Mobile is often cast as the villain for retailer brands – stealing away consumers to a potentially limitless range of competitors. It has been reported that in many areas we have seen the demise of the high street during the economic downturn. This coupled with an increase in online shopping, means that the future of the high street seems to be hanging in the balance. So the question remains, is mobile causing the death of the high street?
In my opinion mobile can only become a friend to the high street retailer if implemented effectively. According to an IBM study, mobile sales now represent 19 per cent of all online sales, up 28 per cent from last year. M-commerce is no emerging market; in my opinion it’s definitely arrived. UK consumers are pioneers of m-commerce, with visits to retail websites using smartphones significantly increasing and as a result, m-commerce will only continue to grow and will become the essential tool for consumers to research and buy goods and services and engage with companies as well as each other. The key for retailer brands is to find ways to make buying in-store the convenient option – and then enhance this experience with mobile activation. Mobile has functionality that desktops cannot provide and will enhance the overall retail experience, not to mention drive footfall into stores.
As consumers migrate from desktop to tablets, retailers must ensure its web experience is mobilised to both smartphones and tablets so that users can shift their shopping habits with ease. At the same time, retailers must use the mobile experience to their advantage. For example, coupons and vouchers can be delivered to smartphones to drive shoppers to retail outlets with special offers which can be tailored and personalised depending on the user’s location and preferences.
In reality, mobile is the ingredient that is keeping the high street alive. Technology offers many opportunities and retailers and businesses must pay close attention to how they can exploit these. Indeed, rather than replacing the role of the high-street, the development of multi-channel retailing may afford a clear opportunity for them to place themselves at the centre of its emerging economy. We’re already starting to see a greater number of businesses adopting the ‘click and collect’ model, rolling out ‘one tap’ payment / wallet services, whereby people can pay for low value products and services using their devices, pop up store windows enabling people to interact with products via mobile handsets – the list goes on.
Focusing on leveraging well thought-out mobile strategies, which are flexible enough to cope with the constant innovation and evolution, is the way brands can make the most of m-commerce. I challenge any retailer brand to look at their mobile optimised site or app – and test the experience.
It is expected to generate revenue – how easy is it for you to go from opening the experience to the final credit card swipe? Look at those payment integrations; the more the better. Think PayPal, credit cards, etc. Make images as big as possible, make the user experience seamless, and make sure the user never has to guess where you want them to go next to complete the sale. Make the journey as clear and engaging as possible to convert at the final hurdle.
Brands must respond to the massive shift in shopper behaviour and stop perceiving mobile as a threat, but a blessing. It’s up to retailers to see how they can improve the customer service experience, both in person and in a virtual environment. I believe that the future will see successful brands implementing a more experience-led, interactive experience in-store, relying on online for the sales.