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    Making the Retail Environment Mobile-Savvy

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    Growing popularity of mobile phones has pushed retailers to acknowledge them as a medium to connect with the customers. Time has come for retailers to accept the upcoming reality by integrating mobile technologies into retail.

    The cell phone has become an integral part of the human form, at least in India. There is little to wonder that these compact devices are fast becoming the communication medium of choice for everyone. Not just that, but today the mobile phone allows you to make payments for shopping, send and receive money, and a host of other things.

    To a retail brand, such a high level of mobile penetration like in India should be music to the ears. Consider this – the banks have all the data in the world about their customers and so do the telecom companies. As a result, they can and should run excellent loyalty and reward programmes to keep the customer-connect strong. In contrast is the case of a retail brand – unless the customer buys into the proposition at site, there is little opportunity for them to connect and build a relationship with a prospect or customer, except, of course, through ATL (Above The Line) activity and that is an expensive route.

    Smarter retail brands have already migrated from plastic to the cell phones which are the best technological invention to have graced the retail trade. Yes, the POS equipment has automated a large chunk of the number-crunching exercise but it is actually the mobile that can help keep the customers coming. Correctly put, using a mobile-based loyalty program will and can make the difference in a prospect choosing one brand over another.

    The mobile phone can be used by the retailers for customer acquisition and retention as well as for the purpose of rewarding the loyal patrons. By means of a simple short message on a product, prospects or customers can text in to connect.

    We are aware that the biggest challenge for marketing managers in India today is not knowing their customer by name. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew your customers by name, where they stay, the income group they belong to, along with the brands they prefer and the products they buy? Can you imagine how effective this information would make your marketing, sales and customer service efforts? There are simple and effective solutions already existing in the market for the retailers to do just that. These can even be used on window shoppers most effectively!

    The power of the mobile phones is far greater than anyone of us can imagine today, and retailers must use this technology to enhance their reach and engage their respective target group. Remember, any kind of data can be gathered about the customers, as explained earlier, without infringing on the law of the land. The data could contain name, address, income group, preferences, etc.

    The principle benefit of the mobile is the fact that it can create hyper-local programmes even for a unit outlet, as well as location-based LP applications that advantageously affect the bigger brands. It is inexpensive, highly reliable and, most importantly, delivers on time.

    About the Author

    Girish Khare is the chief marketing officer of Reward Port, an integrated loyalty programme management company.