IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 14 Nov 2011

Mobile – the only omnipresent channel

Whilst the idea of omnipresence may conjure up religious images for some, what I’m actually referring to when using this term in relation to mobile commerce is the property of being present everywhere. This is true for mobile phones, as most users carry them around wherever they go. In fact, according to a Pew study last year two thirds of adults sleep with their mobile phone next to their bed. Among millennials (young people aged 18 to 29) this figure rises to 90%. The Pew research states that adults who use text messaging facilities on their phone receive an average of 10 texts per day, rising to 50 per day for most teenagers.

There is therefore great potential for retailers to connect with their customers through their mobile devices. However ‘with great power comes great responsibility’; it’s important for retailers not to annoy consumers with irrelevant marketing to their mobile phones or attempt to interact with them at inconvenient times of the day. Used correctly, the immediacy of the mobile channel can bring benefits to retailers and consumers alike; giving customers access to the goods they want when they want, and giving retailers sales that they would not have had access to previously.

Say for example a consumer is attending a black tie event away from home and realises whilst travelling there that they’ve forgotten a smart pair of shoes. The consumer could order new ones using their mobile device and have them sourced from a local store using services such as Shutl. Utilising options such as 90 minute delivery from Aurora Fashions, the shoes could then be delivered to the customer’s hotel in time for their arrival.

There has been much debate about whether mobile commerce generates incremental sales for retailers or simply cannibalises existing sales. For customers who are glued to their mobile devices, providing facilities such as free Wi-Fi in shops can encourage online shopping in store. This may sound strange – after all, why would a consumer want to order something online if it was right in front of them? One example may be if a given item of clothing was not available in their size within that branch. The customer could order it online without leaving the retail premises meaning that the chance of them going home and forgetting to make the purchase would be eliminated.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that the mobile is not just a device that will serve the ability to shop on the go – an area of serious opportunity to both the consumer and the retailer is to learn more about the product. Whether that be scanning the barcode in store to get rich media content about the product sent to the phone, or conducting an internet search for a particular item on the phone whilst on the high street to find out which shop is holding stock.

What are your thoughts on mobile commerce? Are you using it to your advantage or do you plan to do so in the future? Post your comments below or email

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