Mobile World Congress 2018

In many ways, this year’s Mobile World Congress was an evolution, not a revolution, but none-the-less the show provided a very important peak into the not-too-distant future of mobile experiences and connectivity. Here are a few of the highlights:

5G:  Like the past couple of years MWC was highly focused on what a 5G future will look like. The promise of an ultra-fast and reliable mobile network like 5G is easier to envision when you consider that 5G is estimated to be more than 10X faster than current 4G networks. In essence, that means consumers will be able to download a full-length HD movie in less than a minute. More importantly, it means that all of the technology advances we are currently being promised like smart cities, autonomous vehicle fleets, IOT, OTT 4k / 8k video services, and rich AR/VR experiences will find a home beyond WIFI, and that is critically important if we are to move a distributed experience society.  The big news in 5G is that we now have dates for its gradual rollout. Sprint announced that it will be bringing 5G networks to six cities (Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston) by April, and T-Mobile announced that it will begin building out 5G across 30 cities this year.

AI:  Artificial Intelligence is the buzzword that can’t quit giving and that was rather evident at MWC 2018. Still, there is some truth in the marketing spin around AI, even on the trade floor. The latest Samsung flagship smartphones (the S9 and S9 Plus) were revealed and were built with AI in mind, quite literally. Samsung’s virtual assistant – Bixby – is integrated tightly into the phone and allows for image recognition, translation, and is much more useful than the first edition of Bixby. New chips from Qualcomm and others were built to allow for AI processing and most manufacturers touted some kind of AI support. The real test of AI, beyond the spin, will be if computers can get smarter and faster in delivering seamless, personalized experiences to the consumers. If they are, then what we saw at MWC will live up to its hype….

Time will tell.

Other tidbits:  Oath announced AR ad formats, bezels on your smartphone are disappearing for good, Nokia re-released the banana phone, Android Go gained steam and there was a human-sized autonomous drone on display at Innovation City. The future is look faster and smarter than ever before.

 

Author: Joe Scartz | TPN Chief Digital Commerce Officer

Amazon Go Is A Game Changer

We have seen time and time again that convenience is king. A frictionless shopping experience will allow many customers to get their grocery shopping done quickly, and efficiently. There is no need to wait in line to check out. No need to pay at the register. This is a long overdue break-through innovation that will give Amazon a competitive edge in the grocery space.

 

Not only does the promise of convenience drive a competitive advantage for Amazon in the grocery space, but through technology, Amazon is able to drive efficiencies and, in return, reduce cost of operations in running a grocery store.

 

Business Model Advantage

Amazon is going to have the ability to apply their customer-centric methodology to the grocery space by driving convenience and lowering costs to the consumer.

 

Amazon will save money with their Computer Vision, Algorithm, and sensor fusion technology. Through Amazon’s Computer Vision, a customer will be able to take what they want off of the shelf, and it will be added into their virtual shopping cart. If a customer decides they do not want a certain product, they only have to place the item back on the shelf in order to have it removed from their virtual basket so they do not get charged for the item. This will save Amazon employee costs because they will not need their stores loaded with people restocking all the items that people leave in random spots of the store before checkout.

 

Second, shrinkage due to theft will become a thing of the past. Billions of dollars a year are lost due to theft in the retail space. With Amazon’s technology, theft will be a thing of the past.  Allowing computer to manage the virtual cart eliminates human interaction, which, in this case, eliminates theft.

 

Third, checkout will be an unnecessary expense for Amazon since the checkout process will take place in the shopper’s pocket automatically on their mobile phone. This will also reduce the number of employees, which will result in lower overhead for Amazon Go.

 

Finally, and most importantly, is the Amazon shopping algorithm. Amazon knows more about its customers through shopping behavior than most people can imagine. Amazon has the ability to learn from its customers within a geographic location to ensure that the right type of inventory will actually be available for purchase. What does this mean?  This means that Amazon can expect to see revenues of a football-field sized Walmart with a physical brick and mortar footprint the size of your local convenience store!

 

All in all, this is huge and I am optimistic that this will put pressure on existing grocery chains to “step up their game” in technology and convenience in order to compete with Amazon in this space.

 

The good news for grocery consumers will be that we can all expect huge improvements across the board in multiple chain grocery stores and improved pricing as others shift to compete with Amazon Go.

It’s All In The Delivery

The ways we eat meals continuously evolve as our lifestyles, social dynamics and workloads change. The frozen TV dinner changed the landscape of meals in the 1950s, streamlining meal prep with readily portioned trays that could be popped in the oven for easy weeknight meals. Tupperware enabled make-ahead meal prep possible, as well as proper storage of leftovers for reheating later. The mainstream introduction of the microwave in the 1980s, lead to more adaptations of ready-to-eat meals (and of course, the HotPocket).

Take out and delivery used to only be synonymous with pizza and Chinese food; fast food was burgers and fries (itself an evolution from street food vendors and bar food). Now we have apps that will coordinate pick up and delivery from just about any restaurant you could possibly want, at the touch of your finger tips; we gleefully hunt down specialty food trucks or trek down to the food truck lot, serving as our modern day, anywhere food court. Our busy schedules may not even lend themselves for meals, which has lead to a rise in snacking, a whole different conversation but one that I wanted to at least acknowledge.

So, while all this should beg the question Does anyone really cook anymore? Quite a contrary movement has taken place. Instead, there is appreciation for the home-cooked meal. The traditional route still involves grocery shopping for items needed for recipes, cooking the recipes at home; the routine is broken up by inspiration found on recipe sites, blogs, Pinterest and those droolworthy videos popping up in your feed that make all cooking look easy. According to Joe Scartz, TPN’s Managing Director of Digital Commerce and Integration, “Grocers have seen the trend move toward simple prepared meals now for years and they have tried to fight back with white label brands and grab and go meals.”

Retailers are also offering up opportunities to streamline the traditional process through omni-channel retailing of buy online, pick up in store: Walmart grocery is available in limited areas; CVS is testing CVS Express for a rollout later in 2016; Harris Teeter Express Lane has been around for awhile, also offering home delivery; Ahold’s Peapod is a online grocery service delivering orders and providing them for pickup; Amazon Prime Pantry is gaining speed as well, just to name a few. Inspiration becoming a final product precipitates social sharing of successes or pride in fails.

Meal delivery services, for those who can afford it, offer an alternate route with the modern convenience of having everything you need boxed up for you, ready to assemble/cook, so you can post it to your social media, aka humble brag “I made this.” What was once relegated to weight loss programs like Jenny Craig, these meal services now embolden people to be their own top chefs in the kitchen, with recipes that range from updated American traditions to ethnic fusions with unusual ingredients, previously found only in restaurants. The types of services available seem to only be limited by an entrepreneur’s imagination: local farm-to-table services, gluten-free services, food allergy services, high-end, unique services, etc.

A natural fit for its brand, Weight Watchers has partnered with meal service Chef’d to provide points-approved options that work well with their diet plan. Blue Apron has taken the lead of the services, with a somewhat customize-able recipe offering and subscriptions with meals for 2 and larger families as well; their price range is roughly $60 to $140 per week, depending on the number of meals delivered. Blue Apron also offers wine solutions as well, to partner with the meals. The convenience takes away all guess work and is winning with folks who alternatively, ate out or brought home meals on a regular basis.

We’re seeing how retailers are adapting to our ever changing foodie landscape, what can brands do to adapt? “Brands should be doing more to partner with the home delivery meal services if they want to attract this type of consumer. That being said, while consumers “barely” have to go to the store, 97ish% of all of grocery shopping is still done in-stores of various formats. It’s one of the slower ecommerce categories to catch on but that is changing, slowly,” says Scartz. To that point, “Brands need to worry less about the fresh food meal delivery service and need to worry more about being shut out of impulse purchase as grocery ecommerce does grow. For example, once a consumer creates a list for Amazon.com, they are apt to reorder the same products. Same goes for Instacart or Peapod or whatever. Brands need to market and merchandise on those platforms with an eye toward subscription, especially as omni-channel retailing becomes more the norm.”

The Topline: Mobile FirstLook Summit

As mobile devices continue to capture both a greater percentage of sales and consumer’s daily attention, it is critical for brands to continue their investment in mobile.

At last month’s Mobile Firstlook conference, leaders in the digital and mobile space shared their views on mobile strategy, case studies, key learnings, results and their evolving approach within their organizations. The message was clear – mobile is the future – but brands need to continue the journey of defining, implementing and refining their mobile strategies. Here are some of the top take-aways from the day.

 

LET THE PHYSICAL WORLD INFLUENCE THE DIGITAL

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Tom Daly, Global Group Director for Coca Cola, shared his prediction that the companies who are able to optimize and find linkages between mobile advertising + location + beacons + payments, will be the most successful moving forward. The ideal solution is to use the physical world to influence the digital world while creating a path that seamlessly leads to a transaction. For example, a brand can leverage mobile ads that drive to specific retail spaces, then use beacon technology to deliver a contextually relevant and timely message to drive purchase. The growth in mobile payments can then enable a frictionless purchase experience within the retail. The challenge is for brands to leverage their owned and borrowed assets to create this linkage and optimize their own mobile experiences.

 

 

HAVE AN APP + STRATEGY

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According to Julie Ask, VP and Principal Analyst at Forester Research, your app ins’t going to be enough to win in mobile – you need an App + strategy. The average person looks at their mobile devices between 150-200 times a day (better known as mobile moments), and spends about 78% of those moments within apps. However, only 12 categories of apps make up over 72% of those mobile moments. Retail, banking, and travel apps combined only make up approximately 12% of mobile moments. So, in order to increase your count of mobile moments within daily lives, you must incorporate additional solutions to complement your app – an a App + strategy. Some key examples of App + Strategies are :

  • App + Omnichannel – making an app invaluable across multiple use cases, e.g. Delta Airlines app allows you to book flights, contact customer service, and board your flight
  • App + Messaging – using notifications and badges to deliver relevant content to consumers without requiring them open then app is a way to create value and incremental mobile moments.
  • App + Fragments – integrating disparate apps or services to create consumer value, e.g. ordering Domino’s pizza from Twitter or ordering an Uber from the United Airlines app.

 

 

APP DESIGN TIPS – A RULE OF THUMB

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Extremely intriguing were the key learnings and approaches to app design shared by HSN and Overstock. Mobile users are task oriented and will leave an app if they are unable to complete their task within :30. Here a few tips and best practices to implement in your mobile strategy:

  • Place the most used features of your app within ergonomic zones of the device. Most people use a single hand to navigate mobile devices and as phones tend to get larger, it’s more important to place the most popular features where they are accessible by a single hand.
  • Don’t forget to make use of swiping gestures to improve the usability and speed. Swiping features can enable a broad list of other features, rather then just “delete”.
  • Make it easy on your user by making tap targets extra large so users don’t need to try multiple times to trigger an in-app object.
  • Lastly, forms are the enemy of mobile; reduce the number of individual form fields to help optimize the user flow or use third-party verification tools such as Facebook Connect or Apple Pay to pre-fill consumer information.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

There was a lot of discussion on whether “responsive design was dead”. While better than the alternative of “unresponsive design”, responsive cannot be the end to your mobile strategy. Let the creative and marketing idea drive the form. Mobile for mobile’s sake won’t help achieve results; rather look at the insights and mobile behaviors of your audience and develop an intentional mobile strategy.

– Christa and John

Toshiba celebrates women in tech: Inspiring the next generation of retail

At the inaugural Toshiba RISE – Retail Innovation & Shopper Expertise – Symposium, business and industry leaders gathered to celebrate inspirational women in digital and retail technology.

Brands have to evolve from short-term, legacy thinking and take bold steps to bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds to connect with today’s customers.

This was the consensus of the one-day symposium on January 16, 2016, in New York City that focused on the challenges facing the retail industry and the wave of rapid advances across technologies that are changing all aspects of the shopper experience. The research, tips, insights and jokes flew through the air and landed in the ears of marketers and retail experts, as well as Toshiba representatives visiting from Japan. The discussions and noteworthy female keynote speakers were relevant, thought provoking and sharp – it was all one could do not to marvel at the brilliant minds (women and men, of course) gathered together in one room.

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The following panel sessions and fireside chats spanned various topics, and turned into healthy, sometimes lively, conversations, each of which could’ve carried on much longer than the time allowed:

  • Bridging the Gap Between Digital and Physical Worlds for Consumer Connection
  • Inside the C-Suite: A look behind the curtain at current business challenges and decision making processes
  • Post Holiday 2015 Retail Recap, Asia and 2016 Retail Outlook
  • How Data and Communications are the Real Drivers Behind Successful Innovation and Customer Experience
  • At the Intersection of Health, Wellness and Shopper Experience
  • Disruptors and How They Are Shaping the Future of Retail
  • Female Founders Starting Up
  • Good Business is Doing Good

 

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Here’s what we learned and our top key takeaways from the day:

The new currency is data.

  • Collect customer data and preferences and act on customers’ purchase history to tailor shopping experiences over time. Allow shoppers to quickly discover and buy products anywhere they encounter them.
  • There are lots of silos in traditional retailing – share the data and close the loop to include operations to make the retail execution work.
  • Watch out: One person may behave differently depending on mission. We don’t want to get so prescriptive that we’re denying the customer an authentic experience (i.e., don’t put them in a box with predictive analytics).

 

Personalize the retail experience.

  • Smartphones are equalizers for emerging and established brands to disrupt the market. Connect with the customer on an emotional level and add value so it’s more than a superficial offering. But sometimes we get blinded by the shiny tools around us – take a deep breath, stay calm and focus on the customer.
  • Let’s not forget the importance of sales staff, a.k.a. the frontlines of your brand. If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your customers. Build loyalty and passion within your company by enabling one-on-one relationships between customers and staff and provide selling tools that empower staff to act on the preferences of shoppers to deliver more personalized service and experiences.

 

rise3Respect the “New Independents.”

  • Most Americans are single, and they’re changing the economy. For the first time in U.S. history, over 50% of the population is single.
  • Sharon Love, CEO of TPN, enlightened the room, referring to the “single American” demographic as a new opportunity, appealing to an untapped buying power. Being a single consumer means more spending in self-rewarding categories; celebrating, shopping, going out and staying home (think Oprah and less Bridget Jones).
  • Marketing should reflect the changing dynamic of the modern American family; i.e., single parents, same-sex parents and families of friends (e.g., Sprint’s “Framily” campaign).

 

How can we drive future innovation?

  • rise4Don’t let legacy thinking and processes hold you back. Completely rethink the problem to drive real innovation rather than incremental improvements.
  • Create diverse teams. Keynote speaker Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, had an “a-ha” life moment: The power of diversity is diversity. Based on her extensive experience working on Wall Street, Sallie shared the benefits of breaking free frm a group think mentality and building strong teams through diversity of thought, personality, gender, age, etc.
  • The balance between bricks and clicks. Customers want frictionless experiences, from mobile to in-store to online to everything-in-between. Traditionally, the shopper journey to purchase is linear; however, today’s customer no longer goes shopping – they are always shopping.

 

At the end of the day, we left feeling full to the brim with inspiring information and excited by all of the intelligent, insightful female voices we got to hear from. Whether in-store or on-line, retail continues to be an exciting, personal, effective frontier by which we can engage with consumers.

 

For more on the “New Independents,” check out:

http://www.tpnwhitepapers.com

http://crresearch.com/blog/new-independents

 

The Four Slides You Need to Know: EMERGE Partner SM(ART) Conference

 

Last month a few of us from TPN had the chance to attend an all Omnicom agency summit called Emerge: Partner Sm(art).  Emerge focused on digital trends and creating more impactful marketing programs through partnerships with industry thought leaders like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce, Vice and Yahoo!.  Knowing it’s hard to get away from the desk for two days, I wanted to share a few key themes from those presentations (spoiler alert, mobile is a key focus).  So here are The Four Slides You Need to Know.

 

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Mobile, mobile, mobile.

There is a seismic shift towards Mobile driven by the rapid adoption of smartphones. As smartphone penetration continues to rise, so will the percentage of the population that is “mobile dominant” or “mobile first”. While only 18% of smart phone users are “mobile dominant” currently, that percentage is estimated to grow to over 70% within the next five years.

 

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Rise of the “Phablet”

Engagement time grows with screen size. This means mobile engagement time is on the rise since Phablets (phone + tablet, think iPhone 6+) experienced a +148% growth in usage.  Phablets in many cases are replacing what we traditionally used tablets for, with full size tablets decreasing by -20%. The rise of the Phablet creates opportunities for richer, more engaging mobile experiences.

 

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Mobile is the Platform, Video is the Medium.

Digital video consumption is on the rise.  18-64 year old Americans doubled their digital video habits while Facebook and Instagram alone saw a 75% growth year over year in video consumption, growing to over 3 billion video views per day.  Mobile is making a big impact; of those 3B video views per day on Facebook and Instagram, an astounding 65% came from mobile.  Part of digital video consumption’s growth is driven by the growth of Over the Top Television (OTT) – services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, or HBO Go.  OTT has given more control and customization to consumers while also allowing for a connected experience across multiple internet enabled devices.

 

 

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Apps on Apps on Apps

Mobile apps are where we tend to spend the majority of our mobile time.  For app creators, getting on the device seems like the holy grail but staying on it may be equally as hard, as new app downloads are in part driven by replacement.  While 53% of new app downloads are motivated by a need for a specific task, 49% are to replace an existing app.  Of those replacing apps, 34% say they replace apps weekly and 52% replace them monthly.

 

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Imitation Game

This morning I hopped out of an Uber, almost jogged into my office building while texting one of my colleagues, and realized I needed coffee. Luckily I am not a coffee snob, so my caffeine need was solved by hitting the Kuerig button on my way through the office kitchen.

Six hours and many meetings later., I realized how a part of the “the convenience effect” I am. (I’m sure someone has come up with a better name for this). Of course, the efficiency of my morning routine is highly dependent on technological shortcuts. Instead of walking down the hall to ask a colleague a question face to face, I pick up the phone or even send a text. My stomach starts growling and I order delivery from my desk. I need to meet with an associate in LA, we Skype instead of flying across the country. All those choices made my day easier and faster… but did they make it better?

Instead of coming up with fresh, new ideas or stimulating conversations, we’re taking short cuts and imitating others. Social sharing, while great for a thousand reasons, has led to imitation and sameness—in dress, décor, behavior and communications. We walk the home goods aisle of TJ Maxx’, to find 10 different incarnations of the once iconic and classic Mason jar. We hear someone use a new phrase, then find ourselves repeating it hours later, even if it’s a made-up word.

Are we all turning into a culture of lemmings without original thoughts and ideas? Are we OK with always taking a page from someone else’s book? Has convenience driven us not to need to think for ourselves? Ok, this might sound a bit dramatic but it is on my mind. Think about the latest “convenience” from Amazon, Dash. You just press a button next to your coffee maker or washing machine and presto! More coffee or laundry detergent is delivered the next day. If you are the coffee or detergent brand on ‘speed dial’, good for you. But it might be there were new, better choices for the shopper but the choice was already made. There are no steps involved. Some in the media are rightfully raising the question—is our need for speed and convenience making us lazier and keeping us from having to think? Is taking steps out of daily tasks going to lead to the futuristic world illustrated in the movie, “WALL-E”?

At TPN, “Reimagine Retail” is the promise we deliver to our clients. That means we have to hold ourselves to thinking uniquely, not just taking a current idea and making it better. (DASH might be one of those unique ideas that changes the face of retail, my jury is still out). We have to innovate thought and process. We create, invent, dissect, and then think again in a new and different way. The outcomes can be surprising and they are always fresh.

It’s Been a Mad March 2015, Baby!

As 2015 March Madness draws to close tonight with the championship game facing off Duke and Wisconsin, we’ve seen pretty much all brackets busted, gametime excitement around the players, the underdogs and the upsets, and more promotions than swooshes of the basketball. With that in mind, let’s take at a look at how some of the NCAA partnership brands got into the action this year.

Burger King’s 2 for $5 with Seth Davis and Kenny Smith

On the heels of its Watch Like A King 2014 campaign, NCAA Corporate Sponsor Burger King is back with a value bundle, two premium sandwiches for $5. Guests can mix and match their favorite premium sandwiches including the new Spicy Big Fish Sandwich, BIG KING Sandwich, Big Fish Sandwich, Original Chicken Sandwich and the YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich all for $5. The value play is getting buzz thanks to supportive TV spots with sports analysts Seth Davis and Kenny Smith. Nothing like bringing in the experts to add some authenticity to the messaging. Word is Burger King will also be part of the experience at the 2015 Final Four by bringing fans autograph opportunities with sports legends, along with free rides in Burger King-branded cars.

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Put REESE’S In Your Starting Lineup

REESE’S is at it again this year, keeping it’s perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate top of mind with shoppers, with its Put Reese’s In Your Starting Lineup! Facebook promotion. This simple, but engaging promotion, encourages you to create a lineup of your favorite REESE’S candies for a chance to win free product. REESE’S is highly engaged with the NCAA as a corporate sponsor and incredibly visible throughout the tournament with advertising and brand highlights. The brand has also taken to social media to keep engagement going as the excitement of the tournament builds. In addition to presence at the Final Four Friday, REESE’S is a sponsor of the NCAA College All-Star game, which took place Final Four weekend and aired April 5 on CBS. Through its GoReeses.com, REESE’S has created a hub for gameday recipes and its NCAA promotions.

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REESE’S SnackTalk at WalMart

As part of its retailer specific executions this year, REESE’S brought the Snack Talk to Walmart, encouraging REESE’s fans to submit photos of their favorite REESE’s game day recipes during March, with finalists announced at the REESE’S NCAA College All-Star game this past weekend. Viewers were encouraged to vote via Twitter for their favorite to be crowned the winner. Erin @DelightfulEMade was deemed the REESE’s Snack Talk Champion and got to have her recipe featured on air.

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Buffalo Wild Wings #WingWisdom

As the Official Hangout of March Madness, Buffalo Wild Wings debuted its #WingWisdom with a fully-integrated campaign across television, social, digital, in-store and on-site Final Four experiences. From ads starring Steve Rannazzisi (“The League”) to “Basketball Wisdom” studio segments on CBS Sports and TBS Sports to an online Tournament Tracker to engaging in conversations about the tournament and providing shareable invites via social media, Buffalo Wild Wings’s omnichannel approach was keeping its brand top of mind with consumers in a sea of restaurants vying for share. In particular, the brand kept the engagement alive with fans by encouraging them to compete for “B-Dubs Baller” status in restaurant with skill-based games and bracket challenges — guests who participated could compete for over 1000 prizes, including a trip to next year’s Final Four.

Payment is All in the Wrist at Austin City Limits 2014

The Austin City Limits (ACL) Festival in Texas always brings with it plenty of fanfare for the bands, the food, and the atmosphere, but this year’s festival brought a new experience into the mix, using my wrist as a wallet. The wrist band is commonplace for multi-day music festivals — my husband Brent and I have been going to ACL since 2005, when they still used flimsy paper wrist bands (that could be easily removed, passed around people for attending different days). Last year, the festival broke into a 2 weekend format and also introduced the registered wristband, which you used to get into ACL and could check-in at places throughout the festival.

This year, the fob on your wristband not only identified you as the ticket holder, but you could also designate a credit card for purchases. In all my years of going to ACL, this little improvement was one I couldn’t have been more thrilled about because it meant 3 things: 1. Not having to rely on the piddly 2 ATMs they drag out to the park for cash in case you run out, 2. The lines for food and beverages should fly by since you aren’t having to wait on folks to dig their cards or their cash out of whatever bookbag, purse or pocket, and 3. You couldn’t lose your money because it’d be attached to your wrist. (Though it’s never happened to me, I have no doubt in the sea of people, it’s easy for a wallet to get misplaced or for it to meet an unfortunate end during a porta-potty visit.)

The skeptic in me couldn’t help but be hesitant about the actual execution, but was thrilled with the prospects. Before we left, we registered our wristbands online, linked a credit card and created a PIN number. Easy peasy. (There was also a tent at the festival with dedicated helpers that could get your credit card linked on site)

Sure enough, at Weekend 1 (October 3—5), the wristbands worked like a charm. We used them to buy t-shirts, beverages, food and other souvenirs throughout the festival grounds — watch the video above to see just how simple the process was. The cashier selects your items ordered on a touch screen, you hold your wrist fob over a designated area until it’s read, the cashier flips the screen over so you can enter your PIN, add a tip if so desired, and that’s it; a receipt of purchase is emailed to the address on your account. Done and done.

This particular system is powered by Best Ring POS, which is a web-based mobile POS company based out of Austin, TX. Though the interface is designed for bar and food, it worked perfectly for purchasing non-food items. However, it does not include a method for returning items; luckily, the ACL staff had an easy solve for it for the time being, cash. While not ideal for tracking inventory levels and all that, for a 3-Day festival, the inventory levels are going to be what they are until you sell out of an item. Only once did the wristband system fail while we were purchasing food and that seemed to be a rarity among our friends who used the system, too.

Overall, I absolutely loved using just the tap of my wrist to make purchases and this particular method is just one of many in the emerging field of virtual wallets. From Apple’s iPay Mobile (mobile device via cloud as wallet) to Coin and Plastc (one card to contain all your cards) and everything in between. The overall benefits to brands and retailers are huge because it’s so easy to forget that you are spending real money, your money, making that hurdle of building the basket not quite so high.

However, I do have concerns. Given that now when I accidentally leave my phone on the nightstand instead of putting it in my purse or pocket, I feel like an appendage is missing, I can only imagine what kind of convulsions I might have if it were my only wallet and I left it at home, or even worse, lost it. So, I have mixed feelings about my wallet solely living on my mobile device, however I think it would be great to have in the mix of options. As smart technologies for watches become smarter and smarter, I have no doubt we’ll see a full day-to-day integrated wrist wearables and the possibilities of what they could encompass are endless. Think corporate key cards, car keys and even house keys, giving the old metal ones a heave ho! Public transportation paid with a flick of the wrist. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s all around the corner and I can’t wait.