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Four ways with mobile and cross-channel retailing

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With mobile gluing together the whole cross-channel play for all retailers, Paul Skeldon asks what techniques and strategies retailers can implement today around mobile to offer the kind of experience shoppers demand. 

1. Scan and go 

One of the most popular in-store uses of mobile is in self-check-out. From a customer point of view, it solves that biggest problem with in-store shopping: queuing. This sort of technology lies at the heart of Amazon Go’s launch into the grocery market. Amazon Go uses mobile to let the shopper check in to the store and then monitors what they do, what they put in their bag and when they leave. It then charges them to their Amazon account. While this is the cutting edge, the same basic experience can be delivered much more simply using smartphones and apps – and this is exactly what a number of retailers are doing. Sainsbury’s is now using its SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go technology in its till-free London Holborn store (pictured)

2. Payments

A significant element of mobile in-store technologies such as scan and go services are payments. Mobile has changed how people can pay for their shopping, from apps that simply remember the users card to using specialised payment apps, contactless payments and more.

The Co-op has trialled pay-in-aisle technology in staff stores in Manchester and at Microsoft in Reading. The two have worked with Mastercard to enable shopper to scan and pay for their items in aisle, using a dedicated app, and then leave. 

One significant aspect for retailers looking to nail cross-channel retail is to look at what payment mechanisms are likely to attract customers to the store or website that wouldn’t necessarily normally come. Many are starting to adopt the ability to pay in instalments for goods Payment company Klarna is working with, among others, Missguided and the Hideout music festival, to allow shoppers to buy something in three payment chunks. The service is designed to make payments easier, and to help people manage their money. For retailers, it helps them sell to people who may have deemed the goods too costly in one hit.

3. Join it all together

The final piece of the equation is joining all the dots. Retail is becoming not only cross-channel, bit a complex web of interactions using those channels. Unifying it and understanding it is going to be key. Data from payments platform Adyen reveals that truly omni-channel shoppers who regularly buy from a retailer both on and offline spend 15% more per purchase than other shoppers. Providing a positive omnichannel experience boosts loyalty, as those that shop with retailers both online and offline spend twice as often as single channel shoppers. Yet most retailers have no real idea of the actual numbers linking their online, mobile and footfall traffic, nor how it can be traced back to marketing spend. While mobile holds the key to opening up cross-channel retail for both consumers and retailers, it is also likely to be the only tool that retailers have to assess who is doing what. Perhaps, while investing in mobile will be crucial in the coming year, investing in understanding the data garnered from it in a joined up way is going to prove to be even more vital.

4. Delivery control

Mobile is also key to managing the new battleground in online retail: delivery. With Amazon – and more recently in the US Walmart – routinely offering next-day delivery and, soon, same-day delivery, getting the goods to the shopper is becoming the crucial part of the competitive offering for many ecommerce players. While most can’t compete economically with Amazon, handing ‘remote control’ of the delivery process to customers can still be a canny differentiator. Mobile apps allow for a richer interaction between the customer and the retailer – and that extends to managing third party carriers too, if they can integrate with the retailer app. This allows shoppers to not only track packages, but increasingly to dictate when they are actually delivered and, in theory, changing where they get deliver – all on the fly.

This is an extract from a longer piece that first appeared in the IRUK Top500 Mobile & Cross-channel Performance Dimension Report 2019. Click here to explore InternetRetailing research, including the Top500 series of reports.

Image courtesy of Sainsbury’s

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