2017 Observations Part II — Why I Get All Ben Stiller Over Location Technology

Chris Walton and Omni Talk discuss location technology analytics and the impact they can potentially have on the design of the physical world.

Retail in the future will be nothing like we know today. Right now, retail is the equivalent of Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer, and quite soon it will become Tootsie, and we won’t no what in the hell hit us.

And, it is all due to one word — technology.

Recently I have made my love for scan-and-go mobile technology well known. Scan-and-go platforms that incorporate cloud point-of-sale technology, mobile application deployment, and digital financing within their designs open up a whole new world of retailing — a world in which a person’s mobile phone becomes a remote control for the personalized, budget expanding, consumption of the entire physical world.

Sound deep?

Good. It is. We are talking the Odessa Step Sequence in the Batthleship Potemkin deep.

Don’t believe me? Watch this video for your daily mind blow if you haven’t seen it already:

But scan-and-go technology is only one key piece of the puzzle. Scan-and-go, when combined with another technological innovation, gets me even more excited than Ben Stiller getting ready for a date in There’s Something About Mary.

That technological innovation?

Location technology.

Together location technology and scan-and-go technology bend the spoon of retail calculus.  1 + 1 begins to equal 3.

A diamond in the rough company that I happened upon at 2017 highlights exactly what I mean.

The company is called Digital Mortar. Bootstrapped by two analytics geeks, Gary Angel and Jesse Gross, Digital Mortar attempts to turn a retailer’s salesfloor, or any physical location for that matter, into the analytical equivalent of an e-commerce browser.

Quickly and with relatively inexpensive hardware, Digital Mortar helps to solve the “transactions as traffic conundrum” that is the albatross around the necks of legacy bricks-and-mortar retailers (for background see: 10 Signs from an Earnings Call that a Retailer is in Trouble).

Here’s a video I shot at to give you a visual flavor of what I am talking about:

Put simply, one big reason why e-commerce players have been eating legacy players’ lunches is that the digital world is analytically faster than the physical world.

But it no longer has to be!

Digital Mortar’s solution, along with the solutions of other players within the location analytics space, brings e-commerce funnel analytics into the physical world.

Courtesy of

Said another way, retailers, through location technology, can for the first time have a real-time financial understanding of their traffic patterns within their stores. All things being equal, they can now understand the lifetime value of a customer that shops for beauty products on a given trip, grabs a bite to eat, and goes to the restroom versus a customer who, let’s say, only shops for beauty products on a trip.

Think of the implications on physical design and architecture!


The understanding of our physical design choices gets turned upside down by virtue of a mathematical orgasm.

The “b’s” in the equation above could represent anything we want: beauty products, grocery products, restroom usage, dining usage, scan-and-go checkout free payment, checklane payment, order pick-up . . . the list goes on and on.

Do the tables begin to turn Mr. Bezos?

Courtesy of

Just imagine the possibilities if we really knew the answers to how valuable everything we have tried to do within our physical spaces actually was.

Location technology is not about the common parlance of “tracking customers.” It is the sword-in-stone that will enable retailers to design better celebrations of the physical world — the tactile and memory-inducing moments that customers crave and that cannot be simulated online on the couch at home.

If the majority of sales are still likely to happen in physical stores, then common sense would dictate that the retailers that can make their understanding of the physical faster, more dynamic, and more financially valuable than ever before will be the players that we love 10 to 20 years from now.

Are these players the same players we know today? Only time will tell.

My money is on those who bet on scan-and-go and location technology.

Be careful out there,


P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please remember to subscribe to the blog below for future updates as well as for the final parts of our Four-Part series: Shop.Org Observations.


P.P.S. Travel Note of the Week #2:  The entrepreneur/blogger hustle is not without its drawbacks. I procured an Airbnb for last week. Let’s just say, it was not in the most desirable of locations. Case in point — I now know what a domesticated, urban rooster sounds like at 6:30 AM in the morning. Oh the small things in life.

P.P.P.S. I have no affiliation with Digital Mortar. I just liked talking to Gary and Jesse. Our conversation caused me to geek out a little bit.


Chris Walton is an accomplished Senior Executive with nearly 20 years of success within the retail and retail technology industries. He is well-versed in merchandising, store operations, inventory management, product design, forecasting, e-commerce, pricing and promotions, and tech product development.

Chris was most recently a Vice President with Target, where he led the retailer’s Store of the Future project and also ran the Target’s home furnishing division for e-commerce. He previously worked for GAP, Inc., as a Distribution Analyst and Manager.

Chris holds a BA in Economics and History from Stanford University, and a MBA from Harvard Business School.

He likes to dress as Darth Vader for Halloween, and his wife also frequently asks him to ask Alexa, "to turn off the music."

    Leave a Reply

    Subscribe to OmniTalk

    Subscribe today for unlimited access to all of our videos, podcasts, interviews and behind-the-scenes content.

    Thanks for subscribing!