IBM is testing a new augmented-reality mobile shopping app that helps retailers personalize each customer's shopping experience on their mobile device.
IBM (NYSE: IBM) is testing a new
augmented-reality mobile shopping app that enables retailers to personalize
each individual customers shopping experience right from the palm of their
hands, via their smart phone or tablet.
The new app out of IBM Research is
what IBM refers to as an augmented-reality mobile shopping app that will make
it possible for consumers to pan store shelves and receive personalized product
information, recommendations and coupons while they browse shopping
According to Big Blue, consumers
using the app can enter a store, download the app on their smart phone or
tablet, register and create a profile of features that matter to themfrom
product ingredients that could trigger an allergy, to whether packaging is
biodegradable. When they point their devices video camera at merchandise, the
app will instantly recognize products and, via augmented-reality technology,
overlay digital details over the imagessuch as ingredients, price, reviews and
discounts that apply that day. If consumers opt in, information from their
social networks can be integrated into the information stream. For instance, if
a friend had reviewed or made a comment about a product theyre looking at,
theyll see it, IBM said in a press release on the new app.
The video camera on the mobile
device will be able to recognize products according to shapes, colors and other
features using advanced image-processing technologies. The retailers back-end
computer system, powered by IBM Smarter Commerce software, will deliver
information to the mobile device, where IBMs advanced augmented-reality
technologies overlay the information on the product images.
Indeed, using IBMs prototype app,
shoppers looking for breakfast cereal could specify that they want a brand low
in sugar, highly rated by consumers and on sale. As a shopper pans the mobile
devices camera across a shelf of cereal boxes, the augmented-reality shopping
app reveals which cereals meet the criteria and provides a same-day coupon to
entice consumers to make a purchase.
In the age of social media,
consumer expectations are soaring and people want information and advice about
the products theyre going to buy, said Sima Nadler, retail lead at IBM
Research, in a statement. By closing the gap between the online and in-store
shopping experience, marketers can appeal to the individual needs of consumers
and keep them coming back.
The app, being developed by IBMs
Research lab in Haifa, Israel, addresses the fundamental gap between the wealth
of real-time product details on the Web that in-store shoppers do not have
access to as part of their browsing experiencedespite the fact that in-store
shopping accounts for more than 92 percent of the retail volume, according to
Moreover, retailers will be able to
use the app to build in-store traffic by connecting with individual consumers,
turning marketing into a welcomed service that is not intrusive, IBM said. The
app can make it easier for retailers to understand consumer likes and dislikes
and offer related products in other aisles, such as bananas or milk, to
accompany a cereal purchase. It could also make loyalty points and digital
coupons become more convenient for shoppers, freeing them from the hassle of
searching for discounts.
A recent IBM survey found that
consumers actively seek out shopping advice from peers, family, friends and
strangers. It also found that consumers are eager to opt in to retail
programs in exchange for coupons, rewards and discounts.
Beyond helping consumers, this new
app is expected to bring value to retailers, serving as a natural platform for
them to interact with their customers at the point when purchasing decisions
are made. Aside from the ability to suggest up-sell and cross-sell offers in
the store itself, retailers will have the opportunity to gain invaluable
insights that can help optimize floor plans and product arrangements in their
stores, IBM said.