Why aren’t Brick & Morter Space and Cyberspace the Same Space?

Ever since first browsing the aisles at Barnes and Noble to sample books that I was ordering from Amazon on my iPhone, I’ve wondered why retail hasn’t yet evolved from having an online presence that is separate from brick and mortar to having them sync’d together into one experience. It’s been a completely separate push from the constant work that’s done to optimize their brick and mortar locations. 

We all know that the Apple Store has done some remarkable things at retail, one of them being the ability to buy an item using your phone, pick it up and walk out the door without ever speaking to an employee. Which is great if you have the chutzpah required to actually do it … my guilty conscience would do unspeakable things to me if I ever tried.

Beyond Apple, however, it seems like retail has remained fairly stagnant and completely isolated from the Internet. Which is why I was interested to see that Neiman Marcus (of all places) is dipping it’s toes into the brick & mortar & digital waters with a mobile app that’s made to connect customers to sales associates, 24/7: 

Though online shopping has undergone multiple transformations over the past two decades, the same can not be said for brick-and-mortar retail. Shoppers are still brought in using approximately the same marketing tactics (think direct mail catalogs, window displays, seasonal sales). Product is still refreshed at the same rates and customers still line up and check out, with few exceptions, at cash registers.

Signature, a mobile app company that bills itself as the “ultimate personal shopping assistant,” is looking to reengineer the way consumers shop in stores — namely, the stores of upscale clothing retailers. The San Francisco-based startup has partnered with Neiman Marcus to develop a custom iPhone app to better facilitate communications between stores and customers.

The app, called NM Service, is currently being piloted at four Neiman Marcus locations: San Francisco, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and Neiman Marcus’s flagship store in Dallas, Texas.

It has two interfaces: one for shoppers and one for sales associates. Shoppers are able to able to browse event schedules, new arrivals and promotions. As they browse, they can favorite products and even arrange for them to be placed in a dressing room ahead of arrival, Signature CEO David Hegarty tells Mashable. They can also make appointments and leave messages for associates, and see which ones are on the floor. A built-in QR code reader lets them scan signage for trend and product information displayed in-store.

It’s a small step, but could signify the start of some very cool and very welcome changes to retail.

Also, my apologies for using the word “cyberspace” in the title of this post. 

(Via Mashable)

Want to solve a problem? Be a man and walk away.

From an article about optimizing your bathroom for creative output comes this reminder that spending all day in the office is a bad way to be good at your job:

Research on the nature of creativity suggests my experience isn’t all that unique. Often, the most effective way of solving a difficult problem is simply walking away. The moment we allow ourselves to disengage from the individual pieces of a puzzle is the moment a solution appears. It’s why Albert Einstein regularly went sailing and why Charles Darwin planned his day around a countryside stroll. Thomas Edison simply napped.

Via Fast Company

What brands can learn from the psychology of game nostalgia

Over on The Psychology of Video Games blog, Jamie Madigan lays out the case that nostalgia is tied to social connections, which makes gaming much more nostalgic than other media:

If nostalgia is tied so closely to social connections and a sense of community, games have the potential to evoke it more than any other medium, because they are so inherently social and are becoming more so every year. Early games might have been shared experiences on the couch or via playground discussions in much the same way as movies or TV, but the majority of new games coming out this year will feature mechanics or tools that encourage players to share, compete, communicate, help, and socialise. The same can’t be said of music, movies, TV, or other common vessels of nostalgia. It seems that games might someday boost more moods than anything else in history.

To me, this underscores the importance of brands learning how to serve as a node that brings people together in interesting ways, and it think misunderstanding this could be at the root of a lot of failed digital experiences. Of course, bad ideas are bad ideas, no matter how social they are intended to be.