Excerpt: For a growing number of shoppers this holiday season, the difference between offline and online will be no line at all.
With an avalanche of new smartphone apps just in time for Black Friday, these handheld shopping tools are redefining the art of consumption, blurring the distinction between the in-store experience and the virtual world of information now available in the palm of your hand. Advances in location-based technology, bar-code scanning, price-comparison apps and social-networking tools have turned the mobile device into a sweaty-palmed third channel of commerce, empowering consumers while challenging retailers to rethink the way they do business.
"The future of online is offline," said Cyriac Roeding, co-founder and CEO of Shopkick, a popular shopping app. "These apps are encouraging people to interact in brand new ways with products and with the store itself, fundamentally changing the shopping experience."
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The future of online is offline," said Cyriac Roeding, co-founder and CEO of Shopkick, a popular shopping app. "These apps are encouraging people to interact in brand new ways with products and with the store itself, fundamentally changing the shopping experience."
"We think mobile purchasing has arrived and it's evolving quickly," Rathi said. "People who walk into your store now are no longer comparing you to the next brick-and-mortar site but to everything else offline and on. Shoppers are shopping and comparing prices on a global level."
"We call it a virtual end-cap," said CEO Mark DiPaola of CheckPoints, referring to the shelves at the end of an aisle. His app earns you rewards simply for scanning bar codes on certain items. "Even though the product may be way in the back, we feature it in your phone and make it feel like it's right up front when you walk in to the store. At the same time, we're making money by driving tens of thousands of users to these products, breeding new customers for the manufacturer."
Anne Zybowski, an analyst at Kantar Retail, says that a few years ago "retailers spent a ton of time trying to make their online stores look and act like their physical stores. Now they've sort of reversed course, and the challenge is how to take that online shopping experience that's so personalized, socially connected and heavily layered with data, and essentially bring it into a physical environment."