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Meeting in the middle: why mobile is omnichannel’s secret weapon

Meeting in the middle: why mobile is omnichannel’s secret weapon

60% of us hold it while we sleep. 1 in 6 people take it in the shower. 54% would save it over their cat if a fire broke out in their home, according to a Motorola survey. I am, of course, talking about smartphones.
This pocket-sized device has revolutionized not only the way we communicate, but the way we conduct our lives – and shopping is no exception. The biggest disruptor to the retail industry since the Internet, mobile technology has forever changed (and further complicated) the path to purchase. And it’s the one platform retailers need to get right, if they want to keep growing profits.

Why? Because mobile is the ‘middle man’ of omnichannel retail. For many consumers, it’s the meeting point between digital and physical, and its influence impacts sales conversions and customer retention in many different ways.

Mobile’s influence on online retail

mCommerce is the fastest growing opportunity for retailers. 51% of ecommerce sales now happen through a mobile device, the latest IMRG statistics reveal, yet many organizations are falling at the first hurdle by failing to optimize their website for smartphones and tablets. This doesn’t just deter mobile visitors; it can actually prevent traffic from reaching it, as Google prioritizes mobile-friendly platforms.

Meeting in the middle: why mobile is omnichannel’s secret weapon

In addition, not all retailers are supporting their website activity with a transactional retail application. While it’s not necessarily going to attract casual customers (who will veer towards desktop websites as they require less effort to access), mobile apps are a powerful way to nurture relationships with frequent customers.

Apps are a great way to mine shopper data, as every interaction can be mapped back to a device ID. This can then be used to personalize marketing communications, increasing shopper spend in a targeted, relevant manner.

Mobile’s influence on physical retail

Another key feature of Apps which demonstrates mobile’s influence on physical retail is loyalty. As a digital loyalty specialist, we’re seeing clients who adopt a mobile-first attitude to incentive schemes experience an increase in uptake, greater interaction levels, and higher redemption rates.

There is little compulsion to use generic paper vouchers handed out post-purchase, or to dig out plastic points cards from the back of a wallet. Most people won’t leave the house without their phone, so using it as a loyalty ‘card’ makes a lot of sense. Additionally, it becomes much easier for shoppers to collect and spend points from their online and offline activities in one place. True omnichannel loyalty.

One final thing I’d like to mention on the subject of influencing bricks-and-mortar shopping is the driving force mobile plays on purchases. Smartphones have become consumers’ go-to research tool, and this can potentially increase sales on two levels. Firstly, it is a reference point in the aisles, as shoppers compare prices, look up product information, consult customer reviews etc. There’s a great opportunity here for retailers to increase their authority over this activity by equipping store associates with mobile POS systems to do the leg work on shoppers’ behalf.

Secondly, mobile is increasingly generating click-and-collect traffic to stores. Desktop searches are being replaced by smartphone browsing, as consumers look up items on the move or whilst they’re relaxing at home. Click-and-collect was developed to give shoppers greater convenience, and what could be more convenient than discovering an item online on your way to work, and then picking it up from a local collection point on your way home?

I could write a book about the ways in which mobile influences omnichannel retail, but these few scenarios show what a powerful role it plays in both the digital and physical shopping environments. And, as the one device consumers can’t do without, it’s the one area retailers really need to get right.

Senior Vice President for iVend Retail Europe from CitiXsys, Richard Kolodynski has over 30 years professional experience in global sales and channel development. A high profile name in retail circles, Richard gained business, account management, leadership and technology-related expertise working with top-tier retail players. He is currently responsible for strategic alliances, retail strategies, commercial management and channel partner recruitment and management throughout Europe.


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