Three ways retailers can make better use of mobile

Driving e-commerce

Mobile is now the driving force behind e-commerce growth across the world and as consumers become more comfortable shopping on devices there are greater opportunity for retailers both on and offline to exploit available technology.

However, Google’s senior industry head of retail, Martijn Bertisen, feels too few are making use of the available possibilities and speaking at the recent E-commerce Expo in London says: “We’re missing out on some of the real advantages of mobile and not taking full advantage of the technology.”

Indeed, with just under half of all UK residents forecast to own smartphones by the year’s end and the average user checking their device 150 times every day, there is clearly potential for retailers to develop new was to get their message to consumers.

1. Personalisation

It’s often repeated that smartphones are hugely personal devices, kept by our sides 24/7 and carrying enormous amounts of information, smartphones offer businesses a clearer picture of individual consumers than ever before. Tracking browsing habits and purchases across multiple platforms gives companies a deeper view of customers and enables businesses to advertise products or promotions in a much more targeted manner. Retailers both on and offline can benefit enormously by taking the time to properly understand what ad will be most relevant to an individual customer.

“The days when we used to send a generic message out are gone.” Says Bertisen, “We now live in a time when we have the technology, we have the information and we have the insight to be much more targeted and much more specific to individual customers.”

2. Location

One of the hottest trends in the mobile ad space is local ads and it’s an area from which a lot of companies are trying to boost their revenue , notably check-in app Foursquare. However, for retailers, location information for GPS technology can be a powerful means of targeting consumers. “If someone is near your flagship store you’re going to want to treat them differently than someone miles away,” says Bertisen.

One retailer utilising customer’s locational data is Guatemalan shoe outlet, Meat Pack. The company’s hijack app can tell when a user enters a rival store and triggers notification of a 99% discount at Meat Pack that gradually declines. The sooner a user gets to Meat Pack the greater the discount.

As well as luring customers into stores retailers can offer more seamless customer experiences in-store using mobile technology. Retailer Hointer enables users to scan an item in the store, enter their size and then try on the same item in a designated changing room.

3. Payment

One of the most hyped area for mobile and retail to cross over is mobile payments. It’s a space where startups rub shoulders with the likes of Google, which is yet to see profit or decent traction for its digital mobile wallet. It is also a space which online payment giant PayPal is keen to get in on and will hope that its established brand name will help it get ahead of newer companies.For retailers, as well as bars or fast food restaurants, adoption of smartphone payments can benefit the customer experience by helping to cut queues.

It is well known that fewer touch points between a product and a final payment increases the likelihood of a sale and the reduced friction of mobile payments may mean greater revenues. However, the technology is relatively young, especially compared to cash, which PayPal’s sales director for the UK and Ireland, Mike Davies claims is the company’s biggest rival. Davies also outlines other ways that it will come to benefit retailers who adopt the technology and says: “loyalty will become a defining part of the mobile pay space.”

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