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Mobile trends for 2014? Mobile is the trend

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Its that time of year again: the time when we take a look at what some of the trends are for mobile in retail. If Christmas has been any guide, mobile is very much at the centre of all trends for 2014 in retail. But what exactly are going to the big things in mobile in 2014 that are going to impact on retail? Let us give you some of our thoughts… We’d love to hear your’s.

Introducing Mobile 3.0

The tech industry is super-keen on software-eque iterative nomenclature, so many in the mobile business are looking at the next stage of mobile development as being Mobile 3.0. While very few people can remember what defined Mobile 2.0 or 1.0 (1.0 was making calls and 2.0 was jabbing at a touch screen), Mobile 3.0 will see the arrival of much more context driven data that you don’t necessarily ask for but that makes your life a lot easier. For example, your 3.0 calendar will tell you, based on your current location, that you have to leave where you now are to make your next appointment.

Mobile 3.0 won’t stop there either. All apps will be context rich and targeted to consumers more around what they like and where they are.

This is a boon for retailers as it means that they can start to be very clever with their advertising and targeting of offers and messaging to consumers. It also starts what is really at the heart of Mobile 3.0: building a personal, on-going relationship between the consumer and the brand to mutual benefit.

How will this work in practice? Well, take for example understanding where your customers are. Analytics can tell you they were online, possible on what network. But if you don’t know where they are or what they are doing then this information is worthless.

If they are all on wifi and standing within yards of your shop then ping them an offer. If they are all on wifi but sprawled on their sofas at home, not such a great idea.

Smart Data not Big Data

At the heart of this move to Mobile 3.0 and its context driven approach lies data. 2012-13 were certainly the ‘Big Data’ years, but to make context really work, everyone using mobile to engage with consumers is going to have to be smarter about what data they gather and how they use it.

While Big Data allows for the slicing and dicing of all manner of seemingly secondary information about customers, the move in 2014 – especially for smaller retailers without the deep pockets demanded by Big Data – is to be more focused on what data to collect and why you need it for special campaigns and specific, context driven engagements. What the specifics are depends on your business and what you want to do, but the move it to smarter rather than voluminous.

Mobile offers the chance to garner really detailed information about the context within which a consumer is interacting with you and so it is this sort of data – perhaps even more so that than previously purchased stuff – that will start to become the real gold in the data mine. It is also the edge that mobile has over online.

Bluetooth Beacons

One of the other trends in mobile retail allied to this collection of data and understanding of context will centre around Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) services such as Apple’s Bluetooth Beacons. These devices will create ‘ultra local’ interaction with consumers not just within a store, but with specific areas of the store and then allow the targeting of offers, information and more. And again, understanding the context these consumers are existing in while they are interacting with you via Bluetooth is going to be key part of the Smart Data puzzle.

Visual search

Most online retail is driven by search, however with many retail sectors – mostly fashion, home furnishings and the like – the need to find things based on what they look like (or more specifically trying to find something that you have seen or are looking at) is actually the key initial shopping parameter. In 2014, technologists are realizing this and developing visual search tools. And mobile – because of its camera – is at the heart of this trend.

The idea is simple: point your phone and the trainers the guy opposite you on the bus is wearing and take a picture and use that to search. The idea has been around for a while, but has yet to be perfected, but products such as FindSimilar, created by London based Cortexica Vision Systems are set to make big strides in this field this year.

The software mimics the way the brain processes images and finds similarities. A picture of a dress, a blouse or a shirt can be analysed by the software which then delivers similar alternatives. Search results are based on a combination of pattern, style, colour and overall design. This broadens choice and helps shoppers to find items that are more affordable or simply closer to their personal taste.

Online fashion search engine ShopStyle has integrated the software into the new version of its free app whilst ‘StyleThief’, which relies entirely on images for search, has also integrated the software. A shopper can use such apps by simply taking a picture on the camera built in to their smartphone. A quick snap of a shop window mannequin, a magazine picture of an item of clothing, someone in the street or a catwalk model is all that is needed to look for similar items, which are then presented for potential in-app purchase.

Second screening

To date we have seen much about how more people are watching TV while using another device than ever before. This second screening phenomenon is set to grow still further in 2014 and finally come into its own.

So far, what we have largely seen is parallel screening, where a consumer is sitting in front of the telly tweeting or chatting with friends around a particularly gruesome ‘talent’ show. But the true potential – and indeed meaning – of second screening is to turn that device into a augmentation of the TV and allow it to become a purchasing channel.

Where this really comes into its own is in turning TV shows into a platform to directly sell things they are watching or seeing on television either in adverts or product placement.

The rise of audio recognition systems such as Shazam to recognize either buried sounds inaudible to humans or to recognize dialogue will make this process more seamless, but even just encouraging people to Google while watching can be effective.

This is going to revolutionise the effectiveness of advertising and the media and is going to come into its own in 2014/


April is rumoured to be the month when you can get your hands on a pair of Google Glasses (sorry, the official name is Google Glass, but I suspect they aren’t going to be called that for long) and so will begin a whole new chapter in mobile tech: wearable technology.

Google Glass is perhaps the most obvious of these – along with the seemingly unloved Samsung Galaxy Gear Watch and the Pebbl – which brings the joys of the web to stuff you can wear. But for me this the really just the showboating end of the market that demonstrates what can be done with this sort of tech.

In reality very few people will wear Google Glass – in fact a survey out this week by finds that two thirds of UK consumers would be way to embarrassed to wear Google Glass and so won’t buy them. The smart watch has also been something of a damp quib. Really what these things do is demonstrate that wireless technology is something that doesn’t have to live in a smartphone or tablet, but is adaptable. And I believe that latterly in 2014 we are going to start to see the introduction of things with mobile tech built in – and the internet of things will be created.

The starting point will be clothes, but it will extend to cars, bags, shoes everything until everything is smart. And this means that there is way more data to gather; way more context to utilize and, bringing us neatly back to almost where we started, will see the initiation of Mobile 4.0 – the mobile internet of everything.

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