Launching marketing apps can backfire for retailers

by Diane Shawe

more than just a phone

For a growing number of UK shoppers, the difference between off-line and on-line shopping will be no line at all.

What does this mean for retailers and marketing companies?

With an inundation of new smart phone apps these hand-held shopping tools are redefining the shopping experience and blurring the distinction between the in-store experience and the virtual world of information now available in the palm of your hand.

Advances in location-based technology, price-comparison apps, bar-code scanning apps and social-networking tools have turned the mobile device into a real-time third channel of commerce, empowering consumers while challenging retailers to rethink the way they do business.

The appetite for new apps seems voracious. A recent survey by comparison-shopping site Price Grabber revealed that 36 percent of consumers plan to use their mobile phones for shopping-related activities this holiday season.

Around 4.2m of us in the UK are already using our mobiles to access the internet and browse retailer’s e Commerce sites

Recession-wary consumers are embracing new tools that can instantly call up product specs, reviews, price comparisons and input from Facebook friends and Twitter followers, all while they’re standing in the aisle.

David Dorf the Director of Technology Strategy states ” The United Nations estimates about 60 percent of the world’s population has access to a mobile communications device. More Americans have a mobile phone than own a credit card, and an increasing number of those are smart phones capable of Internet access. This proliferation is so unlike that of any other modern-day consumer technology that it is difficult to fully measure the impact on consumers and the industries that serve them.

With what is effectively a computer in the palm of their hands, consumers are finding new ways to do everything from banking to managing healthcare and household services. Shopping is a natural fit, and the retail industry has emerged as a front line for innovation in mobile applications. The mobile commerce revolution has changed almost every aspect of the retail business, from the way that we think about customer relationships to the way that we manage inventory and complete transactions”

So where are the retailers in all this? Playing catch-up with their customers as fast as possible in most cases, often looking for the quick wins.

Shopping is changing, and while the urge to please customers, capture sales and compete with competitors is very hard to resist, as the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) pointed out in a recent survey of 57 retailers, only four had fully mobile-optimised websites.

Chris Brassington is CEO ofStarfish360 stated in a recent article “It ’s true that many retailers are launching apps and/or a mobile site in an effort to capture the mobile customer, but the survey showed that a tactical approach to mobile marketing is likely to backfire, as 82 per cent of consumers said that if a retailer’s website performed badly, it would dissuade them from buying goods from that organisation, on the web or even in store.

And in today’s social media-driven society, a poor, fragmented customer experience could turn off not only the customer who experiences it, but many more too, if that customer chooses to share their experience on the web. So getting the customer experience wrong on mobile carries a big risk”

Many retailers, instead of providing a joined up mobile experience that will enhance customer service and reduce costs, have instead bolted on a piece of technology that does not provide an integrated shopping experience. These are often bespoke builds from marketing agencies, with one eye on what the competition is doing and increasing revenue for themselves, rather than a clear focus on how their clients customers’ behaviour is changing.

We have all used the phrase ‘blind leading the blind’. In this case we often see no integration, no alignment to the business’ challenges; no strategy in terms ownership; and no cyber psychology lead program to customers needs. So instead of mobile potentially being a progressive channel, it has, in most cases, provided only frustration for the shopper.

Mobile marketing roadmap

Diane Shawe the Project Director for i-send proximity is passionate about helping not only retailers benefit from proximity based mobile commerce and marketing, but how to address the retail sector’s operational challenges when implementing a mobile commerce strategy which can be measured in real time and assist a wide cross section of mobile phone users.

I-send proximity is leading the way towards helping different Boroughs to build a private Bluetooth wide area broadcasting network within a geographical area that will benefit consumers and visitors. By using this low energy, green, permission based and wireless controlled broadcasting network , retail town centre management teams and local authority regeneration departments can implement a cost effective and cost neutral solution. Click to read more

Because we believe that playing catch-up will be significantly more expensive than taking the strategic approach. Adopting the strategic approach will provide the blueprint and the roadmap to ensure the successful implementation of mobile marketing as a consumer channel, from both a business and a strategic viewpoint.


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