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IOS 8 to help retailers streamline mcommerce experiences, enhance social sharing

Apple latest mobile operating system update, iOS 8, is likely to have several implications for retailers, the biggest of which could be from making Touch ID available to third party developers, extensions and widgets.

IOS updates are typically quickly adopted by iPhone owners, meaning iOS 8’s implications could felt as soon as the upcoming holiday season, as the software will roll out in the fall. This means retailers should be thinking now about to take advantage of the new offerings.

“We are very excited about Touch ID for third-party apps,” said

Maya Mikhailov, executive vice president and co-founder of GPShopper. “Exposing Touch ID in retail apps means that mobile shoppers will no longer have to remember their passwords.

“This will lead to easier log-in and undoubtedly higher app cart conversion,” she said. “Touch ID will also make mobile wallet and mobile card adoption easier for the same reasons.

“No more digging around your purse looking for that lost store or loyalty card to get discounts. Those of us who have been using Touch ID to buy apps from iTunes, which according to Apple is above 80 percent of iPhone5 users, know the huge impact it has on app download ease.”

Touch ID
Apple revealed the details about iOS 8 at its Worldwide Developer Conference early this week.

IPhone owners are likely to quickly update to the new OS once it becomes available in the fall.

According to Apple, almost nine out of 10 consumers in its install base are running the latest version of iOS, which was introduced in the fall of 2013.

One of the new development is the availability of Touch ID to third-party developers.

Until now, the fingerprint authentication technology could only be used for Apple-related functions such as unlocking a phone, purchasing apps and digital goods from iTunes and the App Store.

With iOS 8, anyone who makes an iPhone app will be able to enable fingerprint authentication, meaning users of their apps can log-in without the need for a  password or username.

This will go a long way toward streamlining the mobile user experience and could have a big impact on how much apps are used.

Push  marketing
Widgets could also have a big impact for retailers, enabling users to get quick information in the Notification Center. For example, users could easily pull up Wish Lists and access all Wish Lists from one central place.

Widgets could be developed to track price or stock alerts and issue notifications when an item is available or on sale.

Another development is interactive push notifications that can be enabled with Like, Comment, Reply or Confirm from the Action Screen.

Interactive notifications and widgets could be impactful for retailers who already have a well-developed push marketing strategy in place.

“Wish Lists, Shopping Lists and more can now be easily made available on the notification screen,” Ms. Mikhailov said. “Combine that with relevant promotions and retailers have a powerful new tool to release timely information to on-the-go shoppers.

“We have already started experimenting with adding our ‘Price Alerts’ platform feature as a Widget, which means if an item a shopper has saved to their Wish List goes on sale, they will be instantly notified,” she said.

Social sharing
With extensions, apps will be able to work together.

For retailers, this could mean making it much easier to enable social sharing, an increasingly important part of the shopping experience for consumers.

“I believe ‘Extensions’ could have a big impact for retailers,” said Paul Alvarez, vice president of sales and business development at Atimi, Vancouver, Canada.

“A key part of a retailer’s mobile strategy should be social engagement,” he said. “In fact some retailers are starting to view social and mobile as one and the same, can’t have one without the other.

“With ‘Extensions’, retailers will be able to make sharing, beyond the social media platforms with APIs,  your purchases, wish lists, etc with friends and family a much more seamless and integrated experience. We would expect that you could share data without leaving the app you’re in, or having to cut and paste your info.”

For retailers that can move quickly, these new features could provide an important competitive advantage during the upcoming holiday season as consumers continue to make smartphones a bigger part of the shopping experience.

The focus should be on social engagement and integration, location-based services and push messaging.

“Besides BLE beacon support, which was introduced in the last update, we are seeing that Apple is continuing to push location features such as Popular Near Me and the ability to share your location with friends,” GPShopper’s Ms. Mikhailov said.