Cyber Monday Points To New Retail Realities: Are We Going To Be There?

Consider the mid-thirties office worker getting set for a mid-morning coffee break. As he heads for the break room, he decides to check his smart phone for messages. In the process of checking messages, he gets an email alert: the coffee truck next door is offering free coffee today. Next alert: a loyalty rewards program qualifies him for a free sandwich today at the food truck parked outside the building.Come lunch time, he opts for the sandwich. When he pays with the tap of his mobile phone, the food truck operator scans information about his buying habits from the mobile phone. Later that day, the truck operator gets a report from his mobile marketing service on what promotions should be sent to that consumer next week.Do you care to consider how much business the vending/OCS operator serving this employees location loses to the mobile marketing savvy competitor over the course of a year?Here in vending/OCS land, weve paid a lot of attention to the opportunities of cashless vending and the electronic wallet, not necessarily recognizing that these innovations are only a small part of the bigger world of e-commerce and mobile commerce.This realization hit me hard when I saw the news about this years Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. According to comScore, a company that tracks digital industry sales, online retail spending during Black Friday saw an increase of 26 percent when compared to 2010, with mobile devices accounting for a big portion.This brought to mind an earlier report by Aberdeen Group, Web Analytics: Actionable Insights for Unlocking the Hidden Potential of Online Data. (For information, go to: http://tinyurl.com/7hlbwbd) It provided a look into the online analytics retailers are using, and how retailers are pursuing opportunities in mobile and social commerce.In reading the highlights of this report, it wasnt hard to see these tools can and should apply vending and refreshment services. Its scary to consider that our retail competitors are arming themselves with these tools at our expense. The vending and refreshment services industry has a lot of work ahead in the area of cashless transaction alone. In the meantime, operators need to understand the bigger picture: e-commerce, social media and mobile commerce are shaping consumer behavior. Vending and refreshment service operators already have a lot of the infrastructure needed to play in the emerging world of online commerce. They need to take a cue from their retail competitors and get up to speed on the tools they need to succeed in a changing retail environment.

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