Smart Basketballs & Dumb Marketing

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Feb 12 2016, Posted by Gary Lee

Somewhere this morning, the next great NBA star is analyzing yesterday’s basketball workout. He’s only 10 years old, but he can already see his make/miss percentages from the free throw line, and how many shots he took and made (and from where) beyond the three-point line etched out in chalk on his driveway. He’s meticulously studying his performance each day and working on ways to improve. And he’s doing it all by himself without a personal trainer or coach thanks to his smart basketball which records every shot.

Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the world of connected smart objects, which can be measured and help us drive results. In this example, the basketball is the new Wilson X, and they have already previewed the connected football likely in players’ hands soon. The basketball is one of the latest in smart devices, which can measure performance and report back instantly to allow for continuous improvement.

Thanks to IoT, our thermostats are now smart and able to keep us comfortable while saving energy. Wearable devices such as Fitbit, the Apple Watch and other sports / fashion accessories can track our heart-rate, activity levels and offer tips on better diet, sleep and calorie burn. Security systems and home automation systems keep us connected and secure with our house and belongings while away. And many, many more.

And it begs the question, if a basketball, thermostats and other somewhat mundane objects can be smart and connected, why can’t our in-store marketing efforts? Why can’t we measure, observe and learn what shoppers are doing, and create dynamic smart experiences to improve how we attract, engage and convert shoppers in-store?

The impact of our in-store marketing being “dumb” is huge. 91+% of all revenue still comes from brick-&-mortar retail and is worth well over $3T globally. Today, marketing teams, and the agencies which support them, continue to spend money blindly. They don’t know what’s working, and what’s not, with the only indicator of success or failure being sell-through reports which are often weeks behind actual customer activity.

Technology is capable of providing answers. We now have a myriad of choices for understanding shopper behavior, from cameras to WiFi measurement to beacon technologies. And these choices also provide varying levels of customer privacy and opt-in/opt-out concerns.

We have the opportunity to run the largest single channel—brick & mortar—as intelligently as we run the smallest channel—eCommerce. And with smart analytics, we have the potential to finally deliver on Omnichannel through an Omnimeasurement system that really understands shopper behavior online and in-store.

The entire world of thermostats, security systems, refrigerators, cars, healthcare, fitness and sports equipment is way ahead of retailers in becoming smarter and offering unique benefits to consumers.

It’s time for brick and mortar retail to get smarter. It’s time for in-store marketing to be connected and smart, and offer real-time data about shopper presence and behavior in-store, and then trigger smart, contextual experiences to those shoppers.

If an 11-year old boy can meticulously improve his basketball game using the latest in connected devices, it’s time for a $4T industry to get smart as well.

Image Copyright: lucadp / 123RF Stock Photo

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