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It’s All About the High Street

Paul Skeldon takes a tour around the latest happenings in the mobile retailing space.

While Juniper Research predicts that the number of people shopping remotely by mobile is set to double in the next two years, today some 38% of shoppers who look up goods on mobile actually go into stores and then buy them, according to research by TradeDoubler. Could this be what saves the High Street?

The recent Portas review of UK High Street shopping mentioned digital just three times, but reports and studies by the likes of TradeDoubler and others indicates that mobile could hold the key to boosting the footfall in High Street shops.

“Much has been written about mobile representing a potential nightmare scenario for high street retailers,” explains Dan Cohen, Market Unit Leader, TradeDoubler. “But our study shows that the opposite can be true as long as retailers are prepared to harness the potential of mobile, and not be afraid of closing a sale through different channels. We’re finding that mobile search can be a tremendous catalyst to driving consumers onto the high street.”

And the theory is being put into practice already. Mobile operator Telefónica has launched a new business unit – Telefónica Dynamic Insights – dedicated to identifying and unlocking the potential opportunities for creating value from ‘big data’ for retailers to help them optimize their real-world stores to help use mobile to drive footfall.

The first product, ‘Smart Steps’, will use fully anonymised and aggregated mobile network data to enable companies and public sector organisations to measure, compare, and understand what factors influence the number of people visiting a location at any time.

These insights will help retailers tailor local offerings for existing stores and determine the best locations and most appropriate formats for new stores. A number of retailers are already helping with product development by providing user feedback.

Meanwhile, Econsultancy has released a free report that addresses the shortfalls in the Portas Review, titled ‘How the Internet Can Save the High Street’, which urges businesses to make the most of web and digital technology to drive more customers into their shops and to improve the in-store experience.


Consumer desire for using mobile devices while shopping more than doubled (138%) within the past year, finds the IBM 2012 Retail survey. The study also found that shoppers now demand a more personalised, convenient and budget-friendly shopping experience with the aid of mobile technology.

The IBM study of consumer purchasing trends and shopping habits of 1,800 consumers in the UK found that 39% want to use mobiles to receive personalised promotions, while 42% want to use mobiles to seek out lower prices, and 44% to seek out promotions. 52% want to use mobiles to checkout, and 42% to locate products in-store.

“Shoppers are keen to use their mobiles to scan products, check prices and receive previously scanned product promotions sent direct to their device. Mobile technology is set to change the 4Ps of marketing – product, price, place, promotion – as ‘personalisation’ becomes key.” says Martin Butler, Retail Industry Leader, IBM UK & Ireland .

The survey also found that consumers believe social media and online sources should be a fully integrated part of the shopping experience. In the UK, 39% of consumers rely on the websites for comparative shopping. However, participants still value the ‘touch and feel’ aspects of a store, with 83% saying that they prefer to research online prior to browsing for a product during an in-store visit.


Mobile network operators Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone have been given the go ahead by European regulators to develop a digital wallet currently going under the name of ‘Project Oscar’.

The new m-commerce service will allow customers to make contactless payments with their smartphones in retail outlets, rather than using cash or cards and goes up against projects being run by Barclaycard, Visa, PayPal and Google.

The move marks another step in the development of mobile payments in retail, but there is still someway to go.

A third of UK shoppers think cash will disappear in the coming years, to be replaced by online accounts, cards and mobile, according to Skrill’s Future of Money report.

But, many fear that it is harder to budget if you don’t use cash, while Juniper Research finds that too few sites are mobile optimized to allow purchase, while a significant proportion of consumers still view mobile payments as insecure.

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