Mobile commerce will become key, says Carrefour’s online boss

NG Retail: debate on m-commerce

NG Retail: debate on m-commerce

Mobile commerce (m-commerce) is set to revolutionise the retail environment in the next few years, according to Carrefour’s vice president of online and multi-channel, Jean-Christophe Hermann.

Hermann will be among top retail executives discussing the potential for m-commerce at the Next Generation Retail Europe Summit 2011 in Geneva next month (April).

It’s a trend that crosses sector boundaries, from clothing, books and music to electrical goods and groceries and, according to Hermann, “a page in retailing has well and truly turned”.

“Today, e-commerce consists of so many players, often using discount models, where profitability is difficult,” he says. “Our strategy has always been to use the internet to bring customers into our stores. But studies show consumers want the product immediately and without charges and we realised our economic model is much smaller if the buying experience ends at the store.”

Enter online sales and, latterly, m-commerce, which requires a revamped mobile web site and mobile applications for the iPhone.

“The true potential for m-commerce is to provide consumers with a valuable tool for research, comparison shopping and retailer interaction. This will, I believe, not only meet the needs of customers but also maximise growth across all channels,” says Hermann.

Online retailing is one sector bucking recessionary trends.

Figures show m-commerce is the fastest growing market segment in Europe. Worth €4.7bn in 2003, it grew around 20% last year to €171.9bn – or 5.5% of all retail spending. In contrast, the US growth stalled in 2008 and increased only 10% last year.

According to Forrester Research vice president Patti Freeman Evans, while the major sectors in Western Europe continue to emerge from the shadow of the financial crisis, e-commerce continues to gain awareness and, more importantly, traction among consumers. “We expect that e-business and channel strategy professionals will promote online self-service to decrease costs, improve the multi-channel customer experience and keep their customers engaged.”

The Next Generation Retail Summit 2011takes place at the Hotel President Wilson, Geneva, 5-7 April 2011. Featuring the top industry voices, and hosted by GDS International, the Summit will also turn the spotlight onto how to build a customer centric multi-channel business, retail demand intelligence, strategies for supply chain excellence and growth strategies.

Some of the key figures sharing their extensive skills and experience include Gil Guibert, CIO of Auchan; Oliver Kaye, head of retail operations Europe at Tesco; and Silvester Macho, CIO of METRO Group.

Next Generation Retail Europe Summit 2011 is an exclusive event reserved for 100 participants and includes expert workshops, facilitated roundtables, peer-to-peer networks and co-ordinated meetings.