At various times throughout the year buzzwords tend to appear, describing the latest fashions, trends or developments in a given sector.
Right now, the art of conducting transactions using mobile handsets, or ‘m-commerce’, is one of the hottest topics in the retail industry, as companies look to find the most successful way of selling goods to an increasingly tech-savvy consumer who wants to buy on the move.
Four of the big telecommunications firms in the UK announced in June that they were set to work in collaboration in order to raise awareness and speed up the adoption of m-commerce, contactless payment and near field communication (NFC) systems. The joint venture will aim to inform UK businesses and consumers about the benefits of embracing this new technology.
A new guide from electronic payment solutions provider VeriFone entitled Making M-Commerce A Reality encourages retailers to commit early to NFC and mobile technology to ensure they are prepared for a payment revolution that is already “transforming many lives and businesses”.
The guide suggests six steps to successful m-commerce enablement, but it is going to take more than just telcos working together to ensure widespread roll-out occurs; retailers must collaborate too.
“Without the collective force of the retail industry providing the infrastructure necessary to make and take m-payments, the number of NFC-enabled mobiles will be irrelevant and m-commerce forecasts unachievable,” the VeriFone guide states.
“Consumers will be reluctant to embrace mobile commerce without the confidence that it is being widely accepted. VeriFone can help retailers build shopper confidence and reap the close-to-customer brand and sales-building benefits.”
So what are some of the measures suggested by VeriFone?
Firstly, companies need to accept that NFC will go mainstream and commit early because it is important to gain a competitive advantage over those who are slower to adapt to change. Businesses must also understand that NFC and contactless are similar but not the same – this is an important distinction to make.
NFC is a valuable point of sale (POS) technology because it provides customers with intelligent, two-way and secure checkout capabilities. This is probably one of the main reasons why it appears set for widespread adoption in the coming years.
Retailers must be aware too that there is the potential for increased creativity with m-commerce and value-added applications will gain in importance.
Eagle Eye Solutions, for example, provides the technology for retailers to offer promotions and gift cards through mobiles which can then be redeemed at the POS by typing relevant codes into a normal payment terminal.
This type of mobile marketing has the potential to generate more sales for retailers, allow brands to gather more data about their customers and ultimately give shoppers the opportunity to benefit from incentives that save them money. It is a fresh angle and huge extension on any targeted marketing campaign currently in existence.
What is key to successful adoption of m-commerce, however, is that interested parties start dialogue with proven payment partners, such as VeriFone, as soon as possible so they can better understand the impact and implications on existing operations before NFC becomes mainstream.
Now could be a great time for retailers to investigate how the technology will work for them.
Each retail technology provider you speak to in this current economic climate will highlight the importance of getting POS right in-store, and many companies in the industry are looking to change their systems as we approach a new frontier for customer service and the use of tech in the sales process.
Innovative ways are needed to get people spending money in shops, as opposed to online or not at all.
If there’s already a budget in place for revamping a business’s POS technology and in-store customer-facing facilities, retailers should ensure that any investment of this type includes the adoption of m-commerce capabilities.
Retailers that were slow to launch transactional websites and sluggish to react to the advent of pure-play digital businesses in their market have found themselves struggling to catch up and, in many cases, have been battling to win back market share. It could be fatal for their business if they let the same thing happen in relation to m-commerce.
Many of the big name retailers are making moves to incorporate mobile into their everyday operations. Renowned former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy is just one of the illustrious names who has voiced support for mobile as a sales channel.
M-commerce is undoubtedly a major growth area and retailers need to act sooner rather than later if they want to make it work for them.
This is a promotional piece from VeriFone.
To download the VeriFone: Making M-commerce a reality whitepaper, please click here. You must be a registered user of Retail Gazette in order to download this document. Registration is free, simply sign up for our daily news letter.