Examples of ‘life sat navs’ on a mobile.

A male shopper.

A male shopper walks past a clothing store and gets a text message saying that the store has a promotion that fits his wife’s personal tastes and reminds him that it is their wedding anniversary soon. He enters the shop and the shop’s smart phone app helps to him decide exactly which dress size and design would be best for his wife based on the outfit planning that she has done with the help of a similar app on her phone. The phone app tells him where to look in the store for the dress, its product number and it also suggests accessories that other customers have bought for dresses like this one.

Notice how the apps gives a personalised, real-time and local service – and it also integrates social network data.

Helping the shopper with these improvements to immediacy, customisation and usefulness also helps the retailer because it makes the shopper much more productive per shopping trip and the shopping trips much more frequent. This aligns with retailers’ key objectives of maximising ‘share of wallet’ and frequency of visits to store.

A personal helper in a busy airport.

Imagine a family in a foreign airport that they have never been to. They are tired, stressed and they are not enjoying the start of their holiday. But the baby needs changing and the older child is hungry. Then Dad discovers that the snack that they packed has spilled out over the baby’s nappies and their flight connection departs in fifteen minutes. They do not know where to get a snack that their five year old will eat, fresh nappies or where their departure gate is.

Then Mum remembers that she loaded a smart phone app when they booked their flights. It turns out that the app knows where they are, where their departure gate is and, most importantly, it also asks about what other services they need. So they use its simple menus and suggestions to choose places to buy a snack and some nappies. Then the app builds them a customised map of the quickest route to these shops and their gate – and it updates their route as they move through the airport.

They reach the gate in plenty of time and spend the last five minutes downloading suggestions for transport from the destination airport to their hotel – and places to eat because the kids will be hungry again. Dad travels a lot with work so he makes a mental note to ask Mum how to get a copy of the app for himself.

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