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Creating the business case for mobile

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Retailers need to work hard to enhance their in store m-commerce offerings according to Ian Patterson, Managing Director (EMEA) of DigiPoS Store Solutions.

It would be fair to say that eCommerce has come a long way since its origins and has managed to heighten customers’ expectations of value, service and convenience. Today the mobile phone has similar revolutionary capabilities, by replicating aspects of the online experience in store. Yet, in spite of this, payment and check out processing activities via mobile still require serious attention.

The “click and collect” model, which was popularised by Argos with the launch of its app earlier this year, is perhaps the closest yet to the customer easily transacting through the mobile phone.

However, the future of retail is clearly about creating an integrated experience – retailers have to mix online and offline, to create a true multi-channel offering, where all elements work in tandem, and not in opposition. Why therefore, has no one taken the bold step? What is holding retailers back when it comes to offering mobile payments in store?

Technology

When it comes to mobile, there is a lot of technology to take into consideration. An EPoS system, by comparison, is a known entity – retailers have invested in this technology for 10-15 years, and in this scenario they are only managing one touch-point; with mobile the complexity is far greater – covering multi touch points.

As the eCommerce phenomenon grew, retailers undertook extensive development, to ensure the new technology fitted with their existing systems and processes. They will now be facing a similar set of issues with mCommerce, and taking into consideration how their systems can interact with mobile devices.

Clearly there are also myriad options to choose from, with new apps and payment providers launching on an almost daily basis. As the market matures, I wonder if – for many – it is a case of wait and see – retailers will be persuaded to consider what has been road tested, and what emerges as best–of-breed. This time next year, I believe there will be a number of real life case studies, which will clearly demonstrate the benefits of mobile.

For now, many retailers have adopted the easiest route – a mobile optimised website.

Security

When it comes to mCommerce, security is often touted as an issue – for retailers and consumers alike. And, clearly, there is an issue around asset security; paying for goods via a mobile phone in store is as good as self-scanning. For those retailers reticent about this process – what about considering a VIP ‘de-tag and bag’ booth for loyal customers who choose to buy directly through their handset?

Mobile impacts the whole business

As I have previously highlighted, mobile is something which affects the entire business, from IT to operations and marketing. I’d imagine there are many retailers in the midst of internal debate around the value of mobile, and where ‘buy-in’ hasn’t been met by every department.

The huge impact of the recession on the high street has also forced the vast majority of retailers into a ‘do more for less’ policy. Every department is under pressure to reduce costs and to indentify the things they could do better.

But retailers should be warned, where growth re-emerges they need to capitalise on this, and prioritise the things that will bring a quick return; mobile being a point in case.

The customer journey

Retailers recognise that the customer’s journey is a mixed one. When they go into a store and fail to see what they want, they will go to the retailer’s website instead. But, if the site isn’t optimised, they may find themselves feeling frustrated by the whole experience - far from ideal in an era where customer retention counts for everything. If a customer is in store, they need to be able to not only purchase through their mobile when in the shop, but also to view an optimised website. If they have what they need at the right time and in the right place – this customised approach is bound to generate sales.

The writing is on the wall for retailers: mobile has the ability to deliver for the customer – whether that’s shopping in store, redeeming coupons, or location-based services.

The app approach also brings with it a lot of benefits – creating a branded, personalised and location-based experience for the customer. In this scenario, the mobile becomes an additional, complementary store front. And, again, if a particular product is in stock and with the right promotion, the customer is more likely to purchase it.

We have seen that people are comfortable shopping at home on a PC, and they are also adept at going into a shop and undertaking product research through their handset. If retailers could do everything in their power to empower their customers, and offer mobile as another payment option, they would be more likely to close a sale. What we need to remember is that as an issue is solved once, it is solved many times – therefore a one-off investment is certain to pay off.

For now, it’s about creating the business case for mobile, and ensuring it sits high on a retailer’s list of priorities.

With its hardware and software solutions, DigiPoS is redefining technology for retailers, bringing much-needed focus, value and reliability to a competitive market. Today, clients include: House of Fraser, Selfridges, Aurora, Harrods, SuperDry, Next and GAME.

Published on Thursday 14 July by Editorial Assistant

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