That was the transactional part, and it was soon upgraded to allow people to scan the front of a game cover to get a description of the game and view a trailer of what it's like to play. Again, it was a transactional feature, but one that is very useful for anyone looking at a wall of game covers and wondering which one they might like. Let's face it -- it's also a very useful feature for any retailer to offer because that shopper just might be in a rival's store and then decide to watch a trailer and buy the game from you instead.
However, where things have become more interesting for me is when using the app to have some fun. You can still use it as a mobile shop, but last year there was an opportunity to scan posters for the game Halo and pose for photographs with a gamer's favourite character. Taking a selfie with your screen hero. What's not to like? Then more recently, the retailer has set up projects to turn a couple of its store front windows into giant games screens.
Passersby didn't even need to have the app -- all they needed was a mobile phone and the will to battle baddies with their light sabre (aka, handheld device). I didn't get the chance to play myself but I can imagine the kids definitely wanting to pause by a shopfront that was also a mobile game.
So it got me thinking -- why don't more brands do something truly useful and mobile with their apps? The airlines can probably sit this one out, because they generally allow a phone to be a ticket and flash up useful information about gate numbers and so on. That's pretty much all you want from an airline. But I can't think of any other mobile experience I have had through an app that was in any way changed because of my location, if I was actually mobile and not at home.
Just think about it -- almost every app you use offers no additional features or experiences if you have visited the retailer's premises. There surely has to be scope for scanning the fish counter at Waitrose and getting some recipe and ingredient details flashed up. Or maybe a button to press to order the shoes that aren't in stock at the moment at a department store. And what about some fun mixing and matching outfits on a mobile phone app, or even adding furniture to a picture of your room to see how it looks?
As you can tell, these are very much top-of-mind thoughts, but I'm just surprised that nobody offers me an app that allows me to do more in their store than on the sofa. That can't be right, can it? Proximity marketing is such a massive buzzword -- why not use the same idea to alter your customer experiences? Then the mobile phone becomes a tool that can extend the possibilities of a store, not replace it.