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MOBILITY – Driving Retailers To Take It Up A Notch

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The Retail industry today has evolved incorporating multiple technology channels which are furthering sales. The increased penetration of smart phones and affordable internet tariff plans has further infused new life to the already flourishing sector. Mobility is a boon to retailers as much as it is for customers.

Consumers draw the benefits from the discounts offered by the retailers through personalized mobile marketing, resulting from strong user data analytics. They embrace their mobile devices and use them to manage their day-today tasks, and shop through them extensively, permanently altering the traditional mode of purchasing. On the other hand mobility empowers retailers to extend offerings at each customers touch point. With such technological advancements, targeting the customer with definite promotions is no more a challenge irrespective of their location.

Retailers are facing enormous competition and to keep abreast they need to adopt the innovative edge of serving better to customers, gaining their confidence and most importantly improvising on customer experience. Technology is their first choice, when it comes to innovation and that is where they are adopting mobility as a channel to package themselves differently to cater to different customers. Considering the proficiency of Smartphones, Tablets and Phablets, mobility has already achieved a mainstream status in the industry.

A recent survey  concluded by a leading technology research firm depicts that in the fourth quarter of 2013, vendors shipped a total of 284.4 million smartphones worldwide, considering the growth the number is expected to go further -. The sudden rise of the mobile and smart phone usage has taken almost every industry by its strides. All the technological advancements that have been observed in the retail industry were mostly developed to ensure customer satisfaction and enhanced customer experience, leading to increase in sales and customer base. Today’s discerning customers have easy access to a lot of information on everything. They easily distinguish precisely about what they want to buy and where to buy it from. The factors that influenced the decisions of the buyers earlier have now gone beyond just value and price which previously ruled their purchase decisions. Today, they also consider factors such as brand recognition, customer service, buying & delivery channels, and store environment amongst others. To retain existing and gain new customers it is imperative to meet consumers’ expectations and splurged demands – thanks to the ultra-connected world that we live in. On one side the retailers are making the maximum use of mobility to deliver exceptional customer experience, the customers on the other side can now go shop or know about products on the move. This implies that mobility is empowering both the parties equally. According to a research done by Deloitte, 85 percent consumers using retailer apps for shopping actually make a purchase as compared to the 64 percent who do not use applications. This indicates that more and more customers are now turning towards mobile apps.

Technological Innovations in mobile space that are reshaping retail landscape are -:

Geo fencing:
 This can be described as a virtual fencing around an area which is termed as a digital geo fenced store. Anyone who crosses or enters that area equipped with a smart phone could be offered geo targeted ads or coupons. Consumers are required to switch to a “Store Mode” in such stores. The Store mode detects the shopping list on their phones and shows them aisles where required products are located along with product price. Further, this technology will not be limited to stores; retailers are making smart phones work for them. The experts are talking about applications that will cover an individual with Geo fence that will move along with them. These applications would sense when the user enters into the store and would send personalized offer’s such as rewards, special warranties, installation and accessories associated with the product based on the item they scan using the mobile app.

Sensing Devices: These devices are now being used by retailers to sense the customer’s mood and flash offer’s to influence their purchase decisions, basis that mood. The sensing device is also capable of capturing data from membership cards, it can collect data like points accumulated, time, season and temperature and can smartly present offers to the customers based on the information collected. There are also sensing devices that can read stored songs in a phone. Imagine trying a dress in a trial room and the sensing device reads stored songs from your phone’s music player and plays one of them while you admire yourself in the mirror.

Augmented Retail: Augmented Retail is all about creating a virtual world on top of the real world by enabling consumers to visualize the products such as jewelry, watches, clothing, and furniture; as they would actually appear in the stores or on you. It enables consumers to change colours and style, with a single click on their smartphones. For instance, consumers can use an app to try watches just by placing their hand in front of the webcam. This enables them to see and try several watches by seeing them virtually on their hand. Similarly they can try multiple glasses, dresses, furniture, hand bags, nail paints etc.

Instant Payments on Mobile: Often customers have to wait in queues to get to the billing counter but this problem has also been resolved by something called QR codes. A few stores are already taking advantage of this recent development, where the associates at the stores are given devices that can read QR codes and the associates themselves can process payments without having the customers to wait in long queues.

Location Accuracy: By adopting location based technology, retailers can help their customers locate the nearest store location, which again results in driving in- store traffic. Also, offering discounts on ‘check-ins’ is a great way to attract the customer to your location! Retailers also make offers to customers that help them retain reward points and later buy a product using those points instead of making payments in real money. By doing this and by giving other offers such as coupon codes, a retailer can actually analyze the customer’s buying and spending behavior, thus eventually increasing his sales.

Drones Delivery:  In addition to mobile gadgets, the mobility in order delivery will surely be impacted by Drones. Although they  are still being tested and administrative clearances are awaited, sees huge potential in the cluttered market place. Drones which are very common in western countries are making their place here as well. It was recently tested for delivering Pizzas by Francesco’s Pizzeria (A pizza Outlet in South Mumbai). Amazon too has tested drones to capture tiger movements in Madhya Pradesh and Idea Forge has deployed drones for crowd control and disaster management. They are also in demand by Real Estates and cinematographers who want to use drones for shooting films and ads.

The advent of Mobility in the retail industry helps the stores to stay connected with the customers in a better way. It also enables them to notify their customers of their upcoming promotional offers, discount coupons; new in-store inventory etc, which in turn helps increase sales. Customer satisfaction for retailers is a big advantage as it leads to brand loyalty and boost sales.