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Technology Is Helping to Redefine the 'Last 3 Feet' In-Store

  |  January 15, 2013   |  Comments

We need to leverage all technology has to offer to merchandise products where it matters most, wherever that may be.

To retail marketers, the term "the last three feet" use to mean the last three feet in the store, sometimes called "the moment of truth" or the "moment of purchase." Today, the last three feet may be a variable, based on the technology or device your consumers are using at the moment of purchase. The last three feet could be the shopping cart on a mobile app, a YouTube video with links to product purchase, a customer service rep, a sales clerk with a tablet or smartphone in-hand, or perhaps in the future your smart appliance in your kitchen.

At CES last week, Samsung featured the Android-based Samsung T9000 refrigerator that has a tablet installed on the front of the fridge and comes loaded with popular apps like Evernote and Epicurious. Now anyone in the family - your spouse, your kids - can use Evernote to create a grocery list on the refrigerator. When you get to the store, your collective "family"-crowdsourced grocery list that you generally forget at home will be accessible from you mobile device. Further, Samsung has partnered with Unilever to occasionally serve up coupons for products that you use in your fridge. The "on fridge" tablet can also surface recipes through Epicurious based on the food in your fridge, assuming you use the app's grocery manager to keep track of what's going into the fridge through its easy-to-drag-and-drop interface.


Target's Shoppable Video

Last fall, Target launched "Falling For You," a short film in three episodes that is fully integrated into the digital commerce experience. Directed by Emmy award-winning Director Phil Abraham ("Mad Men," "Sopranos"), the film features Hollywood artists Kristen Bell, Nia Long, and Zachary Abel. Almost everything on the screen is for sale at Target and available for immediate purchase. Built within the same screen, running alongside the video is a scrolling list of Target product thumbnails. Consumers can save, purchase, tweet, pin, or Facebook post any of the Target products they like immediately, or simply save them to buy later.


YouTube is also in the shoppable video game. With its new external annotations beta technology, it's possible for retail brands to integrate videos with e-commerce. Hover over an item in a YouTube video and it will bring up a semi-transparent white frame that links to the e-commerce product page. Juicy Couture is one retailer that has signed up to test this new function.

Mobile Shopping App

Almost every aspect of our lives is being transformed by the smartphone. When you think of the retail experience, especially at Walmart, you tend to think of a shopping experience stuck in time. The latest version of Walmart's mobile app is quickly changing that perception. It allows consumers to shop at home, in stores, or on-the-go. The app has a new store mode that can surface personalized coupons to consumers while they shop in Walmart. Consumers can scan items in-store and use the Smart Shopping List to budget. Walmart claims that 12 percent of the sales that come through its app are coming from customers who are inside a store and using "in-store mode," and it works in all of Walmart's 4,000 U.S. stores. Walmart has 140 million weekly shoppers in the U.S. - that is Internet scale in an offline world.

Sales staff in-store still have influence on the customer purchase journey, and with technology through smartphones and tablets, that is set to increase. Catalysta is an example of an app that is being used for sales force product training with a full rewards program for sales staff, and it runs on mobile, desktop, or tablet. It is completely integrated into the social networks. The app reaches sales teams in the last three feet, whether in-store or on the phone, and helps them increase product knowledge, product sales, and product recommendations.


Whether you're putting technology into the hands of the consumers, the sales staff, or inside the actual product, the ever-changing digital landscape forces marketers to constantly rethink the creation, organization, and distribution of content in order to better connect with consumers. The last three feet may indeed still be considered in "the retail store," but we need to leverage all technology has to offer to merchandise products where it matters most, wherever that may be.

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Janice Diner

Janice Diner is an award-winning creative director and technologist working in the area of social and emerging media technology and founding partner at Horizon Studios. Janice and her team built CATALYSTA, a sales force activation platform that engages, motivates, and rewards sales teams.

She is a pioneer brand builder in Facebook, serves as an advisor at the MaRS Discovery District, and was a judge at the Cannes Advertising Lions. Janice has a track record of accomplishment developing multiple social initiatives for global brands such as Motorola, LinkedIn Canada, TSN, Sony PlayStation, Hertz Car Rental, LexisNexis, to name a few.

Prior to starting Horizon Studios, Janice has held senior positions at Syncapse, Euro Havas, and Interpublic (Segal Communications).

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