Hackers Grab 40 Million Accounts From Target Stores
Target / AP

Integrated Digital Experiences For Retailers

Integrated digital experiences are at the core of the future of retail. In this short exploration, we look at what it means to be integrated and examples of retailers who are doing it well.

Mobile Shopping Lights The Way

On the one hand, mobile shoppers want instant access to information. When they use their phones inside your store, there is little doubt they are looking for the best product at the best deal. This is an opportunity for retailers to be at the right place at the right time.

On the other hand, what happens when a consumer walks into a store with little to no incentive to buy. They browse. And browse. Then they find the best deal and buy online. We are all guilty of this. Are we to blame for our lack of consumer loyalty or are retailers adapting fast enough to this new breed of mobile consumer?

As consumers are increasingly using their phones and mini-tablets to discover what’s around them, retailers need to get smarter about how to use mobile to their advantage.


Integrated Digital Experiences

Creating integrated shopping experiences is at the core of retail success in the coming years. In today’s connected retail landscape, retailers needs to find new ways to enhance the shopping experience — or lose them to e-commerce. A great example is Walmart’s (in Canada) Grab&Go system.

Walmart Canada created a system for e-commerce customers to pick up their orders from a locker… After shopping online and entering the checkout area on Walmart’s website, customers have the option to select the Grab&Go.

Shoppers are e-mailed a temporary access code that they enter via the touch-screen console to access their items.  No hassle, no lines, no hunting for items. Your shopping is done.

create an interactive kiosk that helps consumers find the perfect product for their needs and improve the overall in-store cosmetics shopping experience. The application features intuitive, and non-intrusive, functionalities that assist consumers with their product selection.

Kiosks are great for stores. They can be great for digital shopping experiences or for brand enrichment. Some of our favorite promotional machines include Coca-Cola’s Small World Machine, which was a promotional item but a connected device none the less and a brilliant start to what retailers can offer customers with connected objects. Not only does it promote the brand but the campaign’s mission and message is touching and effective.

We imagine a future where every item on every shelf is connected. Imagine knowing how many times a customer picked up an item and put it down. Not to mention real-time-inventory management and self-checkout. The more your store is connected, and every item, every piece of furniture has a story to tell.


Tools For Prototyping Mobile Interactions In iOS

We’ve been experimenting with Quartz Composer (QC) and Origami for prototyping mobile . But since the documentation and literature surrounding it was essentially non-existent, it was a turbulent start…

When Facebook and Google both adopt a toolset for prototyping mobile interactions – it’s worth a look. Quartz Composer, made by Apple, hasn’t received any love since 2007. So why now… Because Origami.

Quartz Composer is a node-based visual programming language and comes with the Xcode environment. It is used for processing and rendering graphical data. Origami extends QC by making it easy to generate real native interactions out of the box such as –  tapping, dragging, and scrolling. Designers can generate animations and unique interactions with marginal effort.

Our dive into using QC started with Facebook (and Origami). Facebook wrote (on their blog) about how QC was an indispensable tool for testing new Facebook mobile interactions. We found QC, much like the Facebook team did, quite unruly to use. Origami helped. Origami is an easy to use toolkit for QC that makes prototyping for native iOS mobile applications a whole lot easier. Looking forward, we think the reason why QC is exciting is because of it’s ability to generate very complex interactions quickly. 


Why We Adopt A Variable Scope For Building Digital Products

At Sharp+Nimble, when a potential partner comes to our digital door and asks for a proposal, we often have to start with explaining our process. And one critical element of our approach is a running features list (defined as user stories).

In a World where Software Solutions Providers still over-promise and under-deliver, it’s important for us to break this cycle. We believe that one of the major reasonsons for software solution failure is that your encumbent likely agreed to a fixed price and a fixed-scope approach. Fixed scope and fixed price engagements are dishonest at their core because everyone knows (but won’t admit) that all aspects suffer (work for nothing or money for free).we all know that on anything but the most trivial projects we go almost immediately into a scope change process where both the price and the scope change. When your technology partner over-promises based on false expectations, there seems to be only two situations that can happen:

The first is that, with the only variable left with any flexibility, quality begins to suffer. Mediocrity sets in. And if quality does not matter to you – that may be fine. But we avoid this at all costs.

The other thing that can happen is the preverbial death march. Teams are up late, the pizzas don’t do it anymore, and  this is a great way to create an unhappy and resentful team.

Even if you come bearing the best requirements documentation in hand – reqreuiments change as products are built. So it seems, that the best  method moving forward (and keeping in line with our iterative design and technology methodologies) we must offer a variable scope or a running document called a backlog where we prioritize the user stories for your digital product.

This is not something they need be frighted of, rather it is a tremendous advantage to the customer. Most notably:

Frequent Touchpoints

Process Transparency

Early and Fast Product Releases

Satisfaction Guarantee

No brainer? Well, it’s not that easy.There is a risk in this approach. Our customers may decide to walk away and offer the work to a competitor. Making the shift from a fixed-scope mindset is require a change in not only thoughts but behaviors; customers need to understand how to fast delivery and an iterative process  can create validated decision making and instant impact.

Customers don’t trust their supplier (whether in-house or external). They immaturely attempt to manage their lack of trust by fixed-price, fixed-scope contracts, but what happens is that they fail to varying degrees, which only reinforces their lack of trust. We give our customers a chance to stop engagments at any time, and we deliver value from day 1.