What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? I suspect, after turning off the alarm, most of us will check our mobiles before we get out of bed.

It’s the piece of technology we can’t leave the house without and, increasingly, can’t shop without. However, many retailers have experienced difficulties delivering satisfying mobile experiences – until now.

Considering how ubiquitous mobile devices have become with modern life – there are currently 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions globally, and by 2020 this figure will have passed the 6 billion mark – it is surprising that this technology is not a bigger feature in retail already.

There is certainly an appetite for mobile-based experiences. Just this week, a survey released by Apadmi revealed that 8 in 10 shoppers are keen to start collecting loyalty points through a smartphone app. Many of these consumers are happy to share their location with a retailer if it means receiving customized incentives.

Loyalty is not the only element of retail becoming increasingly mobile-centric. In developed markets, mCommerce is the fastest growing sales channel; it now accounts for 30% of all online sales in North America. Even with desktop ecommerce or bricks-and-mortar purchases, the starting point for browsing, adding to basket and ordering – whether for home delivery or click-and-collect – can often be traced back to mobile devices.

Clearly, consumers want to engage with brands and retailers through their smartphone in a sophisticated manner, so why haven’t more businesses adopted a mobile-first approach?

Well, there are a lot of parallels between the growth of mCommerce and the growth of ecommerce. When online shopping first seriously disrupted retail models, many organizations chose to build a separate digital operation. As we have seen with the growth of omnichannel, this siloed approach cannot serve the needs of a customer who wants to be recognized wherever they shop, and therefore many retailers have invested in retail technology that can integrate their online/offline operations.

The same is true for mobile commerce. Treated as a ‘toe in the water’ exercise for many companies initially, or as a standalone channel alongside ecommerce, retailers are now realizing the important of an integrated experience. One that brings the digital and physical experiences together – regardless of device – to create a ‘best of all worlds’ journey.

Mobile applications are an absolutely fundamental part of this evolution. As I mentioned in my 2016 ecommerce predictions, even mobile optimized websites can’t give digital shoppers the intuitive encounters they crave; only the app will suffice. In the UK alone, 85% of the population engages with their favourite retailers through an app, yet almost three quarters believe there is a gap in the market for better retailer applications.

This brings us full circle, back to my initial mention of mobile loyalty schemes at the start of this blog. Embracing mobile-based digital passbooks such as Apple Wallet can unlock a truly omnichannel view of the customer – one in which they can collect incentives based on their total lifetime value.

Supplement mobile loyalty in the store environment with a tablet-enabled sales associate, who can access a customer’s information through cloud technology to make tailored recommendations and personalize customer service, and mobile starts to make omnichannel shopping a reality.

The consumer appetite is evident, the supporting technology is affordable. Now it is time for retailers to embrace the mobile revolution.

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