Financial Times: Big retail now investing heavily in digital

May 11, 2010 by Dave Haynes

department store

There’s an interesting piece today in the UK Financial Times about big American retailers coming to grips with the huge changes being brought on by smart phones and digital.

… three years after Apple launched its first iPhone, the advent of what retailers call “mobile connectivity” is profoundly shaking up the way retailers do business, not only online, but in their stores.

“People are going to be making decisions on what to buy in the store with their mobile phones,” says Scott Silverman, executive director of the National Retail Federation’s industry group. “What’s going on will affect the mothership – the store – and all of a sudden the store experience is going to completely change.”

“I’ve never seen a time like this in retail,” says Andy Murray, head of Saatchi & Saatchi X, the in-store marketing agency that works with customers including Walmart and Procter & Gamble. “I think mobile is changing everything in retail.”

Apart from the obvious, this is interesting because of the description of how these big retailers have been quietly making technology infrastructure changes to deal with all of this. They understand the need to adapt to the dynamic or get left in the dust, and that embrace (or surrender) to digital should mean big retail is fully opening its mind to how technology can be used and optimized.

My Preset colleague David Weinfeld very capably wrote Monday about how smart phones are changing retail, and how digital screens tie in and are part of the evolving shopper landscape. Retail has been a tough nut for the digital signage to crack until now, but clear indications that the mass market guys are making the adjustments can only be good news.

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