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Walmart is Mobile Retailer of the Year

Walmart has been named 2012 Mobile Retailer of the Year, the highest accolade in mobile commerce and retail. The honor tops the Mobile Commerce Awards handed out each year for outstanding work that moved the mobile commerce needle for retailers, financial services firms and marketers.

While there were many worthy candidates, based on the nominations received by this publication and from its own editorial team, Mobile Commerce Daily is convinced that Walmart serves as a role model for retailers for its outstanding use of mobile.

The Mobile Retailer of the Year is the most prestigious honor for smart, strategic and creative use of the mobile medium. EBay won in 2009, Target bagged the honor in 2010 and Sears took top prize in 2011.

It is not enough to simply have a presence in the mobile commerce space. Retailers need to dominate it, and Walmart reigns.

This past year, Walmart has elevated its comprehensive 360-degree mobile commerce efforts to create a more streamlined shopping experience that incorporates various channels such as mobile applications, mobile Web, augmented reality, mobile advertising, mobile bar codes, social media, location-based services and push notifications.

To further strengthen its mobile cred, Walmart also created @WalmartLabs, a technology hub in Silicon Valley that aims to improve every part of a consumer’s journey, from finding the nearest store to deciding to go into the store and coming out with a product.

Walmart has rolled out many initiatives in 2012 including the launch of its Store Mode mobile app that uses geolocation and geofencing technology to detect when consumers enter a Walmart location.

From there, consumers check prices by scanning product bar codes and QR codes, as well as planning their shopping list and digital coupons.

Furthermore, Walmart launched its Scan & Go service in November that lets consumers save time by scanning store items with their iPhone device and bagging them while they shop.

Consumers can head to a self-checkout lane, transfer their basket wirelessly and complete their payment.

Additionally, Scan & Go consumers can receive electronic receipts through the Walmart iPhone app and access their purchase information, search historical digital receipts and add favorite items to their shopping list.

Most recently, Walmart rolled out Black Friday interactive maps that let customers view the Top 25 Black Friday items and see their location on a store map.

Today, Walmart supports customers across iPhone, iPad and Android apps, as well as the mobile Web.

In addition to mobile apps, Walmart has also dominated in augmented reality.

Earlier this year, Walmart debuted its Web Slinger augmented reality app as a key part of its promotional strategy for summer blockbuster films.

The app lets consumers interact with in-store displays to access exclusive content.

To continue its augmented reality streak, Walmart also rolled out another augmented reality app a few months later that turned the in-store shopping experience into a scavenger hunt to help promote Disney’s “The Avengers” film.

Walmart’s use of augmented reality is an example of how the mass merchandiser is embracing mobile as it looks to engage customers via cutting-edge technology.

Walmart is not afraid to think outside the box.

Instead of going the traditional route and placing QR codes on in-store displays, the company decided to take a different tack.

The company partnered with consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble to put QR codes on bus shelters and trucks and encourage on-the-go consumers to scan and instantly buy P&G products from brands such as Tide, Pampers and Gillette.

The campaign targeted urban shoppers in Chicago and New York and let consumers save on limited-edition everyday essentials.

There were 12 bus shelters along the Magnificent Mile and Michigan Avenue in Chicago that were wrapped in a pop-up store experience.

The mobile storefronts featured nine limited-edition Olympic SKUs, as well as mobile bar codes next to products such as Bounty towels, Iams dog food and Pampers Cruisers.

When consumers scanned the QR codes, they were redirected to Walmart’s mobile site where they were able buy the products.

Additionally, there was a P&G truck touring New York that gave out samples to consumers passing by, which included samples from some of the limited-edition items.

Consumers were also given takeout menus featuring QR codes that let them shop the products, no matter where they were.

Walmart has also used mobile advertising quite a bit to not only drive in-store foot traffic to its locations, but bolster its mobile site sales as well.

The company also teamed up with American Express to launch a prepaid card called Bluebird, with mobile playing a key role in simplifying deposits, account management and person-to-person payments.

Walmart is proving that it is important for retailers to test the waters when it comes to mobile and not rely solely on one channel to drive engagement and sales.

“Almost every facet of our lives has been transformed by a smartphone, but when you walk into a store – and that’s where over 90 percent of retail happens – your shopping experience is still very much what it was 10 or 20 years ago,” said Gibu Thomas, senior vice president of mobile and digital at Walmart.

“The possibility of mobile bringing the Web to the store is incredibly disruptive,” he said. “Ecommerce brought the store to the Web and mobile brings the Web to the store.

“Our biggest opportunity in mobile is to drive offline-influenced retail sales with these capabilities, making it easier for our customers to shop with us.”

Here are the winners of the nine other Mobile Commerce Awards:

Mobile Bank of the Year: Chase
Chase is Mobile Bank of the Year for the second year in a row because of its continuous drive to make mobile banking as seamless as possible for its customers.

Chase has a fully-comprehensive 360-degree strategy that encompasses mobile apps, mobile Web, check scans, QR codes, SMS, MMS and mobile advertising.

Part of J.P. Morgan Chase, the financial institution has many things going for it. For one, the speed of its mobile apps and optimized site is great and loads up quickly – a must-have for on-the-go bankers. Secondly, Chase’s branding is evident through every one of its mobile efforts.

Finally, and most importantly, everything Chase has been doing over the past year leads back to its mobile offerings.

For example, Chase runs several commercials on television that promote its mobile apps.

Additionally, its mobile advertising and mobile bar code campaigns aim to drive downloads of its mobile apps, as well as promote the bank’s optimized site.

Mobile Merchandiser of the Year: Rue La La
Flash sale sites are leading the way when it comes to merchandising on mobile.

This year, Rue La La has done an impeccable job ensuring its mobile shoppers have a enjoyable experience when searching for products.

When it comes to merchandising, product presentation is key and important for flash sales sites specifically.

Rue La La’s mobile merchandising techniques help drive the company’s sales.

The company’s mobile app showcases the ongoing boutique sales. When consumers tap on a specific boutique, they can filter their search by brand and category.

From there, consumers can browse and view details of the products featured.

The Rue La La mobile app also includes a Right Now tab that lets consumers browse the most popular products of the moment.

Moreover, consumers can preview upcoming sales and browse their account.

Mobile Commerce Researcher of the Year: ForeSee
The mobile commerce space is growing at a rapid pace and ForeSee helps make sense of the mounds of data generated.

ForeSee stands out because of its insight into the customer experience from a mobile perspective.

The reports produced this year focused on mobile shopping, commerce, financial institutions, retailers and other trends in the mobile commerce space.

Each report highlighted strides that mobile commerce marketers took this year and dove deeply into how the medium is changing different industries for the better.

Mobile CRM Program of the Year: Macy’s
When it comes to mobile, marketers must think long-term. No one does that better than Macy’s.

The retailer’s CRM program is like no other and Macy’s promotes it in any way possible.

Macy’s has various calls to action featured throughout its in-store locations, as well as through email blasts.

Consumers can opt-in to the program by texting a keyword to the short code 62297.

From there, the relationship starts.

Consumers get alerted of upcoming sales, discounts and other reminders.

The CRM program is effective because it lets Macy’s connect with its mobile shoppers on a much deeper level.

Not only is the retailer building up its mobile database, but it is also continuing an ongoing dialogue that lets the company keep new and loyal customers up-to-date on the latest events.

Mobile Commerce Program of the Year: Target
Target is no stranger to creating interactive mobile commerce experiences.

This year, its QR code initiative stood above the rest.

Through the campaign, Target let consumers scan the mobile bar codes featured on several products in-store and buy the items via their smartphones.

Target used QR codes in-store to promote the season’s 20 most popular toys. By using the Target mobile application, consumers were able to scan the QR codes and buy the items.

What made the program stand out was that it helped make holiday shopping secret, a must-have for consumers who were shopping for presents with friends and family at a Target location and wanted to keep their gift purchases under wraps.

Target also placed the mobile bar codes in its direct mail pieces to further get the word out about the initiative.

Mobile Commerce Web Site of the Year: Amazon
When it comes to a mobile site, simplicity is best and Amazon is the king of simple.
Amazon’s mobile site loads up quickly – a big plus – and prominently features a search feature on the top of the screen.

Search plays a big role for Amazon and the company is smart to place it at the forefront of its mobile site to help increase the shopping experience.

What really makes the mobile site stand out is that it is customized for each customer.

The homescreen features a carousel of personalized recommendations for users.

Additionally, consumers can shop by different categories including books, Kindle, movies, music, games and electronics.

Amazon’s 1-Click feature is definitely the mobile site’s standout amenity and lets consumers buy products with one click, which is essential for keeping busy customers happy and shopping.

Mobile Commerce Application of the Year: Walmart
To have an effective mobile retail app strategy, there are key ingredients needed for success.

Walmart’s mobile app is a clear winner because it redefines the multichannel shopping experience.

The mobile app features a mobile self-checkout that lets consumers save time by scanning store items with their mobile device and eliminating the need to wait in line for standard checkout.

The retailer also introduced electronic receipts into its app that lets customers receive electronic receipts and access purchase history.

For the holidays, Walmart updated its app to present users with a surprise holiday gift wrap when they first launched the app.

Consumers were encouraged to shake their device to unwrap and discover new features built for holiday shopping, which included special landing pages and shopping guides that highlighted merchandising carousels with the latest holiday collections.

Continually updating mobile apps is essential and helps retailers keep consumers on their toes.

All of Walmart’s updates throughout the app aimed to simplify and streamline the overall shopping experience.

Mobile Commerce Technology of the Year: Passbook
Many marketers were upset when Apple did not introduce near field communication technology into its iPhone 5.

However, its Passbook mobile app is a game-changer for retailers.

The mobile commerce space is not quite ready for NFC. Both marketers and consumers are not too educated about the technology and much has to happen before it truly takes off.

Apple’s Passbook, on the other hand, seems to be a clear winner for many marketers such as Sephora, Target and Walgreens.

The technology helps build loyalty, drive consumer engagement and bolster in-store traffic.

The service lets marketers engage mobile users get location-based offers from participating companies and redeem them at the point-of-sale using their iPhone device.

Through Passbook, consumers can store their loyalty cards, promotions, coupons and tickets.

Apple’s Passbook has already seen success.

Sephora saw 82,000 of its Beauty Insider cards added to Passbook just a week after its release. That number continues to grow daily.

Mobile Commerce Evangelist of the Year: Gary Schwartz, CEO of Impact Mobile
Gary Schwartz has been at the frontlines of the mobile industry for over a decade and is the author of two books, “The Impulse Economy: Understanding Mobile Shoppers” and “Fast Shopper. Slow Store: A Guide to Courting and Capturing the Mobile Consumers,” both of which highlight the current state of the mobile commerce space and chronicle the significant impact that the mobile revolution is having on retailers.

As the chair of MEF North America, Mr. Schwartz focused on developing a mobile commerce practice and creating mobile commerce security and privacy guidelines.

Toronto-based Mr. Schwartz is also chair emeritus mobile for the Interactive Advertising Bureau and chair of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. As president of Impact Mobile for the past 12 years, he has helped retailers leverage mobile technology to advance their marketing goals.

With boundless energy, Mr. Schwartz is ready to praise mobile’s virtues to marketers, retailers and agencies. Besides his books, Mr. Schwartz takes time to speak at events and even organize them, the latest being the Multi-Screen Summit. He has clocked mobile miles like no other executive in the business.

The Mobile Commerce Daily Awards were judged by the Mobile Commerce Daily editorial team for overall excellence in mobile commerce, marketing and retail from a strategic, creative, tactical, executional and results standpoint. All work considered had to be published in Mobile Commerce Daily in 2012. All judging was based purely on merit.

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