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Retail and the future of touch marketing

Mobile has no doubt changed the retail space. As new technologies surface, more retailers are joining in on the mobile craze and implementing their own strategies to successfully drive consumer engagement, as well as sales.

“A few pioneering brands are embracing omnichannel retailing and using mobile to their advantage in-store, to drive incremental revenue,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston.

“We have seen a big surge in requests for kiosk commerce, where a retail location offers their entire online catalog and is not limited to items on-hand, while still maintaining a personal, in-person connection to the consumer,” he said. “We integrate with their current etail operations, while not being bound by the one-for-all constraints of responsive design.

“A pioneer in this area is Shoe Carnival. They moved quickly from mobile, to tablet, and are now rolling out in-store kiosk commerce.”

Shopping landscape
While retail stores open and close and run low on stock, mobile commerce is always-on.

Therefore, if a site is done well and is integrated with a retailer’s ecommerce systems, the company can harness the power of mobile to both capture more sales and engage consumers.

With that, QR codes, NFC, and large, interactive touch screens are all changing the game very quickly.

“Mobile and retail will continue to converge, but smart retailers will realize that this does not mean one, single device-responsive experience is best for all consumer touch points,” Mr. Kerr said.

“While in-store sales still represent the lion’s share of revenue for most retailers, this dynamic is shifting fast,” he said. “Consider that eBay and Amazon will each generate $20 billion in mobile sales this year alone.

“Mobile means omnichannel and omnichannel means just that.”

Standing out
Currently, many marketers are doing a variety of different things to stand out in the crowd, and are constantly elevating their mobile commerce efforts to stay relevant and interesting for the customer.

Many retailers are still striving to simply achieve consistency across channels.

The real innovation comes when brands use mobile to improve outdated processes or develop enhanced, unique experiences.

Take Kate Spade Saturday’s shoppable window, for example. The initiative, which was recently launched, provides a groundbreaking framework for how touch can captivate and convert.

Kate Spade’s Saturday brand and eBay harnessed the power of mobile technology to convert a New York storefront into a shoppable window, creating a staff-less and inventory-less store.

The 24-hour shoppable window was unveiled on June 8 and eBay implemented mobile storefronts into its strategy previously to drive engagement and product sales (see story).

Mobile is requiring retailers to reprogram their entire experience by creating a second virtual layer on top of the physical world.

The medium changes the way consumers spend time in and around stores.

Furthermore, location-based messaging, buy-online-pick-up-in-store, POS, endless aisles and extended inventory are all emerging as convenience- and revenue-driving experiences.

“We expect to see a lot more experimentation as brands grow into mobile,” said Chris Mason, co-founder/CEO of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh. “Even though the big ideas are the most exciting, it is very much about baby steps.

“Once retailers lay a mobile foundation with ROI, the focus shifts to flexibly reconfiguring the data and layering on contextually-relevant functionality,” he said.

“Great mobile experiences focus on the customer journey.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York