It’s natural that some retailers will feel threatened by the growing use of mobile in store, but the answer is to embrace this trend and use it to enhance the in-store experience.
Retailers can do this by providing apps and mobile optimised sites, but also by offering wi-fi to customers.
According to an On Device Research (ODR) survey of mobile users, 60% of respondents have used the mobile internet while in stores, while 78% would use free wi-fi in stores if offered it.
The use of smartphones by consumers is growing, and many are now using them to compare prices, and search the web for product reviews.
So how can retailers adapt and use this customer behaviour to their advantage?
Mobile use in retail stores
There are now plenty of surveys which show the growth of mobile usage in retail stores:
- An iModerate survey found that more than half of smartphone owners are using the internet in stores, with price comparison, checking store locations, and hunting for discounts the most common reasons.
- Our Mobile Planet data sees 24% of UK smartphone owners taking their phones shopping with them in order to compare prices and inform themselves about products.
- A Toluna/Econsultancy survey from May last year found that 19% of 2,000 online respondents had used their mobiles to compare prices and look at product reviews while out shopping.
Why do consumers use mobile in store?
There are two main reasons:
This is usually the main purpose of using mobile in stores, which makes perfect sense. The state of the economy means that customers are more price sensitive than ever, and mobile is the perfect tool for the job.
What’s more, there are often huge savings to be made. If I’m looking at a TV in an electrical retailer, it’s quite possible I could save £100 by checking for the same product on Amazon.
Looking for reviews
This is another common reason to reach for the smartphone when in store, and this is a behaviour that high street retailers should encourage.
Checking for a review of a product is a sure sign of purchase intent. It means they like the look of a product, and are perhaps just seeking some reassurance.
The threat for retailers
The problem for retailers is that, whatever the quality of service in store and the range of products on offer, shoppers always have the option of checking prices on their mobile phones and heading online, or to another high street retailer to make the purchase.
This ‘unbundling of the shopping experience’, and the threat from online retailers is described in detail here by Ashley Friedlein.
There are a number of mobile apps and websites that enable in store shoppers to check and compare product prices, but Amazon’s mobile products represent possibly the biggest single threat to offline retailers.
Using the barcode scanner on the app, customers can easily check the products they are looking at in store on Amazon’s site.
Since Amazon is often cheaper, with a variety of delivery options, this can pose a real threat.
How can offline and multichannel retailers meet this challenge?
Don’t block internet access
I’ve seen a few stories around, which are difficult to substantiate, about retailers attempting to put obstacles in the way of customers with smartphones.
This could be counter-productive, and is certainly not the kind of tactic a forward-thinking retailer should be using.
Offer reviews at the point of sale
Retailers with reviews and ratings on their websites can easily bring this information into stores to help push products.
If a digital camera is recommended for the casual photographer, and has an average review score of five stars from 35 reviews, why not use this information?
I like the recommendations that can often be found in bookshops and wine merchants, which have been written by staff. They can help customers decide what to buy, and also have a personal touch that can appear more trustworthy.
In the same vein, retailers could combine online opinions with staff recommendations and other third party reviews.
Make sure you have a mobile site or app
If customers are going to pick up their phones and look for reviews, persuade them to use your site for this. Promote it in store.
If you can provide the reviews they need, then customers won’t have to use competitors’ sites where they might find a better deal.
Better still, provide them with a link on the store shelf where they can find reviews, or maybe a QR code or barcode to scan and view further information.
Comet provides a great example of this with its recent barcode scanning app. The purpose of the barcode scanner is not necessarily to allow price comparison while in competitors’ stores, though I’m sure Comet won’t mind if customers are doing this.
Instead, the main purpose is to make it easier for customers to see enhanced information on products on the shopfloor.
Comet promotes this in store, and the site and app have some very comprehensive product pages replete with reviews and expert buyer’s guides, allowing customers to access this information when they need to see it.
Better still, it means they don’t have to visit Amazon to find out.
It works too. Mobile now accounts for 10% of Comet’s traffic, and the retailer enjoys an advantage in this area over multichannel rival Currys/PC World.
For retailers that offer voucher codes online, allowing these codes to be redeemed in-store is one way to increase footfall, and maybe do some cross-selling when they arrive.
In conjunction with wi-fi, retailers could even target customers when they are using their mobiles in store.
NFC / mobile payments
NFC technology is yet to capture the public imagination, but it does give consumers another payment option for those times when they suddenly realise they have forgotten to get cash out and they are already at the cash register with their shopping.
Make sure they can access the information they need
This is where wi-fi comes in. It’s about making the mobile experience easier for customers. Instead of relying on variable 3G connections, providing internet access means they can browse reviews, scan QR codes, and use AR apps like Blippar to their heart’s content.
Let’s say a customer wants to see a review. If their 3G signal is poor and they can’t find what they want, will they still buy that camera?
Providing wi-fi means that they can easily access the information, while it also allows them to download your own app.
Wi-fi and efficient customer targeting
Wi-fi in store also provides a way to capture customer details and target them with offers. In fact, customers would be willing to receive some offers in return for the convenience of decent wi-fi.
Tesco recently introduced this in its larger stores. It does require a slightly clunky registration process which involves entering clubcard numbers, but the retailer is then armed with your purchase history. If Tesco can sweeten this process with a discount or two, it may well be worth the effort.
According to the ODR survey embedded below, 74% of respondents would be happy for the retailer to send a text or email with promotions.
They’re in store, when better to sell them breakfast cereal or push a promotion?
In an excellent guest post from last year, Dave Wieneke looked at how mobile can be used to enhance the in-store experience for consumers, as well as providing retailers with some precision tools to target the mobile customer.
A blend of location and personalisation can make life easier for customers, while allowing retailers to target customers with relevant offers and recommendations.
One great example of this came from the French Casino supermarket chain. Its iPhone app allows users to compile shopping lists before heading to the store, where they can use their mobile to scan and pay for items in store.
This is useful for the customer, but also provides the retailer with a wealth of information of the customer’s preferences and shopping habits.
Combine this with technology like Tesco’s in-store ‘sat nav’ app and you have the ability to target customers in real time, according to their location.
Let’s say the customer is entering the dairy aisle. They bought a particular brand of butter last week, and there’s an offer on that this week. It’s just five yards away.
Customers already have the smartphone and tablet technology in their bags and pockets that makes this possible, it’s just a question of adapting to this and making it easier by providing wi-fi.
Mobile isn’t going away, and the retailers that adapt to this trend quickly and use it to improve the customer experience will have a big advantage over their competitors.
In response to the European Commission’s Green Paper on electronic payments, published today, Mastercard is the first major payment company to officially lend support to the campaign.
The goal of the paper is to expand electronic payments to help European businesses grow, and consumers to shop easily and safely online, instore and via their mobile devices.
Mastercard Europe president Javier Perez said that the company supports public dialogue on the critical role electronic payments play in commerce and society.
MasterCard is already working hard to encourage adoption of electronic payments. Greater use can help reduce the black economy, stimulate investment and improve efficiency, resulting in improved consumer and business confidence in tough times.”
MastrCard said that it thought a shift was underway as European consumers move from cash to more efficient forms of electronic payments. Payments online and via smartphones are also growing dramatically as consumers change the way they shop and pay.
The company’s own PayPass technology is being used across Europe more and more, while Visa, PayPal and Google are racing to make the biggest mark on the mobile payments space. No wonder, since technology analysis firm Yankee Group predicts the value of NFC transactions will grow from $27m in 2010 to $40bn in 2014.
Visa announced this week that its NFC payment system has now been certified for use in LG, Samsung and RIM smartphones, and back in November it confirmed that its digital wallet service will be called V.me.
Expected to be rolled out fully in early 2012, Visa is running a developer programme that brings together all of its current subsidiaries including Authorize.Net, CyberSource, Fundamo and PlaySpan. Its aim is to give retailers, merchants and start-ups better access to Visa’s payments services, since the tools provide mobile developers with easier ways to accept payments on handsets.
With PayPal’s own digital wallet service is expected to launch this year – as well as Google Wallet on the market – it’ll be interesting to see how products from the big three compare over the coming year.
On top of huge potential for growth, green and commerce benefits, Mastercard also highlighted that many of the cards already in use by European consumers help them set limits on how they spend, help them decide where they want to spend, and help them use whatever online or offline technologies they want to use to pay.
These opportunities for consumers to be in control of the way they pay were nearly unheard of when the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) initiative within the EU began. Europe was a pioneer in creating safe and convenient new ways to pay such as EMV chip cards.
Perez explained that these and many other innovations come from intense competition, and can only be supported with a sustainable business model.
The payments sector needs to have a sustainable business model to fund innovations that will keep Europe ahead of the rest of the world. We expect that the consultation process started today will reveal just how much the way to pay in daily life has changed for everyone.”
Well this Mark Cuban has seen it, done it and got the t-shirt..
12 Rulles for Start-Ups
Anyone who has started a business has his or her own rules and guidelines, so I thought I would add to the memo with my own. My “rules” below aren’t just for those founding the companies, but for those who are considering going to work for them, as well.
1. Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.
2. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.
3. Hire people who you think will love working there.
4. Sales Cure All. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales.
5. Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them. Pay up for people in your core competencies. Get the best. Outside the core competencies, hire people that fit your culture but aren’t as expensive to pay.
6. An espresso machine? Are you kidding me? Coffee is for closers. Sodas are free. Lunch is a chance to get out of the office and talk. There are 24 hours in a day, and if people like their jobs, they will find ways to use as much of it as possible to do their jobs.
7. No offices. Open offices keep everyone in tune with what is going on and keep the energy up. If an employee is about privacy, show him or her how to use the lock on the bathroom. There is nothing private in a startup. This is also a good way to keep from hiring executives who cannot operate successfully in a startup. My biggest fear was always hiring someone who wanted to build an empire. If the person demands to fly first class or to bring over a personal secretary, run away. If an exec won’t go on sales calls, run away. They are empire builders and will pollute your company.
8. As far as technology, go with what you know. That is always the most inexpensive way. If you know Apple, use it. If you know Vista, ask yourself why, then use it. It’s a startup so there are just a few employees. Let people use what they know.
Never Listen to Your Customers
A great quote from technology luminary Alan Kay that every entrepreneur needs to remember: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
I’m working with a company that at one point had a product that was not only best in its class, but also technically far ahead of its competition. It created a better way of offering its service, and customers loved it and paid for it.
Then it made a fatal mistake. It asked its customers what features they wanted to see in the product, and they delivered on those features. Unfortunately for this company, its competitors didn’t ask customers what they wanted. Instead, they had a vision of ways that business could be done differently and, as a result, better. Customers didn’t really see the value or need until they saw the new product. When they tried it, they loved it.
So what did “my” company do when it saw what its competitor had done? It repeated its mistake and once again asked its customers what they wanted in the product. Of course the customer responded with the features that they now loved from the other product.
The company didn’t improve its competitive positioning. It put itself in a revolving door of trying to respond to customer requests. To make matters worse, resources and brainpower that could be applied to “inventing the future” were instead being used to catch up with features that locked the company into the past.
Entrepreneurs need to be reminded that it’s not the job of their customers to know what they don’t. In other words, your customers have a tough enough time doing their jobs. They don’t spend time trying to reinvent their industries or how their jobs are performed. Sure, every now and then you come across an exception. But you can’t bet the company on your finding that person among your customers.
Instead, part of every entrepreneur’s job is to invent the future. I also call it “kicking your own ass.” Someone is out there looking to put you out of business. Someone is out there who thinks they have a better idea than you have. A better solution than you have. A better or more efficient product than you have. If there is someone out there who can “kick your ass” by doing it better, it’s part of your job as the owner of the company to stay ahead of them and “kick your own ass” before someone else does.
Your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happy. Listen to them. Make them happy. But don’t rely on them to create the future road map for your product or service. That’s your job.
Affiliate marketing is growing and changing faster than ever before. Technology is getting more affordable and efficient, advertising dollars are expanding quickly to new devices, and big brands are launching their own major publisher relationships. Affiliate networks are improving their services and giving more transparency to advertisers, and competition is rapidly growing. Below are some predictions for affiliate marketing in 2012.
1. Brands Pulling More In-House Talent
Companies are beginning to hire in-house affiliate experts to shape and manage distribution of their campaigns. This is already a trend for online acquisition channels like SEO, PPC, and Display, but I predict you will see experienced affiliate marketers and managers in every major marketing team in the country by the end of this year. Does this mean advertisers will stop working directly with networks? Certainly not. Yes it is important for brands to build long lasting partnerships with main stream publishers, but they also need legitimate affiliate networks to fill the funnel with traffic they can’t find on their own. However, they will need someone to manage all of those affiliate network relationships and most likely do their own tracking, reporting and analysis of performance.
2. Mobile Advertising Gets Smart
So many people have already said that 2011 was the year of mobile, and I will certainly agree that last year we certainly saw a substantial rise in mobile advertising spend. In 2012 we will see competition increase and advertisers get smarter with their budgets. We will see more accountability for Ad Networks and new forms of user engagement. Connecting in-app to mobile web, in-app to in-app, and device to device will be the rage of the new year. Large game developers and major mobile publishers will lead the way. I predict this will lead an affiliate marketer gold rush. So many affiliates have been building their mobile traffic for over a decade, and in 2012 there will be more ways to effectively monetize mobile traffic, driving the cost per user through the roof. If you haven’t checked it out previously, Mobile App Tracking is our leap into supporting mobile advertising.
3. Need for Attribution Grows
As a result of more internal affiliate marketing talent, proving the value of affiliate traffic will become increasingly important for marketers everywhere. If affiliate marketing can really do what it says it can do, then why wouldn’t advertisers pay all day long for new customers. The crux falls on attributing credit to the proper marketing channels and to the most influential affiliates. If you work with major brands already, you know that proving your value can be a full time job. Tracking and reporting technologies must continue to improve or be left behind.
4. Do Not Track Grows Quieter
But how will we attribute credit for conversions to the right marketing channels if our ability to track users deteriorates? In 2011, the proposals by the FTC to enact various Do-Not-Track legislation got online advertisers a little worried. The greatest thing about affiliate marketing specifically is that we can track users and show that purchase decisions were influenced by affiliates. How will we progress in attribution technologies if browsers practices and legislation prevent us from tracking. My prediction is that Do-Not-Track will be a muted subject in 2012. We still have so much to learn about monetizing the web, and I believe the FTC intended to spook online advertisers into self regulating and checking their intentions.
5. Privacy Gets Ugly
Maybe 2012 is slightly premature, but I think the conversation on privacy and protecting personally identifiable information will grow exponentially. The mobile web is a completely wild place of little regulation but incredible security risk. In 2012 you will see at least one Internet giant under full scale attack by a government agency on the issue of user privacy. I believe SaaS companies will start reevaluating their business models and major brands will start looking for technologies to build a future with compliance and security.
6. Affiliate Fraud Gets Worse… and Better
I have no doubt that affiliate fraud will grow on a global scale in 2012 as more humans have access to the Internet (as will all general Internet fraud). However, I also believe that we will build more transparency into the affiliate marketing industry than ever before based on the demands of advertisers. As advertisers increase their in-house talent and develop more direct publisher relationships, they will absolutely require direct information about any traffic directed toward their campaigns. Some of this transparency may be provided by technology, but on a more basic level affiliate networks, media buyers, and affiliates will open the kimono a little more in order to get the attention and payouts of the best campaigns and offers, raising the bar on acceptable traffic for advertisers.
7. Affiliate Nexus Tax Rages On
I do not believe we will have any conclusions on Nexus Tax rulings in 2012 at a federal level. There are an unbelievable number of interested parties, and I simply do not believe Congress is capable of passing any effective or enforceable legislation, especially during an election year. The greatest hurdles in nexus tax are the generation gap of law makers and their lack of understanding in the online economy. However, this does not mean we should stay uninformed. Follow along with the PMA as they provide accurate information about the nexus battle, and I challenge you to make it your New Year’s resolution to support the PMA.
I love this, cos I am soooo guilty of not doing exactly what is being suggested.
Brits Waste £134m A Year By Not Unplugging Chargers
The average UK household could save £60 a year by unplugging laptops and phones.
UK households waste £134 million a year by leaving gadgets plugged despite the device being fully charged, according to a study by EON.
Nine out of ten people keep gadgets on permanent charge, despite the potential damage to the battery life, the environmental impact and the possibility of saving on average £60 a year on their energy bill.
Wise old heads
The most overcharged devices are laptops, which constitute 43 percent of the total, with mobile phones accounting for 41 percent and iPods ten percent. Other culprits include electric toothbrushes, handheld vacuum cleaners and cordless phones.
One in ten admitted that they were simply too lazy to unplug the gadgets despite the benefits, with people aged 18 and 24 four times more likely to leave them plugged in than those aged 55 or older. It also seems that no demographic is exempt, with one in five children leaving toys on charge.
“It’s crucial that we keep an eye on how much money and energy we’re wasting keeping them charging when we don’t need to,” commented EON’s Emma Thompson. “When you plug in a charger, think about how long it needs to reach full charge, rather than just leaving it on overnight.”
“Generally mobile phones only take two hours to charge but most people leave them plugged in overnight. By unplugging your gadgets once they’re charged, you’ll be helping to reduce your energy bills,” she added.
The problem is likely to grow as the market for gadgets grows, with increased sales of electronics resulting in warnings that the UK may miss emissions targets by 2020. In November it was revealed that almost half of people in the UK are smartphone owners, with demand for power likely to increase as more are sold over the Christmas period.
The energy wasted by idle electronics is not confined to the home as 80 percent of the UK’s desktop computers have no power management solution, which could save £25 in electricity on every PC each year. It was estimated that the cost of businesses leaving electrical equipment on standby during one Christmas period was £110m.
However these potential savings are not enough to convince businesses of the worth of power management as they fear that it could disrupt their IT operations. This has meant employees are taking the lead, with most of them turning off their computers because they are concerned about costs and the environment, not because of company policy.