It’s impossible to avoid the topic of mobile in retail. Every time you open a magazine or website homepage, there’s a new stat about the exponentially increasing value of mCommerce to the industry.

So, by now, surely all retailers have woken up to the importance of smartphones, and started developing a mobile-first strategy?

Unfortunately not.

Despite around half of retailers claiming that they make sales through mobile, a surprisingly high 70% don’t currently have either a consumer app or mobile website, according to a recent Barclays survey.

The urgency for a smartphone friendly platform has increased recently, with the introduction of Google’s new mobile-friendly search algorithm – which penalises sites not compatible with smartphone traffic. For more information, read my blog: Google’s update underlines the importance of the mobile customer.

More concerning, around two thirds of retailers have no specific plans to invest in mobile, despite the fact that smartphone spending is forecast to increase by more than £40 billion over the next 10 years. A separate study by the Centre for Retail Research has revealed that collectively, retailers will lose out on £6.6 billion a year due to this lack of resources.

However, it’s not just the revenue opportunity that businesses without a long-term mobile strategy could sacrifice. Mobile is consumers’ most used electronic device; it’s their go-to point for news sources, alarm clocks, entertainment, communication, research, calculators, commerce, photography and much, much more. It’s fast becoming the core engagement tool for digital relationships.

Ignoring the rising influence of mobile, therefore, could cost retailers valuable chances to strengthen consumer relationships – and not just online. Mobile has become an essential part of the offline shopping experience too, from ‘checking in’ on social media in-store, to comparing prices at the shelf edge.

By pretending mobile doesn’t exist, retail organisations are giving shoppers free reign to digitally wander in whichever direction they choose, potentially towards rival brands.

Instead, what they should be doing is taking advantage of the fact that the rest of the industry is on the back foot, and implementing a mobile customer engagement strategy at the point of sale.

Up until now, mobile POS in the store has been slower to take off than many predicted, and this is partially due to consumer adoption levels. Over the past 12-18 months, though, we’ve seen a real explosion in shoppers’ appetite for mobile interactions, and this has forever altered the role of smartphones within retail engagement.

By bringing mPOS into bricks-and-mortar encounters, retailers can regain control of consumers’ mobile journey, drawing on digital capabilities to assist, advise, cross-sell and up-sell.

Life will also improve from the shopper’s perspective, as they can know the exact location, price and availability of an item, potentially with a flash discount or complimentary accessory, without having to move an inch. All delivered by an affable, knowledgeable store associate – the kind of service with a smile that just can’t be replicated online.

So our message to the business community is clear. Whether you’re ready to embrace it or not, mobile has disrupted retail as we know it. The longer you continue to ignore its influence, the further disconnected you will become from your customers. Act now, or risk alienation.

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