Retail goes mobile

NEW YORK - JULY 09:  People wait on line in fr...
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Evidence #1

US Retailer Best Buy identified the following 6 trends and consequently have developed a cogent retail strategy that embraces mobile in a big way.

  • increased smart phone sales and usage

  • dramatic increase in mobile Web usage

  • mobile commerce adoption grows

  • mobile search becomes essential

  • multichannel marketing mix expands

  • and market fragmentation continues

You can’t argue with those trends can you?

Evidence #3

An executive involved with a recent trial completed in India (Citibank) concluded that: “The Citi Tap and Pay pilot has more than validated expectations, with a clear consumer demand emerging for contact-less mobile payments and services during the pilot. This is an extremely strong endorsement and validates our belief that mobile payments have the potential to transform the way our highly mobile, international and increasingly urban customers make everyday payments.”

Evidence # 3

In January I picked Foursquare as the new killer app – and I have the tweets to prove it. Only time will tell if I am right – at the moment it is US centric. Whether this application or another is the eventual winner, the principle behind my pick is that is (thus far)

  • the best integration of social media

  • on a mobile platform

  • that has commercial value

This MUST be a winner, don’t you agree?

  • The fun and interaction of being human and being part of a tribe of people,

  • with the complete mobility offered by cellular phones,

  • and the opportunity to make a buck

Evidence #4

It is now becoming so easy, and it is not only for the big guns of retail.

Every second blogger (I exaggerate only a little) now has their own iPhone App. I don’t have one, and I don’t think what I have to say is so important that people will download an app to stay in touch all the time – BUT the cost of building an App is only a few hundred dollars – not counting hosting.

Cheapskate that I am, I signed up at Widgetbox and created a mobile site for retailsmartresults.com.

If you are reading this on a mobile phone (or have it handy) type in: http://m.wbx.me/retailsmartresults

It does not look like anything in a normal browser and in fact only visible in Safari/Firefox/Google Chrome – not Internet Explorer.

But the point is that I created it for free in approximately 3 minutes flat.

Evidence # 5

A recent emarketer report concludes that it is NOT just the young ones who are using mobile phones.

“Baby boomers are on the verge of adopting smartphones and the mobile Internet. In the vanguard of this movement are younger boomers, just as they are more active Internet users. But boomers’ mobile Internet adoption rates will be similar to their social media uptake—that is, slow. They must see the benefits before they sign on.

I rest my case.

So what to do with this information? Every business is different, so every business will likely adopt a different strategy at a different time.

I would NOT recommend to many retail businesses that they should be at the forefront of most of these innovations. It is much better to be a quick follower. (It isn’t called the bleeding edge for nothing…) But you can’t afford to ignore this.

[If you have not heard of emarketer, foursquare, Google Goggles etc. you are probably more out of touch than you should be.]

  1. Stay on top of things. Read a lot. Subscribe to appropriate blogs (this one about the carbon economy), and research services. Go to conferences. Subscribe to etailing on Inside Retailing.

  2. Get a coach or a consultant on retainer to keep track of it for you.

  3. Make an effort to see the reps/salespeople who are trying to flog you this stuff. Read the proposals and engage. It is the cheapest education you can get and probably the most effective.

  4. Watch the competition – closely.

  5. Join a community of professionals and collaborate with people who are interested in the same things. If you can’t find a group, start one here. I asked a question on Twitter before writing this article and received 3 good links to explore. That is what belonging to a community can do for you.

  6. A Mobile Marketing strategy cannot be developed in isolation. Don’t go there unless you have a clear (existing) strategy that will provide the context for m-commerce (unless you are an m-tailer ;-)

Would love to hear if you can share your strategies by comment? Do you think this is a sustainable trend?


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