Shopping in the Digital Age

A few weeks ago, I helped a friend look for a wedding dress at the Nordstrom at Santa Monica Place, a swanky outdoor mall located in the iconic Southern California beach city. Having found a summery white dress perfect for her backyard wedding, we approached the cash register, where an enthusiastic young sales associate “rung us up” using the store’s mobile checkout pilot program.

“I’ve been waiting all day to do this,” said the young woman, excitedly pointing an iPod equipped with a plug-in device in our direction. She scanned the bar code on the tag of the dress, swiped my friend’s credit card, and emailed the receipt in addition to printing it (wirelessly) at the communal terminal in the center of the showroom.

Apple has introduced plenty of consumers to the mobile checkout, but get ready, because it’s coming soon to retailers big and small near you. By all accounts, cash ­registers will eventually be rendered obsolete—along with coins, bills, even plastic credit cards—by the onslaught of mobile payment solutions. In “Money Talks,” we provide a handy guide to this rapidly changing arena. (Hint: Check out for a glimpse of big things to come.)

But mobile payment is just one of the many cutting-edge topics shaping the retail conversation. In this, our first-ever Future of Retail issue, we help you make sense of the most important developments, from the emerging channel of Facebook commerce (“Future Shop: The Ins and Outs of Facebook Commerce”) to the life expectancy of the local mall (“For Many Retail Jewelers, It’s a Mall World After All”).

Courtesy of Santa Monica Place
Southern California’s newly renovated Santa Monica Place epitomizes the “A” level mall, drawing shoppers in an era when malls were thought to be dying.

Here’s a surprising lesson about the latter: If you own a jewelry store located in a mall that’s anywhere near as stylish as Santa Monica Place—which underwent extensive renovation last year to emerge with a custom-designed Bloomingdale’s, a bevy of A-list retailers, 10 “chef-driven restaurants,” and a rooftop dining deck with views of the Pacific Ocean just three blocks away—then, according to senior editor Rob Bates’ eye-opening story about the future of malls, you have nothing to worry about.

On that note, nor do the brick-and-mortar store owners who make up the bulk of our readership. Rather than minimizing the in-store experience, the latest technologies depend on it. In fact, it’s quite clear that the savviest retail strategies employ an artful convergence of on- and offline innovations.

According to the experts, this convergence begins with three very basic new media applications: a well-designed website that delivers top-notch content in a ­user-friendly fashion (see “Stellar Jeweler Websites to Envy and Emulate”); a compelling email marketing campaign (“You’ve Got Email!”); and a well-maintained list of ­customers’ contact information (“Customer Contact in the Information Age”).

Once you ensure that your website, your emails, and your database are running smoothly, then sit back as Google and Facebook wage their epic battle for World Wide Web domination. It’s no exaggeration to suggest the winner will determine the future of shopping. (Check back with us next September!)

P.S. The Women’s Jewelry Association Awards highlighted in Jewel Box were a testament to JCK’s embarrassment of riches. Senior editor ­Jennifer Heebner picked up the Award for Excellence in the media category, while Yancy ­Weinrich, industry vice president of JCK Events, won the award in special services. We’re so proud to have both of these talented and well-deserving women on our team!

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