If you are a shopper of North Face stores in the US then you can now use their iphone app. This allows you to scan the barcode of products in store to receive real time information on sizing and colours in stock. This makes sense; rather than having to find a staff member and ask them to look, which is often inefficient, this instantly lets you know what is available. Early adoption by companies such as The North Face is a big leap of faith but the vast improvement it can offer customers in their shopping experience is likely to pay dividends. Shoppers, as humans, tend to take the path of least resistance so anything to make it easier is going to drive sales.
The only issue with this scheme is how specific it is. Firstly it only works North Face stores, perfect if that is where you always shop but if you are just popping in it will take longer to download the app and scan the barcode than simply asking the staff. This could be a big problem with adoption. Secondly it is only available for iPhone, with the widespread use of android this instantly wipes out a large portion of the smart phone market. (check out our mobile SDK though… it includes iphone AND android at no extra cost!)
Therefore long term maybe we will see retailers setting a standard for such a system, so that a single application may service an entire shopping centre or even every large retailer across a country.