Retail TouchPoints: Mobile Retailing Dissected At NRFtech Panel Discussion
By Debbie Hauss
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.
Among the topics debated during a panel around mobile retailing at the NRFtech Annual CIO Summit were business challenges, strategies for deployment, technology obstacles, industry standards and timeline for widespread implementation. While members took different positions on a number of issues, most agreed that the widespread use of mobile technology is inevitable and will likely become part of everyday business in U.S. retail within the next 2-5 years.
"We are early in the process of implementing mobile technology," said Delaney Bellinger, CIO of Yum! Brands. "Customer acceptance and adoption will be the biggest obstacles but I expect to see widespread adoption within three years." Currently Yum! is beta-testing text ordering at its Pizza Hut restaurant chain.
To date, some of the most effective mobile promotions have been targeted at a young high-school- and college-age demographic. Mobibucks offered the teens the opportunity to "Text yourself a $2 coupon" for a local business, a promotion that received an immediate response from the majority of target consumers. Then the promotion received a second lift when the students received the offer for an additional $2 coupon if they sent the promotion offer to five friends.
"If your customer base is the younger generation, then your time is today for adopting mobile solutions," said Jorge Fernandes, CEO of Mobibucks.
When retailers begin to look at the potential for mobile technology, Richard Crone, Principal of Crone Consulting, suggests they focus on three primary business opportunities:
1. Self-Service – Mobile technology can enhance retailers’ ability to provide self-service purchasing for consumers.
2. Payment Optimization – Retailers will benefit by facilitating mobile use of private label credit cards, pre-paid debit cards, and/or ACH tied to a loyalty program.
3. Marketing – By offering opt-in mobile delivery of promotions and product and service information, retailers will build a more effective database of loyal customers.
Once an enrollment strategy is in place, retailers must determine a promotion plan. Both voice and text promotions show promise, according to Mr. Crone. "Voice can be an effective combined channel enabler," he explains. Because at least 40 percent of consumers who walk into a store are already engaged with their cell phones, they are likely to respond to signage that asks them to dial a certain number to hear today’s specials.
Additionally, because response to text messages is exponentially faster than response to emails, mobile promotion shows great potential. Mr. Crone notes that the average opening time for a text message is 1-5 minutes versus 1-2 days for an email; and the average response time is five minutes for a text compared to 24 hours for an email.
Discussion Questions: What’s turning into the early challenges for retailers looking to capitalize on mobile technology? How should retailers be preparing themselves now for broader mobile access in the future?