Although I haven't had the pleasure of purchasing an Apple iPad yet, I have got the chance to touch and play with one in the Apple Store on 5th Avenue! Industry experts believe that retailers will reap enormous rewards from integrating applications into the new iPad. So far, few retailers have embraced the new Apple device even though many already have iPhone apps. Gap, Gilt.com and eBay are among the retail brands that have created iPad applications, while Puma is expected to add iPads to its stores late this year.
Natalie Zmuda from Adage comments, "The first, most logical applications include e-commerce and interactive catalogs. But in time, the iPad could be used as a virtual sales assistant, allowing sales staff in the dress department to pull up coordinating accessories from the jewelry or shoe department. Car dealers could customize a vehicle, showing customers colors and finishes, all while standing in the parking lot. Transactions could be completed without visiting a register and special orders could be placed on the spot. Cumbersome, expensive kiosks could also be replaced".
Gap's 1969 Stream app, launched earlier this month, takes that idea one step further with a social-shopping experience that includes content from designers, musicians and fashion insiders, the ability to purchase items (or share them with a friend) without leaving the app and a geo-locator to find the nearest store. It includes a music video from Truth & Salvage, a video of Jay Sario from "Project Runway" dressing consumers in Gap denim, photos of celebs wearing Gap and tweets from designer Patrick Robinson.
This is a perfect example of how emerging technology can benefit almost all businesses in a new and innovative way. Only problem is, where are all the early adopters? It will be interesting to see in the coming months what major retailers will jump on board in order to gain a piece of the pie and be seen as a re-innovator in times where 'new and innovative' is imperative in order to stay in the game.
IPad Meets Retail: Half a dozen ways industry execs imagine the iPad could be used at retail
- 1. Catalogs: Online versions of print catalogs haven't taken off, but iPad versions, with embedded video, as well as the ability to browse whenever it's convenient and make purchases could be the next big thing.
- 2. Customization: Cars, furniture, shoes and apparel could all be customized in-store, with customers able to easily view and select colors, fabrics and finishes, and then place the special order.
- 3. Sales Floor Assistant: The iPad could provide easy access to product data, customer data and customer reviews, in addition to allowing transactions to be completed away from the register.
- 4. Personal shopper: Customers finding a jacket in one department could access recommendations for coordinating apparel and accessories in other departments.
- 5. Registries: Now divided into an offline and online experience, iPad could enable customers to create registries from a store's entire inventory.
- 6. E-Commerce: Consumers are already shopping on their phones; it's only a matter of time before the iPad becomes another shopping tool.