Understanding the real power of mobile and mobility is one of the key attributes in what marks out a retailer these days. Of course, nearly all mainstream retailers understand some aspects of mobile – the need to make their site accessible to mobile devices, especially tablets and so on – but truly understanding the power of mobile is really the key to understanding omni-channel retailing. And understanding omnichannel and exploiting it is what will set retailers ahead of the pack.
Mobile is more than just a device to access the web. Sure, tapping into the growing number of consumers who are using tablets and smartphones instead of, or at least alongside, PCs to access e-commerce sites is essential. But this is 101-stuff . What mobile really does is allow you to put your ‘shop’ (virtual or real or both) into the location, context and mind-set of your potential customer: it truly allows you to deliver your off erings personally and, in theory, ‘in the moment’.
And the retailers who understand this are the ones that are worthy of being considered ‘top’. The mobile device carried by the consumer is a window into their lives and creating innovative ways of seductively serenading them through that window is how forward thinking retailers are going to capitalise on bringing together the online and physical worlds – and benefi ting from both.
One perfect example of this is sudden interest in Beacons. This seemingly niche, low-powered Bluetooth technology appeared on fi rst launching to be a bit of Apple hyperbole. However, a few forward thinking retailers have started to see that it off ers huge potential to hook consumers. It is a low-cost way of delivering contact-less communication and interaction with consumers and one that can be tuned to a single store.
Right now innovators in this space are looking at how to use it to ping marketing ‘incentives’ at customers, but this will be just the start. It will start to offer a way of delivering two-way interaction in-store and even may lead to a low-cost way of delivering true IRIS (internet retailing in store) services.
But mobile as a marketing channel is the start.The innovators who are tentatively reaching out through mobile are likely to start to then use mobile as everything from a payment channel to portable checkout. Understanding how to extend the beginnings of a mobile-powered omni-channel world is where the true innovators in retail are going to come to the fore. I for one am very excited to learn more about what these pack leaders are going to do in the coming months and can’t wait to see a retail world that is hyper effi cient, customer focussed and powered by mobile.