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The future is bumping into things

I went to the pub yesterday while the kids went to the gym, which thanks to Pokémon Go turned out to be one and the same place. All four still wanted cheesy chips and an appetiser, so it wasn’t a cheap evening, but it did make me think about the way that Pokémon is changing our relationship between technology and the real world – and what that means for retail.

Retailers really have to make the way people interact with technology even more simple and rewarding. We talk blithely about customer experience, but ask how is a digital interaction and a real-world interaction is currently connected in the store, and the answer is not at all really. Yet.

It’s not simply a question of enabling people to connect, but making them connected all the time. Pokémon Go now has more users than Twitter, at the same time as retailers are struggling to get their customers to identify themselves in-store by using the app. Therefore how do we get more shoppers engaging with technology?

Gamifying the experience is one important clue. Right now, we think that gaming and shopping are not connected, but in the minds of younger consumers, they most definitely are. Enabling web visitors to interact in ways that are immersive and rewarding will become more and more important.

You may say that this will never impact B2B, but why not? Digital natives do not want a huge gulf between the tech they use in their personal lives and what they then use for work. And anyway, the lines between the two are already blurred.

In the supply chain, there are tech companies that are already gamifying distribution centre work schedules, encouraging some friendly competition between employees and giving them a fun incentive to get schedules done quickly. Sounds a bit patronising? Not when you consider the more boring elements of a typical DC shift.

Fun or not fun, we all have to make digital activity easier. Pokémon Go has managed to cross the divide between the digital and the real world, so we no longer need to ask why the countryside is now littered with kids wandering across the fields. This is the baseline we will all need to work to.


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