Although mobility has been a hot topic for the past 2-3 years, it feels like the hype cycle is reaching its peak. The number of global smartphone users are rising daily, and those users are increasingly incorporating their mobile device into retail activities.
As a result, mobility is becoming the heart of the battle for consumer loyalty. From responsive websites to apps and in-store solutions, there are opportunities for retailers to win and lose mobile-influenced commerce in every channel.
Online, Google’s latest algorithm update has intensified the need for mobile optimisation. Now, responsive web page will be prioritised in its search engine results – and mobile-unfriendly sites will see their performance plummet.
In the store, mobile technology is not only enabling retailers to serve customers quicker and more effectively, it’s turning shopping into an experience. The Apple store is a great example of this.
An interesting recent Forbes article analysed why critics believed the concept of Apple stores would not take off when they first launched in 2001. This was because the industry focused purely on sales projections – forgetting to consider the emotional connection shoppers make with bricks-and-mortar.
Apple was quick to realise that mobility is directly proportional to consumer experience. Gone are the days of a single point of sale; customers want to be ‘wowed’ when they enter a store, and this relies on mobile POS technology connecting the digital with the physical.
Now, many retailers are eager to follow in Apple’s footsteps, but successful store mobility projects are more complex than
handing store associates tablets and smartphones. They involve a whole new ‘mobile-first’ mindshift, in which technical solutions are implemented around the consumer to improve their store interactions.
In order to create a mobile-focussed retail experience, many retailers are going back to the drawing board with their business models. As Forrester analyst Thomas Husson noted in a recent blog, mobile is a catalyst for retail disruption, and companies need to start preparing for the full revolution – remember we are still in the early stages!
In practical terms, this means integrating mobile solutions into current sales and technology strategies, in a flexible manner. Very few retailers will rebuild their IT infrastructure from scratch around mobile, so they must look for a technology partner that can harmoniously introduce mobile capabilities to their operational network.
How mobile integration successfully changes the customer experience is something I will discuss in detail another time.
However, I will leave you with one thought:
The mobile opportunity is only going to grow over the next 2-3 years. Therefore retailers need not only a mobile POS solution that works today, but one that can scale as their business – and the market opportunity – matures.