Mobile Devices: How the iPad 2 Will Change Customer Engagement
As consumers clamor to adopt emerging mobile technology, covering a constantly evolving line of smartphones and tablets, retailers are rushing to integrate mobile commerce into their sales and merchandising strategies. With the availability of apps for phones and iPads, mobile websites, QR codes, and text messages, to name only a few options, retailers must make some difficult choices regarding the best mobile technologies to pursue for their marketing efforts. Many retailers have focused their efforts on the year-old iPad, which they quickly realized could offer new opportunities for sales and customer engagement.
The tablet enables an augmented shopping experience both because of its larger form factor, which naturally engages users to a higher degree relative to the smaller smartphone display, and its capability for enhanced product visualizations, rich interactivity and seamless integration of multimedia. After last year's launch of the original iPad, marketers talked about the impact it would have on the retail consumer experience. Now the iPad 2, introduced in March, may allow retailers to further extend the virtual shopping experience in some very interesting new ways.
2 Video Cameras
From the customer's standpoint, perhaps the most significant new feature of the iPad 2 is its two video cameras — one front-facing and one rear-facing. The first-generation iPad had no camera at all. The dual configuration of the iPad 2 is designed to support video chat, but for retailers the addition of a camera to the tablet could make a big difference in customer engagement.
As with the original iPad, retailers can continue to explore the concept of "clientelling" — i.e., enabling store associates on a retail floor to access a customer's account, wish lists, purchase history and preferences via systems integration through the iPad to provide a high-touch customer service experience in-store. But with iPad 2, a sales associate can take it one step further. For example, by taking a photo of a customer, then drawing on data that indicates the customer's fashion preferences, a store associate can create a variety of outfits for that customer to view right on the iPad screen.