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Retailers Rate Highest When Their Digital and Physical Experiences Map

Last week, Paul Carr wrote on TechCrunch about Amazon's botched release of Michael Lewis' latest book -- The Big Short:  Inside the Doomsday Machine.

Carr pointed out that the book had 64 one-star reviews, more than the total of 2/3/4 or 5 star reviews combined.  This might have lead shoppers to the conclusion that the book was trash. 

But Carr looked a little deeper and found that more than half of the one-star reviews were in fact NOT reviews of  the book at all, but complaints about Amazon not releasing the book's Kindle version. 

In other words, the harsh reviews were the complaints of disappointed buyers looking for the Kindle version, who, in their expression of ire, were in fact, likely contributing to the frustration of Amazon shoppers who might have been perfectly happy to buy the bound copy -- if they could wade through the shrill Amazon commentary to get to the real book reviews.

Which provides us with a great case in point about the need for retailers to map their customers' virtual and physical experiences -- or suffer the gap. 

During the past few months, we have been writing about requirements for success for next-gen retailers in the post-recession consumer economy.  Mapping customers' virtual and physical experiences -- and vice versa, was one of our top five themes. 

We developed these ideas from polling retailers and other b-to-c operations managers -- hundreds of them.  We have been sharing our findings with friends at various events, such as Ryzex' Invitational at NRF in January, and in greater detail with our clients.  Our clients are retail technology solution providers. 

Retail technology solution providers' clients are the retailers.  Some of whom show up on BusinessWeek's list of the Customer Service Champs from their March 1, 2010 issue. 

We did a quick dive into some of the entries on the list.  We were looking for evidence linking companies on this list with strategies, and IT investments, that supported our assertion that mapping virtual and physical worlds is a key to success in this environment. 

Here is what we found in a quick and dirty investigation:  At least 5 of the top 10 ranked companies on the list rolled out solutions and/or programs that integrated customers' physical and digital experiences in 2009.  

We do not think this is coincidence.  Customers are only migrating further toward the internet -- the mobile internet -- to shop, buy and manage their accounts.  Consumers increasingly expect that their merchants will be at least as adept at transitioning from digital to virtual and back as they are.  When they are:  High rankings with JD Power and Business Week.

If you and your teams are developing, marketing, selling, installing and/or supporting traditional or next-gen retail solutions inside any b-to-c enterprises, you might consider making sure that your positioning meets retailers' need to balance and integrate their customers' digital and physical experiences. 

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