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The glue that binds connected retail finally sets

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I have probably said this many years in a row now, but this Christmas really was a mobile Christmas… no honestly, it was. Look at the facts: High Street retail sales didn’t set the world alight, aside from food, but e-commerce did – however most of the growth in e came from m.

If that, wasn’t enough, consumers are themselves reaching for their mobiles to do the shopping more than ever before, with a staggering 59% of UK shoppers telling researchers that they are buying via their smartphone browser.

However, many retailers are lagging behind the curve. Yet more research shows that most consumers are disappointed with the stabs at omni-channel that many retailers have made so far.

A study of 1,000 smartphone users in the UK by leading mobile app developer, Apadmi, found that only 11% of consumers are interacting with their favourite retailers across all channels including its store, website, and mobile app, demonstrating the need for retailers to implement a strong omni-channel strategy and address app engagement among customers.

There has been an air of mobile being something of a sideline in retail circles in the past two years, many not seeing it deliver what they thought it would. That has now changed and it really is the centrepiece of how e-commerce (or should that now be connected retail?) works. It was long tipped – by people like me – as the glue that holds multi- then omni-channel retail together. Now it is more important than that: now it is the glue that hold retail together.

And it’s not just consumers who have started to finally shift from fixed to mobile technology, some forward thinking retailers are increasingly now embracing the technology. Many retailers added mobile-based queue-busting technologies over the festive period and have decided to keep them into the new year, with good reason.

Office [IRDX ROFF] is a prime example. It instigated portable tech from Box Technologies, to essentially act as another check out but discovered that having a portable, tablet based POS on the shop floor really made an impact. It too has decided to keep the tech in place in the 12 stores where it was used over Christmas.

This is the beginnings of the dream of a mobile enabled omni-channel world. Until now we have largely seen mobile as another channel for part of the shopping journey, but increasingly it is becoming the centre point of the retail experience.

It is not wonder then that both the connected store and mobile are vital parts of this year’s Internet Retailing Expo at the NEC on 27-28 April. My only gripe would be that they are part of the whole, but I am sure that will be what we see in 2017!

The roster of speakers in both tracks are testimony to how important mobile now is. And it looks now like we have proof.

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