This article by Bambi Francisco reminded me of a keynote presentation by Jeff Bezos that I was fortunate enough to attend last year. Jeff keynoted Shop.org’s first Multichannel Executive Symposium, co-hosted with McKinsey & Company. As a Shop.org Board member, I was proud that Jeff accepted our invitation to present, and this year’s event (being held next week in San Francisco) will be even better.

As a brief one-minute comment while answering an attendee’s question, Jeff talked about the future of always-connected camera phones. When camera phones offer 3.5-megapixel resolution, he said, the world of physical shopping becomes very interesting. This is because 3.5-megapixel resolution enables you to accurately read a product barcode right off the box.

With an always-on mobile device, you would be able to price compare, read product ratings and reviews, and even get product accessory information from local stores in your nearby area while you are physically shopping in that store. Well, this was like a lightning rod to me, while Jeff casually moved on to the next subject.

Talk about turning the physical shopping environment on its head.And then I read this article in Wired about Sky Dayton’s new startup, Helio. I was surprised to read that many camera phones in South Korea already offer 8-megapixel resolution (they also receive live satellite TV and cost $700).

So, in just a few years, probably 3-4 conservatively, the physical retail world in the U.S. will clash with the online retail world in a fundamentally disruptive way. Some would say that is happening already.

In either case, I believe that customer ratings and reviews become even more important in an environment like this. I also believe that differentiated service, great product, really listening to your customers, collaborating more closely with your suppliers, and word of mouth marketing become even more important in this environment. It is right around the corner…

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