As smart phone penetration increases (we are at 61% according to Nielsen), marketers and software developers are working hard to pierce the skins of those devices and turn them into selling machines. And cash registers. As someone who works in the business of selling and who proudly claims to be “always on” when it comes to consumer behavior, I am decidedly “off”  when it comes to intrusive sales pitches. I don’t like telemarketers. I cringe at the approach of door-to-door sales people. And long paper coupons on sales receipts revive my inner tree hugger.  

Using geo-tracking and store Wi-Fi many retailers are able to track our smarties, bounce to the database and enhance (their word not mine) our shopping experience.  Enhance meaning increase the ring or ticket value. Help me find something I really want and need and that’s great. Spa-zam me, not great.

There are going to be a number of ham-handed uses of this retail technology over the next few years. And it will taint the good practice. If it feels as if our privacy is being compromised, if it feels like an intrusion, it is a poor application. My recommendations to retailers is to let customers opt-in to these new services. The work real hard on the app and the delivery.  Make shoppers want to turn on the app. Make the apps killer and endemic to the store brand and everyone will want to participate.  That’s activation. Peace.