The Digital Brick-and-Mortar Store

Olga Kharif

Illustration by Kris Mukai

Retailers that relied on impulse buys, especially along checkout lines, are struggling to keep the attention of consumers. The culprit? Smartphones. Stores are redesigning their floor spaces and product displays to take advantage of new apps designed to encourage shopping.

Relocating Promotions

Some retailers, especially in malls, are tacking up posters outside stores that passersby can scan to get coupons.


Mobile services like Foursquare track users’ locations and offer coupons or other deals at nearby businesses.

Personal Scanner

Walmart is testing an app that can speed up checkout by allowing shoppers to scan products as they deposit them in their carts.

IPad Checkout

Some retailers give staff tablets with cardreader attachments so they can check out customers anywhere in the store.

Interior GPS

Retailers use in-store location services like Meridian and IndoorAtlas to track shoppers’ paths and push coupons for nearby items.


Shopkick offers points toward gift cards for shoppers at stores like Best Buy, Macy’s, and Target.


Chains have launched their own apps offering customers gift cards in exchange for permission to share data about their purchases.

Near Field Communication

Stores with newer checkout equipment let shoppers who store credit cards on their phones pay by tapping them on registers.


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