Make The Shopping Experience More Playful

Retailers have been slow to digitally and socially enhance the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, but we have started to see some compelling partnerships across mobile applications and breakthrough technology solutions that will start to enhance the retail relationships between young consumers and national retailers. Looking at a few recent trends and partnerships across the retail landscape, I've provided a look into a few key areas that will likely be capturing the attention and interest of young shoppers as we head into 2011.

Rewarding Group Shopping: While sites such as Groupon have peaked amongst the general population, teens organically shop in groups and college students live in tight geo-clusters. DealSquad is a recent example of a site that takes local offers and drills it down to the campus level, allowing you to essentially rally your dorm around to take action on a local offer. Teens and college students both are prime audiences to provide strong group-buying incentives specifically targeting their core group of friends of campus mates.



Exclusive Offers Around Check-In: Here's where SCVNGR is starting to make an aggressive play against Foursquare and Gowalla, who have battled it out to win over the tech crowd. SCVNGR quickly locked up partnership with key teen retailers such as Journeys and most recently Hot Topic to provide challenges that tie back to exclusive merchandise. Hot Topic and SCVNGR have partnered to create various challenges that allow those who use the location-based game a chance to win Harry Potter badges, discounts on Harry Potter apparel and a chance at an exclusive Harry Potter poster. Matching game play dynamics and exclusive offerings appeal to the teen shopper and might be the solution for creating location-based adoption amongst this crowd.

Socializing the Try-on Experience: Over the past few years, teens have snapped photos in dressing rooms and sent them via SMS to their friends. Most recently, Macy's Magic Mirror allows consumers to digitally try on and then share photos of outfits with friends across social networks. Seeing that teens and students maintain larger social networks than most adults, there is a huge opportunity for retailers to develop mobile applications that make the try-on experience easier and more socially sharable.

So what else can be done to socialize and customize the brick-and-mortar experience to offer young consumers more value in the offline shopping experience? Dentsu recently created an amazing video that showcases a look into the future of the retail environment, through a potential interactive window display game. The proposed game would recognize a consumer's outfit colors and provide a fun gaming opportunity outside the retail environment to interact with the brand. Clearly, this technology is a touch ahead of its time, and potentially costly, but a welcomed glimpse into the future of retail locations.

So what digital and social success stories and trends are you seeing occurring at the local retail level that are resonating with the teen crowds? Your thoughts and any stand-out examples in the retail environment are welcome.

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