPhone 6, if it is what the rumors claim, gives Apple a device that can go head to head with the less expensive smart phones. This will give Apple a device that can compete with Nokia, who still has a large ownership of the emerging market. Really this is a play to try and fight off Microsoft and their OS that has, no surprise, been adopted by Nokia! Of course it will also allow for Apple to expand its portfolio to compete with Android.

With Apple putting together some offerings that can get them into a more diverse market, they will then be able to refocus on bring us the “next” innovative device. The iWatch? Refocus on the Television? Enhance the iTunes experience?

Let us see what the next few months hold for Apple. For now I think that what we are seeing a business being run like a more “traditional’ business. It is too much to ask for any company to innovate at the pace they did at the end of the Steve Jobs era. Does this mean that Apple is done innovating? Let us hope not. But making sure your business is taken care of first will allow for Apple to one day be able to get back to giving us innovated consumer devices.

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Filed under Current Events, Smart Phone, Tablet, Technology, Wireless