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Editor’s comment (IRM55)

Last year, the number of mobile phones on the planet exceeded the number of people and the figure is increasing five times faster than the human population. In the UK, the average home now has 7.4 internet-enabled devices with smartphones being the most common. More than half of homes also have a tablet device with almost a quarter of those without one when questioned in February saying that they’d have one by the end of the year. No wonder then that mobile shopping is on the increase, having overtaken purchases from desktops as the growth area for retail.

“We don’t see mobile slowing down,” commented Sarah Baillie, Head of Multichannel Business Development, House of Fraser in an interview on with Chloe Rigby. “In fact, we don’t really talk about mobile now, but about touch interfaces,” she said after House of Fraser won the InternetRetailing Award not just for Mobile but also the Innovation Award and the Judges’ Award.

“The pace and range of development has to continue, and again, I think the online business has really progressed in leaps and bounds and now we’re trying to make sure the offline environment is also using all the great interactions and products that have been developed online,” she said.

Over at John Lewis, its ‘How we shop, look and live’ report highlights how today’s ‘expert shoppers’ have no issue with multi-screening and interchanging their phones, tablets and PCs to suit their needs. Mobile accounted for 60% of traffic to in the past year with mobile revenue growing by 68%. “This channel has not yet reached peak usage and ongoing developments will make the experience even more engaging,” the company said.

So, what do retailers need to put in place to maximise these changes in shopper behaviour? As Paul Skeldon reports further on in this issue, the technology sector tells us that we live in a mobile-first era. Wrong. Retailers live and operate in a customer-first world where the shoppers they want to bag arrive through all sorts of channels, on all sorts of devices, at all sorts of times – and they are driven to that point of purchase in myriad combinations of ways. He then goes on to look at how you design online, mobile and app strategies to fit, and, more importantly, how you make the experience seamless across them all.

He also looks at the issues surrounding marketing to these shoppers’ mobile devices and asks whether probabilistic or deterministic matching is best.

Simon Howship, Managing Director of Common Agency, shares his thoughts on what’s happening in the constantly-changing app space and helps to clear the water distinguishing between meaningless marketing stunts and apps which are “an act of pure retail genius”. He warns though that now is the time to get on board with an app, in readiness for when mobile spend really rockets. A warning that’s backed up by research on Q3 2015 from Criteo which states that brands that make their app experience a priority generate nearly 60% of mobile revenue from the app, up from 50% in Q2. For travel brands that make their apps a priority, about 50% of mobile revenue comes from the app.

Digital wallets have also been much in the news of recent time and offer a wealth of opportunities for retailers, while driving value for customers, making in-store payments more efficient, convenient and secure. However, they also bring challenges of which retailers need to be aware. Rupert Blackham, Innovation Consultant at global commerce consultancy Salmon, explains further.

Mobile can also be used to collect data about customers with services added to help customers in store. The early promise of beacons for retailers was in their ability to trigger marketing messages to customers, but, as I investigate, is their value more in the data collected rather than the offers pushed?

Closing off the issue is a round up of the insights shared by retailers at the recent InternetRetailing Conference. If you weren’t able to join us on the day, the presentations are available to view online at

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