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Four ways mobile can transform your business today

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Now that Christmas – and all that Black Friday hoopla – is over, there is much reflection going on in retail as to how the peak shopping season went. It didn’t go well. This comes in some ways as a surprise: the economy is booming for many, credit is up and there seemed to be a thirst for shopping.

Then again, on the flip-side, it’s perhaps not so surprising: everyone wants a bargain – we are all living with austerity as a political philosophy these days – and the UK’s embracing of Black Friday was in many ways a Christmas killer.

The bright side in all this seems to be that online and mobile didn’t suffer the same fate as the High Street this Christmas and, relatively speaking, e-commerce did well.

This has spurred many commentators to assess why this is the case and what it means for retail in 2016. Clearly, mobile is going to play a vital role in rehabilitating retail and making things profitable and instil growth. We are well on this. Last week I showed you 8 ways that your retail business is going to change in 2016, based on how mobile has the power to save you.

So this week, I thought I would build on this theme and perhaps suggest some ways in which you can, today, make mobile work for your business so that, post January slump, you can return to growth. So here are some quick fix tips.

  • Embrace mobile marketing

The simplest and most immediate thing you can start to do to use mobile to drive business is to use it to communicate with your customers and prospects to get them into your stores – and on to your sites and spending. The simplest ways to do this are via email and text, but you need to look at how to then drive them to where you want them to go. Typically, this needs to involve offers and incentives. It’s not a guarantee of increased footfall, but it isn’t expensive so you can try many things until you strike gold. And be inventive: no, you won’t top David Bowie’s ultimate marketing ploy of making an album about his own death then dying immediately (anyone planning any marketing awards for inventiveness should give up now, this won’t be beaten. Ever.), but you can try all sorts of things, even if they seem crazy on paper. The digital world is a place where no old rules should apply.

  • Embrace women

Of course, we should always embrace women (but not in a creepy way), but your mobile strategy should be skewed towards women. Research in the US shows that ‘mobile warriors’ – those that do the most mobile-based retail research, shopping and respond to offers – are women, often below the age of 35. While mobile was thought of as a more geeky, man-orientated way to shop without leaving the safety of the shed, today it is now very much the way women shop. And it makes sense: they tend to be the talkers, chatters and interacters of society and they all now have smartphones in their bags… time to tap into this gender-orientated shift.

  • Embrace omni-channel

Everyone claims to be omni-channel, but are you really? A study across the US and UK found that consumers see a huge disconnect between what they want omni-channel retailing to be and what they get. Consumers want seamless, and that isn’t just the common basket across channels, but simple things like the same price across channels, the same delivery options and the ability to return things both through the same channel they bought them and any of the other channels you have. Much as with mobile marketing, no old rules should apply. Think about your mum and make it work for her.

  • Embrace your staff

One of the key Views likely to emerge from next week’s NRF show in New York is the proliferation of mobile and online based POS and in store tools. Computer giant Brother has already announced that it will be teaming up with Retail Pro International to develop “associate friendly mobile PoS Solutions” – that’s mobile PoS that smartphone toting teen shop assistants can work to you and me – as they see it as vital to bridging the online and offline worlds in a way that both shoppers and staff both understand. But this is the tip of the iceberg. Your warehousing and logistics need to be connected too, as do your manufacturers. In fact, everything needs to be connected – this is what the Internet of Things actually means for business. Of course, this isn’t a quick fix (unlike points 1, 2 and 3 above: get cracking on those), but it’s the strategy retailers need to adopt now.

So there you have it, four top tips that can help you develop your retail business and how mobile holds the key. Good luck – and let us know how you get on.


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