Brian’s Grab Bag: The Wild New World Of Retail

Every so often I like to just put up a few links to great ideas the BrainJuicer team have bumped into online. This post’s theme is retail.

An awful lot of retail innovation right now involves managing the fallout from the digital shopping revolution. Lucy Jones of the Financial Times may have nominated “phygital” among her worst words of 2012 – can’t say I blame her – but the mix of physical and digital doesn’t need a portmanteau to matter. Innovation blog PSFK spotlighted two interesting developments recently – PayPal and QR-code driven vending machines in Singapore, and more radically ‘virtual supermarkets’ in China: augmented reality shops where your virtual selections become real deliveries.

PayPal vending machines, from PSFK.

For once-mighty brands who’ve found themselves disrupted by start-ups, retail might offer an unlikely route to salvation. Polaroid, for instance – whose newest idea is fotobars where you can print super-premium copies (on anything from picture stock to bamboo!) of your digital photos. For such brands the experience is King.

Other brands want to enhance their physical experience too. Nissan, for instance, is exploring the idea of a brand smell in its showrooms. Don’t laugh, it sounds rather a nice smell – and at BrainJuicer we’ve learned that scent can pack a big punch in sales terms.

Away from such rarefied concerns the big boys of retail are still mass market stores selling to a mass of consumers. And when you get people together, things can get a little vexed – an upcoming paper in the Journal of Consumer Research explores what happens when customers break social norms. “Consumer to consumer punishment decisions”, they call it – whether people get called out for queue jumping or spilling goods. It’s a jungle out there, people: shop safely.

Consumer behavior in a retail environment isn’t always so wild, but it is often “irrational” and understanding it can help your store or brand thrive. Next Wednesday, Will Leach of BrainJuicer Behavioral Labs is giving a free webinar exploring shopper insights in a world of behavioral economics. I’ll be blogging more about that on Monday but here’s a link if you want to register right now.

In the meantime, happy reading, and enjoy your weekends!


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