M-Retailing

Rethinking your thinking

One of the most surprising findings in our IRUK Top 500 research was the paucity of mobile ‘topness’ among UK retailers. Our research found that only 169 of the top 500 retailers in the UK have an app and just 93 of those are transactional. Surely an aberration, I thought. I thought that apps were only a small part of the story.

I was wrong. Separate research from Dyn suggests that it’s a universal problem with mobile – and omni-channel – retailing. Dyn finds that 40% of UK shopper think mobile shopping is nowhere near as good as it should be.

This is really alarming. The IRUK Top 500 study looked only at apps, but this seems to be a very good bellweather of retailers overall mobile strategy: most don’t have one that works.

This is going to be one of the key themes to emerge at Internet Retailing Expo (IRX15) at the Birmingham NEC next month. Previous events we have seen a lot of talk about how retailers need to look at mobile. This year we are going to see calls for retailers to pull their fingers out and actually do it.

Not because vendors want to shift kit, but for once this is being led by consumers. The whole move towards to omni-channel is a consumer movement. The shoppers themselves see what the technology can deliver for them in terms of ease, convenience and savings.

Retailers too must see this. They just seem to be dithering as to how to implement it.

As Lysa Hardy, CMO at NBTY Europe tells us ahead of her mobile keynote at IRX15 on 25 March at the NEC: “Mobile is critically important to retailers as traffic is shifting to it rapidly now and this has key implications for e-commerce. Retailers have to optimise ASAP to give the most efficient experience possible across all channels.”

And this is going to require some really radical rethinking of processes and operations. It also, I think, requires a rethink of the approach to how people shop. Mobilising the web is key, but so are apps. You need both. But what really needs to happen is that apps need to operate in the background and be something that come to life when triggered by context, location and actions of the shopper. It is no good investing money in apps that you expect people to remember to open, instead they should be the conduit through which you talk to the consumer when it’s most appropriate.

Of course there are huge challenges to making this happen, but this is really what mobile and omni-channel retail are really about: context and location and personalization of the shopping experience.

It needs some deep thinking and some deep re-thinking, but it can be done. I hate to say it, but it does actually require a paradigm shift in thinking.

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