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What can we learn from the coolest examples of commerce innovation?


Finding creative ways to engage your customers can be the beginning of your stairway to success. However, there are now more and more ways to engage your client base thanks to a variety of platforms and marketing channels. Where once the height of an entrepreneur’s skills might see them getting an advert in the local paper or placing a note in a newsagent’s window, computers and mobile devices now mean that creative types can really go to town.

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The most creative and innovative examples of mobile and retail commerce are those that prompt the ‘why has no-one thought of this before?’ mentality. Often, they’re simple and so glaringly obvious that we kick ourselves that we didn’t get there first. Let’s have a look at some of the best.

Virtual shopping — for real

One of the most brilliantly simple yet effective ideas has come from supermarket giant Tesco. It is estimated that South Koreans have the least amount time available for shopping, compared to any other nation in the world. With over 80% of an enormous population owning smartphones, Tesco spotted a niche and filled it. Its development was to create a system via which busy customers could browse the store, using an app that allows them to enter what they’re buying before they reach the checkout.

Using QR Codes to register which items are being bought, a shopper’s list is assembled as they walk through the shop. However, it’s not a case of paying and grabbing your groceries; these lists are then processed to deliver your goods to your home at the right time. The result is that a South Korean shopper can complete their shopping in around 12 minutes, with no queuing and no waiting around while someone packs their bags.

Pay before you go

Tabbedout works on a similar principle, but is applied to a completely different area of commerce. It’s an app designed to make life easier for the customer — which is what all the best apps seem to be about. Aimed at those who go to bars, the app allows you to see what’s on your tab and pay without having to join a queue. In addition, there’s the option to split the bill amongst a number of people, so no one gets stung unfairly.

However, it’s not a one-way street; an app of this sort also gives the merchant some interesting information. Using the app, they can capture a customer’s order preferences and history and offer a personalized service. In addition, there’s the capacity to give online rewards, vouchers and offers, ensuring that the first time a client walks into a Tabbedout bar doesn’t have to be the last.

On the spot opportunities

Square has to be one of the most talked-about developments in recent years, falling into the ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ category. Essentially, the app transforms your mobile device into an on-the-spot card reader, so you can make a transaction wherever you happen to be. For entrepreneurs, this is a superb service, allowing them to turn every encounter into a potential – and instant – sale. In addition to the convenience, Square is safe and secure, only requiring that the consumer enters his or her security details to authorize the payment.

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