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Retail and the mobile revolution

Thursday June 23 2011

Retail Technology magazine's annual feature on mobile technology use in retail has come around at a time when it seems every retailer launching initiatives to harness its benefits internally or with customer-facing applications   Ray Stanton, managing director of software and consulting services provider SCL, said that exploiting new mobile platforms to queue bust, accelerate sales, drive footfall and boost revenue is paramount for the retail environment.  

Retail Technology magazine's annual feature on mobile technology use in retail has come around at a time when it seems every retailer launching initiatives to harness its benefits internally or with customer-facing applications

 

Ray Stanton, managing director of software and consulting services provider SCL, said that exploiting new mobile platforms to queue bust, accelerate sales, drive footfall and boost revenue is paramount for the retail environment.

 

“SCL predicts that mobile PoS [point-of-sale] could particularly benefit the sale of prepaid gift cards, which are all about convenience, visibility and customer access,” he said. “Recent industry figures reveal that gift card sales are booming, despite recession. Many High Street stores will be eager to build on this success by harnessing the latest mobile applications to create volume sales particularly during peak 'gifting' times.

 

He added that US retailers have been the first to free gift cards from the till or customer service desk, helped by the British specialist SCL, whose systems enable the sales of millions of gift cards annually.

 

Loyalty benefits and convenience

 

Renier Lemmens, PayPal Europe chief executive, preferred to focus on its potential to reach customers through a new sales channel. He said: "Mobile technology effectively puts a shopping mall in the consumer’s pocket – wherever they are, whatever they are doing. The boundary between offline and online will blur forever – and the distinction becomes less relevant with each month that passes.”

 

Lemmens added: “If the mall is in your pocket – your bank better be there too. Providing seamless and secure payment experiences goes hand in hand with the future retailing model. That’s what we are focusing on: a convenient and secure digital wallet that is with the consumer anywhere, anytime, and in any way that they wish to access it."

 

Stefan Schmidt, hybris director of product strategy advised Retail Technology readers to get their multichannel strategy right. “Mobile is a hot topic, but it needs to be approached with a clear plan that fits with your overall multichannel strategy,” he said. “Any mistakes made with your mobile channel will cast a harsh light on your ability to support more than one channel. Blurring the lines between channels in your organisation must be your top priority.”

 

Evolving multichannel strategy

 

But Schmidt warned that mobile is not the endgame; it is the start. “Three channels traditionally exist in retail – bricks and mortar, direct and catalogue and each has different customer touchpoints i.e. in bricks and mortar, the sales assistant or in direct, the phone,” he explained. “Currently mobile is a touchpoint for the online channel, but just around the corner is Facebook & Twitter, closely followed by PoS, interactive mirrors, electronic shelf labels, cars, machinery and so on, all powered by the internet.”

 

But for those looking to succeed with mobile, Schmidt concluded: “Don’t build more silos. You can’t create online as a separate unit within the retail organisation. It doesn’t work and it alienates customers. It must link with all your other channels.”