Walmart Canada seems ready to grasp this opportunity of the always-shopping consumer by putting a buy button in an unlikely place -- a bus shelter. In partnership with Procter & Gamble, the company launched 50 “mobile stores” in Toronto. The artwork promotes specific P&G products and offers a QR code that connects the mobile user directly to Walmart’s m-commerce store for select P&G products. Shipping on these mobile store orders is free. It allows consumers to buy on the spot everything from diapers to toothpaste and mascara.
The program is a test running at 50 bus shelters in Toronto, and is sure to give both companies a better idea of how receptive people are to more explicitly mobilizing commerce at every opportunity.
It is an interesting idea. After all, how often do we try to remind ourselves of a need for the little sundries that will require
another trip to the store? By reminding people of the everyday things they need, and on-the-spot opportunities to buy them, Walmart is taking a novel approach to broadening its customer base.
Typically, the store shopper or online buyer has to make a deliberate decision to visit Walmart live or online in order to shop there. This model separates the brand from the experience. Now the ads address a broader consumer need that registers with a potential customer with or without any existing alignment with the retailer brand. This test reminds us how mobility shakes loose many traditions that made some activities and habits connected to places, times and even brand experiences.
There are unanticipated consequences and opportunities to this kind of shift. It gives some brands an opportunity to divorce themselves from old contexts and argue their relevance to a new audience. If mobility means that everyone everywhere can shop, then it also means any brand, familiar or new, anywhere can try to sell you something.