UX Australia 2011

A market of the senses: Digital devices in physical spaces

Bob Burns

The presentation is a study of user research performed on Best Buy’s iPhone app. The original intent of the study was to explore the effectiveness of the app’s ability to scan QR codes (two-dimensional codes) within Best Buy stores. The report produced from doing this work went far beyond what we set out to do.

Is this the future of shopping? When scanning worked it was an incredible success. Consumers loved the ability to read customer reviews, get product information and full technical specs with the item right in front of them. It was the best of both worlds, all the information of the internet and the physical object together! Access to that detailed information allows consumers to research products in real time, as they shop and engage with sales associates.

Are we ready for the future? Unfortunately the store environment is not designed for users to engage with a mobile device while shopping. Customers were not sure what to scan, manufacturer’s codes compete with those in the store. The placement of codes is not accessible for all. Overall, there was a lack of context in the store – nothing encouraged the use of one’s mobile device.

How do we fix the problems? Undoubtedly mobile devices will continue to enhance how we shop, not only accessing consumer information but with helping to navigate stores and find products. Integrating digital experiences into retail spaces is imperative for enhancing the way we shop. Mobile and store design teams need to collaborate to develop unified experiences where digital tools are easily incorporated into the retail landscape.


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Bob Burns - A market of the senses


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