In a Retail Times exclusive, Russell Buckley, CMO of mobile marketing company, Eagle Eye, and chairman, Simon Burke, predict the top retail trends for 2012
1. More retailers will use the mobile phone as part of the full in-store experience
Rather than using mobile as just part of their communications strategy, we’re already seeing retailers position mobile as an integral part of the overall shopping experience, both in-store and through digital channels. In 2012, we will see more mobile at the heart of retailers’ product offerings, with the likes of gift vouchers, and loyalty cards, as part of their in-store engagement programme. The rollout of in-store WiFi networks will accelerate this growth, with retailers becoming savvy enough to invest in order to reap the rewards.
2. Mobile payments
While we firmly believe mobile payments will replace cash and credit cards at some point, it’s certainly not going to happen in 2012. However, 2012 will be the year the trend really starts to take hold. Some serious moves by some big players, as well as startups will make this area one to watch in 2012.
3. In-store price comparison
Already 30% of smartphone users are using their mobiles to check and compare prices while they are in-store. This is a serious change in consumer behaviour, which means retailers must compete in their own stores for the very first time. It’s no great shock to predict this will be big next year, but we do expect to see at least one company try and prevent it happening by, for instance, jamming mobile signals or deliberately hiding barcodes on products. The only thing to remember though is what history teaches – prohibition never works.
4. Mobile coupons
We’ve cheated a little on this one, as we have some inside knowledge of our forthcoming announcements. 2012 will be a big year for mobile coupons, with at least 10 major retail chains starting to use mobile coupons. Mobile has a unique property, as a marketing channel, of being able to connect the digital world with the physical. So, running an ad on a mobile, and issuing a digital coupon which then drives the consumer into a store to make a purchase is a very powerful tool for retailers to employ.
5. Augmented reality
Some major brands have already experimented with augmented reality to enhance products or to provide consumers with more information. 2012 will see more experimentation, but it’s too early to say whether this is starting to go mainstream yet.
6. It’s the mobile web
Many retailers have successfully jumped on the mobile app bandwagon, but too many companies still haven’t covered off the first base by providing their customers with a website optimised for mobile. Take a look at your website stats and around 15-20% of the traffic will already be via mobile – which is costing real money if customers can’t use the site and go to a competitor instead. This doesn’t just apply to transactional sites, but to everyone. 2012 will see retailers flock to mobilise their websites as their marketing departments realise this is a core requirement and no longer an optional extra.
7. Don’t be afraid to explore new options
Using new technology like mobile vouchers for offers and promotions will ensure yours get noticed, and produces better returns than traditional approaches.
8. Know your customer
Knowing who is responding to your offers helps you target them and is key to maximising marketing spend. So make sure you run offers in a way that you can track who is buying. Again, new technology can help you do this at low cost.
9. Be truly multi-channel
Accept that customers want to engage with you across various media, and get market-fit in the key ones – online, mobile, in store, in person. Then make the different channels support each other, not compete.