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EDITORIAL A new generation of mobile in retail

Evolution: mobile is powering incremental yet evolutionary changes in retail

Things have been quite quiet in mobile over the past few months – but that is starting to change, as a range of companies start to put it to use in new ways. – always a pioneer of e and m-commerce – has spent the summer working with Yodel to create in flight delivery changes via Yodel’s app. This seemingly innocuous move is pioneering. It marks a real shake up in the delivery world and cements the mobile’s place as a remote control for life.

Unlocking delivery is one of the key differentiators in retail. While many are working on next hour or same day delivery, adding the ability to change where a delivery is made, on the fly, is equally compelling and convenient.

This sort of thing is a big USP for any retailer right now – most shoppers would choose that level of flexibility if faced with a  choice of vendors. Something Yodel knows only too well.

Another adopter/disruptor this week is power supply giant nPower, which has become one of the first UK companies to adopt Apple Business Chat (ABC)  – the corporate version of iMessage – as a means of contacting customers.

While Google-backed RCS makes little progress – 55 out of some 850 mobile network operators worldwide have adopted it, mainly in South America – nPower sees potential in using ABC, clearly it has a significant proportion of iPhone users among its customer base.

What these next generation messaging services allow for is for a more rich content and some exciting new services to embedded into customer contact. Some experiments in Indonesia with RCS have seen uber-like services built into what is essentially a text message from a retailer, so that the recipient of an in-store offer can not only get money off, but can book a car or a tuk-tuk to get them to the store.

nPower will be using ABC to interact with the customers looking for or running smart meters – and the company is using it to make for a rich two way conversation where information, images and more can be shared between customer and call centre agent via messaging.

This, along with RCS and developments in OTT messaging services such as WhatsApp and even Facebook Messenger, will be the future of B2C interaction – offering a much richer, two-way experience that offers the ultimate in personalisation, fuelled by real agents, AI and bots.

But only those that really get it right will succeed. Consumers are already on to brands that don’t get personalisation right, with an increasing number of shoppers prepared to turn their backs on anyone that fails to offer them a proper personalised experience.

As ever, as fast as retailers evolve, the consumer has moved on to the next thing. But don’t let that put you off. Incremental changes, like those of, yodel and nPower, are important changes and should be ideas to fuel your evolution.

Image: Fotolia

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