a week in wireless

A Week In Wireless – Mobile munchies

The Informer was delighted to make the acquaintance of a new app this week: Just Eat. While takeaway apps are not so new, the Informer had previously been stuck in the stone-aged ‘look at printed menu then phone in your order’ era, for which he is utterly ashamed.

There is something very personal about the first time you discover a new piece of convenience enabled by the smartphone that is hard to articulate. Merely knowing there was yet another way of ordering a takeaway was never that exciting as a concept, but when faced with the sheer food purchasing power served up by using Just Eat the potential of it made the Informer giddy.

It’s the ease of it all, you see. While ordering in food is easier than cooking it yourself, the impulsive ease with which it can be done via an app serves to highlight what a massive chore picking up the phone and speaking to someone with potentially rudimentary social skills really was.

The search and filter tools available mean no cuisine, however niche (who knew there was such a thing as an English takeaway?) is denied the peckish punter and standardised, easy to navigate touchscreen menus ensure minimal thumb fatigue. The only thing that might improve it further would be the ability to directly trade redundant cooking equipment for lovely hot grub.

Of course event developments such as this are old hat already and the technology industry continues to innovate. The natural progression from making it possible to buy things on your phone is making that process easier. The lower the barriers to making an impulse purchase, the more likely people are to spend, goes the mobile commerce thinking and, frankly, something needed to be done about laborious process of waving your thumb around a touchscreen that mobile shoppers were having to endure.

As you would expect Amazon has been at the forefront of these efforts. Not so much through the abortive Fire Phone, which Amazon continues to discount, having already written of the value of much of its stock (currently available for just £99), but through other clever ways of getting us to splash the cash.

The latest concerns Echo, an always-on voice interface device that, like a neglected dog, constantly listens for you to utter the magic words (Alexa or Amazon) in order to activate a world of speech recognition fun. Initially it was positioned as yet another Siri-like personal assistant and it seemed Amazon hadn’t learned the lessons of trying to take Apple and Google on at their own game, but now the underlying cunning plan has been revealed.

As Slashgear reports, the conspicuously lacking feature at launch was anything explicitly to do with shopping, but that has now been remedied and with a twist.  After waking the loyal Echo with the magic world you can now just say, for example, “reorder Fire Phone” and it will duplicate your previous purchase of said item.

Mobile is also at the cutting edge of marketing, with the ability to target promotions ever more precisely than before highly desirable to marketers trying to catch the attention of consumers bombarded by spam, auto-diallers and chuggers.

The Informer was delighted to see one of his favourite brands of beer – Budweiser Budvar – has teamed up with mobile marketing outfit Shopitize to further incentivise its consumption. The trick in this case involved submitting a photo of the receipt from a bottle of Budvar in order to claim some money back. For Budvar itself, this allowed the creation of a mailing list of punters that are likely to be receptive to further beer-related promotions.

But the crowning recent innovation in mobile impulse purchasing has to be from pizza chain Dominos, which is now taking orders via Twitter. Not only that but you don’t even need to go to the trouble of writing “pizza” as you can now procure grub from them by merely tweeting a pizza emoji to @dominos. “It’s the epitome of convenience,” Dominos CEO Patrick Doyle told USA Today. “We’ve got this down to a five-second exchange.” Genius.

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