Upmarket department store Heal’s will next week join the growing ranks of retailers operating a transactional mobile website.
In addition to the new m-commerce site, the furniture specialist will use QR codes on tickets and advertising material, helping customers interact with the brand via technology they appear increasingly keen to use.
Andrea Warden, CEO of Heal’s, which has six shops in the UK including a 42,000 sq ft flagship store in London’s Tottenham Court Road, aims to use these new tech outlets to track people’s spend, while next week’s launch is part of a wider plan to evolve the company’s customer relationship management strategy.
“Mobile will be huge in retail. You just look at how people use their smartphones – I can almost run my whole business from my smartphone,” she told Retail Gazette.
“People are working on their phones, and the proportion of people who access the website via mobile is around seven per cent. When you top that up with iPad users the figure reaches around 12 per cent.
“I can only see that quantum leaping when we have a fully transactional mobile website that is easy to access and shop from.”
Last week, Hobbycraft Chairman Simon Burke told this publication that he does not want to see retailers make the same mistakes with mobile that they made when e-commerce first emerged over a decade ago.
Many companies saw the advent of online retailing as a threat to their bricks & mortar business, but mobile appears to provide an essential link between the mediums.
Burke acknowledged that most retailers understand that m-commerce is an area where they should invest but are cautious about doing so – and Warden’s comments would support this hypothesis.
“We spent a long time last year considering apps, but then we decided it was probably better to just get the right mobile site,” she explained.
Heal’s has made plans to establish an F-commerce platform through social networking giant Facebook, and this service is set to be launched in due course.
M-commerce and technological innovation is very much on the agenda at Heal’s for the 12 months ahead and Warden expects that the changes introduced next week will soon double the number of people accessing its online business via mobile handsets.
“I can imagine that figure getting even larger going forward,” she added.
Read more from Andrea Warden in Retail Gazette Big Interview next month.