How Mobile Will Continue to Create the World's Largest Store in Every PocketJanuary 6, 2014 By Christophe Marcant
Retailers face an intensely competitive marketplace with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. With the emergence of a greater variety of retail channels, an abundance of product options and easy online price comparisons, consumers now demand greater service and lower prices. The ability to ensure that the right product is available at the right place and at the right time is absolutely critical, and merchants that can act more quickly tend to come out on top.
The growth of smartphones and tablets, unlimited data packages, and the emergence of 4G have created the perfect environment for mobile commerce to flourish. According to a Forrester Research report, m-commerce will be worth $31 billion by 2016, highlighting the rich opportunities available to retailers that implement a solid mobile strategy.
As the environment ripens for m-commerce, retailers need to ensure they're offering a usable and compelling shopping experience either through an optimized mobile website or a specific application. Without this, mobile devices will continue to be regarded as a simple browsing tool rather than a means to shop and transact.
So regardless of the channel, consumers will continue to demand accurate and consistent product information when researching and buying products. A mobile website or app that lacks information about products (e.g., descriptions and size guides) will impede consumer purchases and in turn have a negative impact on the bottom line. Retailers need to place more value on managing their product information or risk losing customers. So while it's important for retailers to improve their mobile offerings, they need to ensure that any activity is underpinned with an omnichannel master data management solution to help ensure consistency across every customer touchpoint and achieve a coherent omnichannel experience.
Today's shoppers engage with retailers using a range of online and offline channels to research products, read reviews and determine which retail outlet offers the best deal. This trend will undoubtedly continue well into 2014. In fact, a Shop.org/comScore report found that from June 2012 to June 2013, retail grew 49 percent as a content category on smartphones, only behind beauty and fashion, home and lifestyle, and instant messaging services.
Consumers are doing more than just shopping on their mobile devices. Aside from hunting for the best deal, they're also turning to social media channels to share information with friends about products and services. However, mobile success often boils down to the content that retailers provide. Therefore, the channel needs to be seen as a bridging technology instead of as a means of completing sales. Consumers are using their mobile phones for browsing, but they're also increasingly using them to compare prices in-store. A mobile strategy should capture that behavior and provide them with the right information and service to retain that customer.