Mobile gives Mothercare 'an opportunity to compete'
Mobile has given Mothercare a new way to develop relationships with its customers and compete with its rivals, says the retailer's head of mobile.
Harpinder Singh, mobile commerce manager at Mothercare
, said mobile also offered Mothercare the chance to take a lead quickly with new technologies such as beacons. It's planning to trial the new technology in some of its stores next year.
Speaking at the Demandware Xchange customer conference in Barcelona, Singh said mobile had given Mothercare the chance to compete on something other than price. By putting the customer “at the heart of everything we do,” the retailer could find new ways of giving service.
“Like many other people we have to try to compete with people like Amazon and if we’re just going to go with price, we’re pretty much going to slash our margins and end up out of business,” he said.
“I think mobile’s given us a real opportunity to become more competitive. I guess as a retailer we have a unique advantage in terms of our customer base. They’re looking for a lot more than just a transaction with us. They’re looking for service, advice and information. Same with ELC where they’re probably coming to us for ideas and information on what the best sort of learning toys are.
“I don’t think we’ve got that right as a brand before. We’ve had this unique advantage but we’ve probably relied on our brand names, gone down the price competitive route and tried to do lots of promotions and offers. I think it’s been quite detrimental to the business over time. There’s only so long you can go without competing on anything else but history and reputation. I think at Mothercare mobile has given us an opportunity to readdress that."
The retailer now has mobile sites for Mothercare and Early Learning Centre, smartphone and iPad apps, some of which have won awards. Singh said the philosophy behind them was to engage customers, rather than simply encouraging them to buy. Content includes information on baby development, a name finder, and music. “We put a whole bunch of engaging content in those so they do more than just sell,” said Singh. “Our next focus for those is to really take them into the in-store environment.”
He added: “We’re looking at the potential of mobile and what that means for us in terms of becoming this big digital presence.” That will include the beacon trial, scheduled for next year.
“We’re really putting online and omnichannel at the heart of everything we do," said Singh. "We’re going to go from being a business that has a number of stores and a small ecommerce business to make ecommerce the business with a number of stores that support that business.”
“Mobile has given an opportunity. It’s opened up so many channels: social has become huge. You can’t ignore that fact. I think brands in the UK aren’t ignoring that fact. More and more you see brands like Topshop, Asos, Net a Porter – they do so much more than just sell but are trying to deliver engaging content. I think mobile has opened up that opportunity. It can create great transactions and a great customer experience so that you get people coming back to you. You have that relationship. Mobile gives you that opportunity.”
He added: “I think the brands that don’t take advantage of mobile going forward are really going to suffer. The technology’s moving so quickly now. I can’t keep up and sometimes you don’t know where to put your focus and energy, but if you remember that the customer’s at the heart of everything you do, I think that’s the important bit. I think mobile’s allowed us to connect on that level.”