5 Mobile Retail Trends You Need to Be Aware of

It used to be a purse or wallet was the one must-have to go shopping, but now a mobile phone has become just as essential. Today’s mobile devices don’t just allow consumers to browse for items and make payments. They now serve as critical connection points that retailers can use – with mobile users’ opt-in – to find information on mobile context, such as consumers’ location and purchasing patterns, to provide a more personalized and satisfying experience.

I recently had a chance to offer some thoughts on this in an article for the magazine Retail Online Integration. Below is the article in full.

I invite you to take a read and let me know your thoughts. How has the mobile device changed the shopping experience for you? What shopping capabilities would you like to see enabled by your mobile phone in the near future?

 

Nearly every shopper bounces from store to store with two personal items at the ready: their wallet and mobile phone. While some traditional retailers might only focus on the first part of that equation, savvy brands must realize that the latter is of near equal importance. Here’s what I’ve learned about retailers using mobile to build brand loyalty, improve the customer experience and boost sales:

  1. Mobile is a priority for most retailers (and rightfully so). A Syniverse survey of decision makers at Fortune 1,000 retailers found that 92 percent consider mobile solutions to be “very important” or “important.” Their goals? Half of the retail respondents hope to increase revenue, while 71 percent are using mobile to improve the customer experience.
  2. A retailer’s technology choices impact its mobile reach. More than half of consumers in developed countries own a smartphone, making apps an obvious way for retailers to reach them. That said, it takes a significant investment to develop and support an app for each mobile operating system (OS). That’s why 86 percent of retail executives surveyed said they’re investing in HTML5-based services, which provide an app-like user experience on any smartphone without the need to create unique versions for each OS.
  3. Messaging remains an effective, growing way to reach consumers anywhere, anytime. Every smartphone and feature phone supports text and multimedia messaging (SMS and MMS), and most consumers are familiar with both. More than 70 percent of respondents already use messaging to attract and retain customers, and more than half use it to offer promotions and increase revenue. In spite of the advent of newer, flashier, yet siloed technology, I expect retailers to continue to use messaging because its efficacy is proven and it allows for ubiquitous reach across all phone systems, networks and models.
  4. Mobile maximizes relevance. The average person checks his or her mobile phone up to 150 times per day, according to various reports. That makes mobile phones an ideal conduit to consumer preferences for driving highly personalized offers and interactions, rather than one-size-fits-all mass marketing. Furthermore, retailers are increasingly upping the ante, giving consumers the option of taking that personalization to the next level. These services can be used for geo-marketing, in which offers are made more relevant by including location context — e.g., pushing a text offer to an opted-in customer walking near a company’s retail store. Paired with customer preference data in real time, geo-marketing is an important ingredient in optimizing the customer shopping experience via a mobile device. Compare that to mass-market ads that could have no relevance or context to that particular moment, and it’s easy to see mobile’s real-time influence.
  5. The convenience of mobile can foster loyalty and drive recurring revenue. While using mobile to offer personalized promotions is valuable, the ability to enhance the customer experience to convert a one-time buyer into a loyal customer is the real asset. A coffee shop’s mobile application is a perfect example of how mobile ingenuity can build an army of brand advocates. Customers can use the app to make purchases, track and redeem their loyalty points, and load and use gift cards. This convenience increases the likelihood that they’ll return to that shop on a regular basis.

Mobile provides retailers of all shapes and sizes, from mom-and-pop stores to multinational chains, with unique opportunities to engage consumers on an unprecedented level. Whether it’s apps, HTML5, messaging or all of the above, mobile offers retailers a wide variety of proven tools for driving loyalty and boosting revenue.

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Mary Clark is a former Chief Corporate Relations Officer and Chief of Staff at Syniverse.

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