With hundreds of millions of smartphones being used, the merger of the physical and digital worlds continues and its practical application is starting to be seen in a variety of forms. The proliferation of mobile devices and Internet ubiquity are creating unique opportunities for innovations that will bridge the divide between bricks and mortar space and the web.
A recent NYT article "Cellphones Let shoppers Point Click and Purchase" identifies the trend:
...a technological transformation is coming to many of the nation’s retailers. They are determined to strengthen the link between their physical stores and the Web, and to use technology to make shopping easier for consumers and more lucrative for themselves. The main way they plan to do it is by turning people’s mobile phones into information displays and ordering devices. Can’t find the flour at the grocery store? Grocers will offer phone applications that tell shoppers exactly where to go. Is the department store out of size 8 jeans? Retailers want to make it simple to punch a couple of buttons and have the desired size shipped home.
Technology in this space is seen as an opportunity for competitive advantage, with some big retailers being reluctant to discuss their plans. The Sam’s Club division of Wal-Mart, Crate & Barrel, Kerr Drug of North Carolina and Disney stores are among retailers confirming they were testing various mobile technologyies or plan to do so soon. These retailers aren't the only concepts driving innovation around mobility. Health clubs, hospitals, restaurants and other bricks and mortar businesses will begin similar forrays into this space as smartphones continue their surge in the marketplace.
Watch the video below that demonstrates Scanlife technologies, an example of this unique and innovative trend.