Sunday, May 20, 2012

An exercise in mobile urban exploration

Visiting Odaiba on a mellow Sunday afternoon is always a worthwhile experience.
Since the beta-testing of our new Mobile Urban Exploration App Qyu is going really well, we figured it might be a good point in time to go for a test-run in DiverCity Tokyo, one of the newest additions to Odaiba's already impressive array of shopping centers.

The Quest : 

Understand the state of mobile urban exploration in DiverCity Tokyo.

What do I mean with mobile urban exploration?

In reality, the greatest benefit of bringing a smart-phone into a shopping center is to have a device at hand which theoretically provides an additional incentive to distinguish one brand from the other.

In other words, the more time I spend in your store the less time I spend at your competitors'.

So, how are these retail stores in this brand new shopping center in Odaiba prepared for my mobile onslaught?

Now, from the view-point of the uneducated consumer, my mission was to identify all mobile enabled services and try to proceed as far as possible to "engage".

In the DiverCity shopping complex there are more than 100 stores ranging from Zara, H&M, Old Navy, and Uniqlo to Restaurants and entertainment services like GundamFront


To break it down into numbers. From all these stores only 8 (eight) had some kind of mobile enhanced shopping experience displayed. Mostly in the form of QR-Codes. So, where did these QR-Codes lead me ?

5 times we were led to a mobile corporate website. Non-location enabled. 3/5 registration necessary.

2 times the QR-Code connected to a mail-magazine registration.
Once we connect to an App-Download site.

Overall, the experience was dreadful. Here the two worst examples: 

Theoretically, GundamFront had cool smartphone enabled game (Gunpla Search). Unfortunately, the QR-Code lead me to this wonderfully designed experience. Yes, the font is that small. 

 Whereas the DiverCity official link led me here.  


We still have a long long way to go until retail stores are actually "mobile-ready".  For the record, when I am in a shopping center, I am generally not alone and in addition, not necessarily in the mood to register at 10 different places with my smart-phone. Further, why should I tag the qr-code and visit the stores website while being in-the-store! This is the offline equivalent to "please visit our store for more information".

Overall, it was a fun and relaxing Sunday. However, retail stores are nowhere near their potential in regards to using mobile phone enhanced services to lure the customer in.

That said, playing mobile-exploration with Qyu was loads of fun. We collected a boat-load of valuable information.

Will definitely play again.

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