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Winners, losers and ch-users

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Thank heavens for that: everyone is rallying round to save the high street. Or rather, everyone in the mobile tech space is using the failure of high street names such as HMV, Jessops et al to plug their wares. Pity they didn’t think to market themselves in this way a year ago.

But I mustn’t be too cruel. Mobile – well digital – technology is shaping up to be the thing that can save or resurrect the high street. And everyone knows it. As our stories this week show, using technology is an imperative. Consumers are already there wanting to use their smart devices to shop in new ways and the retail industry has been caught napping to some degree.

While Udozi is offering its platform at a knock down rate to high street retailers to help drive people into store, M&S has really gone to town, opening a dedicated digital lab to help drive the development of digital engagement technologies across all channels as it seeks to become best of breed when it comes to catering to the omni-shopper.

I write this while sitting in Frankfurt airport having spent two days at Germany’s leading mobile tech event M-Days. Much of the talk centred on mobile marketing and commerce, with a particular emphasis on retail. Even here in Germany, the high Strasse is suffering at the hands of digital technology and everyone here knows that mobile is the answer.

One wag here suggested that we can’t look upon mobile consumers as users anymore, now they are choosers (or Ch-users, to quote his PowerPoint). Another bon mot doing the rounds out here is that everyone in retail used to liken mobile to the glue that binds channels together, but now it is becoming clear that it is the foundation on which it is all build.

And this is a good point. Omni-channel retail requires a bit of a rethink, but what it really needs is a lot of consumer data – and the way to collect that data is through mobile wherever and whenever the ch-user chooses to use it (try saying that with a mouthful of lager and not get your boarding pass all soggy).

You have to go where the money is and the money is in mobile right now, not so much as a transaction platform, although that is important, but as a means of communication with ch-users and as a way of getting them to buy from you.

Now this is no mean feat and it involves more than just mobile, it brings in understanding what they do socially – and perhaps even looking at what their friends do socially too. It hard, but it does offer an unparalleled view of the consumer and one that should be taken.

And this of course will be a key theme of the SoLoMo sessions at IRX on 20 March at the NEC. As this week’s speaker interview show’s social media and mobile are already a powerful force for SecretSales – who will be shedding more light on this at the show. See you there.

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