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38pc of retailers have adopted mobile: Aberdeen study

The study found that 57 percent of retailers are looking for new sales and service channels to increase revenue. The mobile phone has emerged as a potential channel for revenue growth.  

“Mobile’s extent of adoption was 18 percent amongst retailers at the end of 2008,” said Sahir Anand, vice president and principle analyst at Aberdeen Research, Boston. “What has happened since then is the proliferation of smartphones and improvements to technology has upped the retailer excitement for mobile.

“We have seen a number of retailers that have launched mobile plans,” he said. “There have been a lot of mobile Web deployments, mobile apps and we are seeing a lot of customer-centric applications.

“Currently 38 percent of retailers have adopted mobile in some stage of deployment.”

Mobile retail strides
Aberdeen surveyed 129 retailers between July and August to reveal that 38 percent of respondents are currently at some stage of mobile retail technology or mobile channel adoption, compared to 18 percent at the end of 2008.

Another 50 percent of respondents are looking to adopt this technology – 15 percent within the next year and the rest considering planned adoption at some point in the future.

Mr. Anand cited Home Depot as one of the companies that has made strides in mobile retail.

The company has a mobile-optimized site and is now launching a platform that deals with mobile messaging between the customer and the brand.

Additionally, Best Buy and others are integrating mobile into the in-store shopping experience.

Mobile retail functionalities
Retailers have been using mobile both in-store and for outside sales such the mobile Web.

Mobile is being used as a marketing tool by retailers as well. For example, mobile is used for dynamic location-based messaging for merchandise promotions, mobile couponing, advertising and loyalty programs.

As of recently, retailers have begun to explore proximity and non-proximity payment-related functions at the store or outside the store.

Mobile works well for order management, clienteling and customer feedback.

Other retail functions such as line-busting and mobile-phone based reporting and performance management is also something that a few retailers have begun to try out.

Additionally, service and repair functions have been incorporated into specialized mobile applications.

“Integrating mobile into the in-store experience is going to be a big disruption in the mobile retail space,” Mr. Anand said.

Cross-channel retail tool
What is capturing the imagination of retailers is the expanded utility of the consumer’s mobile phone as a cross-channel retail tool in the physical brick and mortar stores for promotional coupon delivery, dynamic merchandise and point of purchase decision messaging, automatic check-in and product alerts, according to Aberdeen’s report.

Data shows that location-based messaging is one of the ways that retailers can bridge the gap between mobile and a physical store location.

Location-based messaging is a current or planned mobile initiative for 33 percent of retailers and can be enabled via store location proximity SMS and GPS.

For instance, Best Buy recently activated customer identification and dynamic reward offerings for its mobile customers who visit stores for browsing or shopping. Best Buy adopted a location-based mobile messaging retail application.

Mobile ROI
Improved customer targeting for higher response rates and a decrease in marketing costs are two specific performance areas where retailers have so far received an ROI, according to Aberdeen.

However, improved brand image (88 percent) and customer satisfaction (81 percent) are the top two benchmarks for mobile ROI success that retailers expect to receive in the coming months and years.

This shows that overall service and sales satisfaction, customer-centricity and brand value are highly correlated with mobile innovation and related investments.

“Retailers need to complete a very extensive gap analysis on where channel integration touch points are,” Mr. Anand said.  “Half of them want to improve the customer experience.

“Mobile has to be aligned with other channels,” he said. “That is when mobile becomes the integrator. “It correlates well with other channels.

“Retailers need to learn from their online and call center strategies. Also, the consumer opt-in process is important.”

Please click here to view the enitre report