At first there was barter. People exchanged goods and services for other goods and services. But this was bulky and inconsistent. Then came species based currency, gold, silver, silk and even seashells served as a medium of exchange. However, they were heavy and difficult to transport, maintain, and safeguard. Paper money and currency promises followed. These forms of money ran on promises and faith. Finally, we’ve entered the stage where there is so much faith that there can be no physical representation of the medium exchange, like a credit card or a wallet app. Then what’s the next step? It’s time to bridge the digital and physical world.
Lightspeed is an app that has just received 30 million in venture capital and it aims to enhance the brick and mortar shopping experience. The way it works is that sales personal carry around iPads. When a shopper comes in and wants to make a purchase, the sales rep can show them other items in the store on the iPad. This way the sales rep can show the customer a dozen different items without having to run around the store. Also, the customer can look at items that are carried by the retail, but are not currently in stock. When all browsing is concluded the app can accept payment and signatures or print/e-mail an invoice.
Will it work? Well, according to an IBM survey, 79 percent of all Canadian shoppers prefer purchasing items in a physical store. However, that same data showed that the majority of them found information online. Lightspeed seems to combine the best of both worlds. Customers get the secure feeling of being able to touch and see the item in person while being able to quickly browse and ask questions from a live sales representative. From on site IT services to clothing stores, the digital world will keep encroaching on the real one. Whether or not that is a good thing is yet to be seen.