The internet is the consumer’s best friend. It has brought us the power of comparison. That might not be the power you’d want if you were challenged by Superman to an arm wrestle. Also, if I order the same dish as someone else at a restaurant I can’t help but take a look at their plate just to check that my steak (I always order steak) isn’t smaller than theirs. So in that instance the power of comparison just reinforces my perception that I am usually unlucky when it comes to being dished up the small steak with the apologetic looking green beans on the side.
In the hunt for the bargain though, the power of comparison is the power you want. The ability to take a product and quickly and easily find out who is selling it at the best price is pretty nifty. Especially when it doesn’t matter that the seller is the other side of the world and not in your local high street (unless you care about the ozone layer, that is). So, you’d think the onset on new technology is going to bring more and more bargains for us consumers. But, putting on my futurologist hat, I don’t think that we’ll be the sole beneficiaries of new technology developments.
Take geolocation, that clever piece of technology that passes on your physical location to the websites you interact with. That has got to be great for us consumers doesn’t it? Vouchercloud is a great example of where the addition of geolocation makes for more useful offers. If I am looking for a deal on restaurants then it makes sense for those deals to be on restaurants (that sell great steak presumably) where I might go and eat at and therefore if they are on the other side of the world it does matter.
So geolocation is going to be great for us consumers then… Unless of course the people that are selling to us aren’t complete idiots and can also cotton on to the advantages of geolocation and other clever little technologies.
If I was a restaurateur I’d be wondering how best to get people through the door at Greatsteaks (got to work on that name!) and I might try a little offer. Now, the easiest thing would be for me to come up with a nice and simple offer. Something like ‘Enjoy steaks, great! Dine before eight and enjoy a free glass of wine.’ (got to work on that too).
My offer might entice a few people through the door, but it’s going to cost me wine in the process. So, what if I used geolocation and other clever internet technologies, could I get smarter and use a little intelligence so that I was able to offer as little as possible and still get the same results?
If it’s 7pm and I know the person is in the vicinity of my restaurant (on their iPhone) and I’ve only got a couple of spare tables available then I might not be so interested in enticing someone through my doors at a cost to me. If I know a customer has been to Greatsteaks before and they didn’t have any more drink than the free glass of wine I gave them (the tight gits!) then do I want to make a future offer to them? If I know that ‘Pieceapizza’ has recently stopped his offer of free desert then do I need to be as generous with my offers?
Sellers are becoming more savvy and in doing so are able to offer smarter offers, which aren’t necessarily better offers for us the punters. The technology which is currently getting us great deals is also giving the seller a better insight into us, the customer, and what they can get away with and still get our business.
So, on the downside, I predict that these technologies will result in a shift back towards the seller online. On the upside though, I think there might be a bit of mileage in Greatsteaks!