Since my early days in retail innovation centers I have been thinking about how the inevitable success of location-aware smart phones can directly introduce the retailer and the retailer to the shopper. Have written here about more visual methods like those used by Junaio to augment consumer reality.
A whole bunch of value-enhancing possibilities pop up when a shopper can enrich their information channel once they enter a venue of any kind. I was just introduced to Foursquare, which specifically allows the mobile user to check-in into a location.
A very good piece in Mashable describes some ways that Foursquare could 'change the world'. Some of the aspects also make sense for retail applications, and are being applied already. For example, the system automatically creates a loyalty environment by noticing when you are 'there'. It creates the means to make a game of shopping 'touches' than can also identify true fans and mavens. It can enrich the connection between shopper and retailer, and also link to the manufacturer. Either could provide tailored promotions and incentives to their shoppers and enrich the bond between them. Thinking of loyalty touches as a creative game is also a plus.
Of course the shopper can also go around the retailer to get to the manufacturer as well once they are trained in smartphone use. The wide usage of smartphones is approaching rapidly.
Others are noticing this concept of location-based touching as well. The 'augmented reality' vendor Yelp has just announced it has added 'check-in' to the abilities in its IPhone application. Its a simple idea that has quite a bit of potential.
Here is an open invitation to any of the vendors mentioned or linked to here, retailers or manufacturers to contact me about the further development of this concept. Interviewed many consumers in the innovation center about how and when they would be willing to engage in the aisle. Have a passion about how to make this happen effectively.