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HotelTonight exec: Use predictive marketing to meet mobile needs

As mobile continues to grow, retailers will need to preemptively react to consumers’ needs, according to industry experts who participated in a Mobile Commerce Daily webinar yesterday.

During the “Mobile Commerce Outlook 2014: Up, Down or Flat?” webinar, executives from HotelTonight, Bib & Tuck, DDB Chicago and Zoove discussed the biggest lessons learned in 2013 and what merchants can expect from mobile in the year ahead. Merchants should anticipate that consumer expectations with mobile to build to the point where marketers offer relevant information without a consumer having to ask for it.

“It’s this notion of retailers becoming more context aware, whether through explicit signals or through implicit signals,” said Jared Simon, chief operating officer of HotelTonight, San Francisco. “The best retailers in mobile are going to know what a user wants before they say it. Whether it’s making a hotel reservation after a flight delay.

“I think there are going to be a lot of retailers who get caught by surprise with what’s necessary to survive in that world,” he said.

The webinar was sponsored by Zoove.

Changing expectations
This coming year, consumer expectations on mobile will continue to rise. Simply having a responsive Web site will not cut it anymore.

Retailers will have to listen to their consumers and innovate to create compelling mobile experiences.

As consumers become more accustomed to mobile, their behaviors and values have shifted. There is now a greater sense of urgency and immediacy on mobile.

“I think we’ve been trained as consumers for a long time that we have to wait for the things we really like,” Mr. Simon said. “Having the Web in our pocket is starting to retrain everyone to the extent that it’s a natural human instinct to want instant gratification.

“Mobile presents a real DNA shift from doing business in brick-and-mortar or on the Web,” he said. “You’ve got to be nimble, and you have to push the right message at the right time to reach them or someone else will.”

Consumers will also be looking for more personalized experiences.

Retailers will be expected to look at past purchasing history and various behaviors and data to cater the mobile experience on an individual basis.

“The mobile device is just too small so figuring out how to provide very strong algorithmic recommendations will be critical if you want to cater to a mass audience,” said Sari Azout, co-founder of Bib & Tuck, New York.

In-store enhancements
The webinar participants also discussed the increasing importance of leveraging mobile in-store.

As retailers begin to embrace showrooming as a reality, they should focus on transforming the bricks-and-mortar experience to encourage consumers to convert in-store.

Dirk Rients, senior vice president and director of mobile at DDB Chicago, pointed to the Beacon as this coming year’s possible breakout star. He believes the technology will be the most talked about in 2014.

In terms of how users will be checking out, Mr. Rients believes that retailers ultimately need to focus on the consumer and how they prefer to pay. Whether or not that is a credit card or Google Wallet is up to the consumer.

Whether or not retailers specifically roll out the Beacon or a specific mcommerce service, they will need to consider how they can enhance the in-store experience via mobile.

Retailers such as Walmart are creating in-store modes with maps of specific locations down to the aisle. Others are notifying consumers of inventory information.

“The conversation is quickly moving from who owns payments to what it means that a retailer can change the in-store experience,” said Joe Gillespie, president/CEO of Zoove. “The whole content experience for retail, it’s a breakout moment where they can stop thinking about showrooming and think about really dynamic content experiences. That to me is what’s going to drive people to the cart, physically or digitally.”

Please click here to access the archived webinar

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York