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The Future of Shopping

by Katie Meyer / February 20, 2015

With 2015 underway, I can’t help but conjure up retro visions of the future with their flying cars and metallic garb. It may not look exactly how those in the 1950s imagined, but in many ways we have attained the grandiose expectations of a technological landscape. With drones, electric cars, and robo-vacuums controlled by our phones already a norm, how will our visions of 2075 be received by future generations and how will it affect how we do business?

As mobile devices become a permanent fixture in our culture, it allows everything from our “likes,” purchases, and recent locations to be tracked and analyzed to improve the consumer experience; I believe we have merely scratched the surface of how technology and big data will affect our everyday functions moving forward.

These advancements have created a new breed of consumers, and businesses must devise a way to predict behaviors of these mobile savvy shoppers. According to new research from Google, an impressive 42% of consumers will research a desired product on their device while in the store before making a purchase decision, posing an ongoing challenge for businesses to accommodate such behavior and sway customers to choose their product over another. Whether it’s through use of NFC (Near Field Communication) tags, QR (Quick Response) codes on POP signage, or in-store tablets to integrate customer research, this is an evolving arena for marketing agencies like North Forty looking to improve the in-store experience and close the gap between online shopping and the retail environment.

While it’s clear that technology will be integral to compete in the marketplace, businesses need to go all in and take advantage of opportunities to improve the shopper experience. Social media has already integrated a shopping component, with companies like Twitter and Facebook releasing the “buy” button, it’s easier than ever to purchase the product in the post you just “liked” creating a virtually seamless experience. “Geo-fencing” and “Beacons” are buzzwords for the year to come, both of which are technologies that hold the power to identify an app user’s location and send hyper-local push notifications and unique offers when they enter a specified area.

At the end of the day, I can appreciate the efforts of businesses to become more in-tune with my preferences and looking to the future it’s hard to fathom how extensive this data collection will become. As technology continues to envelop every aspect of our day-to-day lives, I find myself dealing with the dilemma of how much information I am willing to share in order to receive such hyper-local and personalized marketing. Although I’m all for the convenience of receiving special offers when I am in the vicinity of a product or business, I’m not prepared for the day when I walk through a shopping mall and find myself in a scene from Minority Report where every billboard knows me by name and purchase history. As consumers, there is a set of checks and balances we must use to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks. This will be a fine line for brands to walk as they try to find the sweet spot of how to utilize that consumer information creatively and responsibly.

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Waxing nostalgic

by Paul Bettenga / October 09, 2014

Unless you’ve recently awakened from a coma, you’re aware that Apple recently introduced their new iPhone 6. All that 'latest and greatest' tech must've triggered my sense of nostalgia, because I found myself thinking of one of my favorite tools from the closet of  “How it Used to be Done.” That is (drumroll please)…the waxing machine.

Nothing quite captures the essence of how much more labor intensive the business was than that. You would load it with pounds of hard wax and wait for it to melt. Upon appropriate viscosity, you were able to feed sheets of typeset copy through it. Doing so applied a layer of wax across the back. Said copy sheet was then placed on layout board and burnished down, ready for print.

Most of the time it went pretty easy. But just like anything else, there were those days. Sometimes the wax wasn’t quite right and you would end up with a much thicker than normal layer of wax. The extra wax was sure to ooze out from behind the type when you burnished it, creating even more work.

Even better, globules of wax on some areas and absolutely none on others. That was always a fun one. Other times you might actually get a nice wax job applied to both sides of the copy sheet. And there was always the chance the rollers would etch a nice scratch down the front of the type, ruining it. Of course, nothing beat the fragrance of burning wax to make the day go by. Ah yes, the good ol’ days. Har, har.

Compare that to what we do today. It’s hard to judge which is more impressive: how far technology has come, or how quickly. We crank out pieces daily that would have taken us weeks only a relatively short time ago. And it’s mind-boggling to imagine where and how quickly it will go from here.

I‘m looking forward to the experience. Now, if we can just eliminate those software glitches…

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