Mark Bridge writes:
When it came to telephones, my granny was an early adopter. She had a landline phone for as long as I can remember - and that’s quite a while when you consider the town only got an automatic telephone exchange two years after I was born. Recent research has now suggested that my granny was also well ahead of the game when it came to consumer behaviour.
This week, the UK’s Interactive Media in Retail Group - an industry association for e-retailers - has published an interesting study.
It’s found that a fair number of people whip their mobiles out when in a shop to see what competitors are doing. Quite a few of them end up buying from the online rival and not the real-world store they’re standing inside.
What can these high-street retailers do? Well, they could block mobile signals by building a Faraday cage from tinfoil and chicken wire. They could offer a well-publicised ‘price match’ promise. They might want to introduce a WiFi network for customers, offering promotional deals and distracting consumers from their mobile network. They may even want to combine those last two options, as John Lewis has just announced.
But what does any of this have to do with my late grandmother?
Granny was living in her own house well into her 90s. Every so often she would walk to the shops, pulling her shopping trolley - which was a unique construction that combined pram wheels, a walking stick and an umbrella stand. I’m serious. She’d occasionally sit on someone’s garden wall and catch her breath. But when it was time to vote, the polling station was a bit further away.
Fortunately, one of the political parties would offer elderly voters a free lift to the polling station. It wasn’t the party that granny wanted to vote for, but this wasn’t a problem to her. She’d get a lift, place her vote, and get another free lift home.
If they’re not careful, some high street shops could well find themselves in the same position as granny’s helpful political party. Shoppers would browse their aisles for inspiration rather like using a catalogue - and then they’d head to John Lewis for free WiFi, a cup of coffee and some online shopping!