Small town, big shopping

I went to a small town yesterday where a global fashion brand is headquartered. In the last few years this small town also developed a nice staple of premium brand factory outlets and is now an attractive shopping location. My current boss proposed to take an early train out there to use the opportunity to go shopping and so we did. The four of us arrived quite early in the morning and sat down at an Italian coffee bar to enjoy cappuccinos. We had three hours until our meeting started and a folder of the outlet center with a map.

Outlet Center MapWhen I looked at the map I thought of ways to make the outlet center and its offerings more accessible to shoppers. But how? Here are a few thoughts:

Futuristic.
Wouldn’t it be great if anyone had a digital device to display the map and show offerings as you stroll by the different stores? Even better if you coud quickly go through a couple of questions about your preferences (and sizes) and then get a list of recommended shops to look at.
Very futuristic I agree. But how far away are we? Two to three years? 10 years? What do you think?

Still futuristic.
So if personal digital and intelligent map displaying devices are still to come (and to be adopted by consumers!) what about turning this around? How about putting digital and intelligent map displaying kiosk systems in place? Will consumers use them to navigate through a shopping district’s offerings? The technology exists already and RFID could empower this even more by personalizing the experience. Hmm…?

Today … but still too far off?
Everyone carries a cell phone these days. So here we are: the personal digital device. But the lack of a common standard and the wide variety of screen sizes seem to be a hurdle for offering clever tools to drive consumers to relevant offerings in real live shopping experiences. Or is it the consumers themselves who are not yet ready?

Let me know what you think.

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