Reshaping Retail with Mobility

It’s no secret that people are forming personal attachments to their iPhones, Android phones, and other “smartphone” devices.

In fact, in a recent Pew Research Center study, respondents used adjectives such as “awesome,” “great,” “essential,” “indispensable,” “good,” and “excellent” to describe how they feel about their treasured mobile devices.

This love affair is driving skyrocketing sales of smartphones: by 2015, eMarketer estimates that 58 percent of all mobile users in the United States (149 million people) will own smartphones, while in the European Union, more than 50 percent will own them by 2014.Mobility—driven largely by the exponential growth of smartphones—is having a major impact on the retail industry. With this in mind, the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) has identified four key areas where retailers can experience the greatest benefits from mobility, including lower customer acquisition costs, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, greater revenues, and improved staff productivity:

  1. Mobile marketing is about connecting with customers and making sure the shopping journey leads back to the retailer. It is also important for retailers to understand how to be present at the “mobile moment” (when customers are ready to buy on their mobile devices) with the right offering. For example, permission-based personal messaging can double response rates. According to Mobile Marketer, Adidas experienced a 35 percent response rate on one of its mobile marketing campaigns in 2010.
  2. Shopper services impact the mobile buying experience, no matter where the consumer is—at home, on the go, or in your store. These services also include providing post-sale activities such as support and returns. When done right, shopper services save consumers time and money, and deliver the best mobile shopping experience possible. The stickiness of relevant brand-differentiating services locks in a larger group of high-spending customers. These services create greater loyalty and generate more sales per customer.
  3. Mobile payments can take place at the point of sale (POS), on the web, and in stores. By understanding how customers like to shop, retailers can use mobile payments to increase sales and strengthen customer loyalty. Mobility can reduce checkout times by 40 percent to 60 percent per transaction. This increases staff productivity and improves customer service.Certain mobile-payment systems also allow retailers to enter into a two-way dialogue based on information customers are prepared to share. This creates more profitable up-selling and cross-selling opportunities, and enables new location-based services.
  4. Store operations focus on the work processes that make retail infrastructure run smoothly, such as ordering, inventory, and workforce management. Retailers can use mobility to streamline these functions by providing information where and when it is needed, enabling quicker, smarter decisions and the ability to solve issues on the spot. Mobility can also free up staff to better serve customers and improve worker productivity. Mobile store operations have the potential to improve task management, regulatory compliance, staff communication, and customer service.

As retailers reshape their businesses to keep pace with technology- and Internet-savvy consumers and competitors, the following recommendations will help them achieve their business objectives with mobility:

  • Define a unique, brand-relevant mobile proposition (do not copy).
  • Develop solutions specifically for customers’ “mobile moments.” Spend the time needed to truly understand how customers are using mobility to shop with the retailer’s brand.
  • Involve all relevant business functions (share the fun). For mobile solutions to succeed, they must incorporate capabilities across multiple business functions.
  • Actively solicit feedback (listen and act immediately).
  • Continuously rethink consumer processes and store operations using both current and emerging capabilities (continuous innovation). By continuously innovating, retailers will ensure their mobility solutions stay up to date and provide maximum benefit.


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