Mobile Is a Critical Customer Engagement Channel

Mobile has been a buzzword in the loyalty industry for many years now as companies try to find ways to use it efficiently with their respective customers. Some brands swear by mobile and the potential customer engagement benefits it carries, while others remain leery taking a wait-and-see approach.

For Dr. Windsor Holden, Research Director for U.K.-based Juniper Research, there is no gray area when it comes to mobile’s potential impact on the customer experience.

“Mobile is more than a purchasing mechanism,” Holden told Loyalty360. “It’s a critical engagement channel.”

Juniper Research just released a report that says mobile retail purchases will exceed $700 billion annually by 2018 ─ representing 30% of all eRetail purchases. The $707 billion predicted for 2018 compares to $182 billion spent last year in mobile retail, accounting for 15% of eRetail.

$707 billion by 2018, representing 30% of all eRetail by that time. This compares with mobile retail spend of $182 billion last year, when mobile accounted for around 15% of eRetail.

According to the report, “Mobile Payment for Digital & Physical Goods: Opportunities & Forecast 2014-2018,” revealed that leading retailers were increasingly developing strategies built around mobile, using it as a ‘hub’' facilitating payment, product discovery, and customer retention.

As a result, it found that the size and scale of purchases across both smartphones and tablets was increasing strongly. However, for users owning both devices there was a strong trend toward browsing on the mobile while completing the purchase on the tablet, and that by the end of 2013, global per month retail spend on tablets had eclipsed that on handsets.

Holden spoke to the impact the report’s findings will have on global retail.

“I think it presents retailers with a significant opportunity to increase engagement with the consumer,” he said. “The more proactive retailers are already seeking to marry their digital and physical assets in a variety of ways – from delivering targeted coupons to drive footfall, in some cases delivering those coupons to the mobile device when the consumers are in or near the store. But retailers also need to ensure that their sites and apps are enabled for retail purchases – that allows the consumers to buy when they want, where they want.”

Are companies moving too slow or too fast with mobile?

“It really depends on the retailer in question,” Holden said. “Some have been tremendously proactive – Argos in the U.K. is a case in point, where a significant proportion of its sales are now being driven through the mobile channels. Meanwhile, companies like Target and Best Buy have adapted to the show-rooming trend – where consumers browse in-store on the mobile device and often return home to buy from an online retailer – by encouraging it: They’ve given their staff tablets to enable consumers to compare prices in-store and they’ll then price match against selected stores.”

According to the report, retailers need to adapt their strategies to incorporate show-rooming by deploying tablets equipped with mPOS (mobile Point of Sale) capability throughout the store, while also introducing a price match option.

Bottom line?

“They (retailers) need to remember that the online customer and the in-store customer is the same person,” Holden said. “It’s just that that person needs (and increasingly wants) an array of purchasing mechanisms.”

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