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Google aiming to change the way we shop… for good!

Alex Christie

7 June 2010

At a time when Google is invading our living rooms with the launch of Google TV, you would have thought that those at Google Towers might not have time to change the way we shop.

You’d be wrong.

Whilst this still may not be the ’year of the mobile’, the smartphone is putting considerably more information and hence power in the hands of the shopper at the point of purchase. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android Phone are enabling your customers to access more choice and understand a more accurate cost of the item they wish to purchase whilst in-store.

Pricing points

You might think there is nothing new in thinking that getting your pricing right is vital to your sales and essentially you’d be right, however online search has now brought this into even sharper focus. Retailers have always had to get their pricing points correct otherwise customers head off down the high road to get the same product for less elsewhere.

Your value proposition might differentiate your store on the basis of quality customer service or good after-sales care with the rise of the pure-play online store, but the majority of the target market is relatively inelastic to price differences, especially in today’s economic climate. Whilst price is not a driver of repeat custom, you do need to first ensure the sale in order to have the chance of retaining a customer.

The difference in the price versus service approach is brought into stark contrast by DSGi’s Dixons.co.uk and the ad campaign they ran starting in September of last year, using the tagline: “Dixons.co.uk – the last place you want to go”.

dixons

This highlights a sector of the target market that is discerning enough to know where best to go to complete their research and information gathering phase of their purchasing journey and where to go to actually make the purchase.  DSGi is playing to that audience. The issue that DSGi skirted is that developments in the search market mean that the customer in their ad may not go to Dixons.co.uk, after visiting John Lewis or Selfridge’s, but to another retailer selling the item even cheaper than them!

DIY barcode scanning

The change in the search market I allude to is the ability to search the web by scanning a barcode on your smartphone. See an overview of how this works.

What the video does not show you is the impending integration with price comparison engines. This will allow the user to view, real-time, the price being charged by other retailers for the same product.

Purchasing power most definitely in the hands of the consumer!

So, does middle England’s best loved department store continue to only price match other bricks-and-mortar stores and safe guard its position in the market as the leader in customer service, or is it inevitable that it will lose a certain percentage of its sales to cheaper competitors as they are unable to match their pricing point?

Searching by image

That’s right, now that you can search the web by barcode why not by other images? And wouldn’t you know it: Google has done just that, with their launch of Goggles (current only Google Android phones but soon to be rolled out on other platforms). Basically, take a picture of an object with your phone, click search and see relevant image results.

Now in the context of retailing, this development increases the power of the consumer even further. Imagine a customer in your shop that takes a fancy to a jumper you’re offering. They take a photo of it and run a Google Google’s search. So, not only can your customers instantly see alternatives to your product lines being offered by your competitors (both online and offline) whilst in your store, but they can also compare your price against theirs. Choice and price win in this comparison!

The flip side to the story is just as important. If your website images are not optimised correctly, then your products will not be returned by Goggles when a customer runs an image search whilst in one of your competitors’ stores and you’re not even a consideration in the purchase decision.

And that’s where Tamar comes in as we can assist you in this area and drive traffic from your images – I bet you never thought that would be possible!

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