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Mobile fits the retail strategy: OpenMarket

With the ever-growing popularity of smartphones, mobile continues to offer retailers the opportunity to provide product information, stock availability, discounts, coupons, loyalty programs and new payment options.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Giselle Tsirulnik interviewed Jay Emmet, general manager at OpenMarket, Seattle, regarding the opportunities that mobile offers retailers. Here is what he said:

What are the top retail trends in mobile that you expect in 2010?
This year, I think we can expect to see more retailers leveraging mobile to communicate with and learn about consumers who currently are only contacted via traditional push email methods.

As retailers utilize mobile’s interactive advantages, they will begin to integrate with current CRM systems and target specific offers to individuals, maximizing the value that mobile brings to the organization.

In addition, we will start to see cutting edge retailers take advantage of new technologies that Android and other phones now offer, such as augmented reality, to promote their products.

What opportunities does mobile offer retailers?
Mobile enables retailers to quickly and easily reach consumers wherever they are with relevant deals and offers.

Whether offering coupons, comparison shopping applications or mobile payment options, retailers can make the shopping experience much more convenient and effective through mobile programs.

By providing all the tools and information that consumers need to make purchases available on their mobile devices, retailers can drive more in-store traffic and ultimately increase sales.

Additionally, because mobile is a two-way communication method, retailers can request and receive consumer feedback on individual preferences or a specific product.

This feedback can help improve products and product offerings, or more effectively target the individual consumer.

Finally, mobile is cost effective and much of this communication with consumers can be accomplished at a very reasonable expense.

What are some best practices for retailers going mobile in 2010?
1. Leverage you current customer base to engage in mobile. This can help retailers learn more about their current loyalty base, while providing a new communication channel to stay top of mind.

2. Optimize your current marketing efforts by including mobile calls to action. An example would be asking consumers to sign up for mobile coupons or sale of the week text alerts.

3. Ensure that your mobile Web experience is relevant to both your customer and your product. Ask yourself, what are you trying to accomplish, what action do you want your consumers to take based on the site, what is the essential information you want to impart on consumers? (Note: the mobile site should not be a replica of your Web site)

4. Use mobile to drive more bang for your buck. For example, if you are a retailer that sponsors a major TV show each year, mobile should be part of that marketing effort and driving unique viewers to the event. This can be done by offering mobile voting on the consumer’s favorite outfit, promoting the event via mobile advertising, or driving consumers to text in to order the product immediately.

5. Use mobile to build the sense of immediacy via in-store and limited time offers, and encourage virality through mobile send-to-friend programs.

How does mobile fit the retail strategy? What are retailers’ goals and how can mobile help achieve them?
Of the retailers that I’ve spoken with, most are looking for new ways to target consumers with more relevant and real-time offers.

Mobile provides a new touch point for retailers to reach their customers, whether in-store or when considering a future purchase.

Mobile also helps retailers cut down on costs associated with printing coupons and print mailings, while reaching a more targeted audience in real time.

These mobile offers can be customized for each customer according to their location and preferences. Mobile can also reflect a brand image.

For instance, brands perceived as cutting edge or sexy are using Bluetooth and augmented reality programs to help solidify this image.

Mobile can also get the conversation started with consumers, unlike TV or direct mailers.

Finally, mobile helps consumers always have the brand and their offers on hand.

There is no need to remember to take the coupon to the store, or to print it before leaving the house.

The offer is always there, on the phone, dismissing the excuse that the consumer will come back later.

What are the loyalty-related opportunities mobile offers retailers?
Retailers can use mobile loyalty programs to extend the reach of existing loyalty card programs for on-the-go consumers or to launch new digital programs.

Mobile loyalty programs can offer customers additional flexibility by eliminating the need for membership cards.

Customers can increase their savings by always having their membership available on their phone and never worrying about a lost card.

By sending promotions or coupons directly to consumers’ mobile devices, retailers can simplify the purchase process.

What do you expect in terms of mobile payment options in 2010? What are some challenges of mobile payments?
More mobile payment options are emerging, including direct operator billing (without SMS) driven by application stores.

However, wireless carriers are considering other payment methods as well, such as WAP payments, micropayments, money transfers, and mobile banking.

BOBO (billing on behalf of) functionality offers a tremendous, untapped opportunity for wireless carriers.

Having an established billing relationship and high brand credibility with subscribers is a fundamental competitive advantage for mobile operators.

By offering BOBO functionality to trusted partners, mobile operators can leverage and monetize this unique advantage, and establish a stronger position in the mobile value chain.

One of the challenges of BOBO includes renegotiating revenue splits with carriers.

With most retail goods, retaining only a small portion of the retail price after carrier, aggregator, and mobile marketer split may make BOBO unprofitable for retailers.