Key Retail Influencers Talk Mobile

[Originally published on APADMI Apr 20, 2016 – Advice & Guides, Blog as:]

Integration of Mobile into Retailers Business Model Roundtable

Apadmi have recently produced a whitepaper exploring the integration of mobile into a retailer’s business model and the benefits it can bring. Nick Black, CEO of Apadmi, was quoted recently in Forbes as saying: “..our research has revealed that not all retailers are using each channel to full effect and mobile apps are not up to scratch or consistent with the experience shoppers may have on the retailer’s website or in-store. A staggering 71% of consumers stated there is room in the market for better mobile apps so it’s now up to retailers to invest in mobile to improve the shopping experience. And if done well, retailers should also see an increase in sales and loyalty to keep them ahead of the competition.”

As part of their research Apadmi asked some key retail influencers for their opinion on how retailers can get the most from mobile. See their thoughts below.

We would like to thank all those who participated.

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Adam Gore

Adam Gore on LinkedIn

Adam Gore, MD at Find Me A Gift

Online retailer Find Me A Gift specialises in a wide range of gadgets, experiences, toys, novelty and personalised gifts with worldwide delivery, special offers and year round sales.

The importance of integrating mobile into a retailer’s business model

With mobile internet usage continuously rising, a strong mobile presence is crucial for any retail or ecommerce company. As the market grows, more and more of the population put their trust in their smartphones and rely on new payment methods such as Apple Pay. In recent years, other technologies, click and collect for example, have become increasingly popular as a convenience tool.

In order to successfully integrate mobile applications into business models and increase conversion rates,retailers need to focus on maximising usability. In particular, a sleek, high-speed design is crucial when developing websites to fit mobile devices; in order to ensure the user has the best possible experience. Major retail and ecommerce brands such as Tesco, EBay and Amazon are all prime examples of app optimisation and provide stellar user experience. It is also wise for retailers to consider future opportunities on how they can improve their content on mobile devices. For example, encouraging reviews and promptly responding to feedback can aid a positive user experience, whilst also increasing trust between company and customer. Additionally it is useful to track mobile user engagement to gain insights using traffic analysis tools, like Google Analytics.

However, all too often ecommerce companies fall foul of some fairly commonplace issues, leading consumers to uninstall their app. These include, but are not limited to: glitches, slow loading times, the overuse of notifications, loss of trust, and using up excessive battery. In addition to this, apps can rely too heavily on the user having a fast internet connection. As speed is one of the biggest keys to success for mobile devices, apps should be able to function offline or with poor internet connection. As a general rule, websites and apps need to be sleek, streamlined and optimised to keep customers patient and willing to continue using them.

Lately, Google have begun indexing apps, meaning that they show up in mobile search engine results. This means that companies can apply the same levels of search engine optimisation they’d use for their desktop website to its mobile counterpart, in order to improve online visibility.

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Clare Rayner, Founder at The Retail Champion

Media Contributor, Speaker, Writer. Retail Expert, High Street Campaigner

How can digital be implemented in traditional industries/retailers to improve consumer journeys/experiences?

Digital is such a broad topic. Digital solutions can improve the customer experience in so many ways. Often it is assumed that it has to be a consumer-facing solution, but that is not the case.

Recently I’ve been working with Mobaro Retail (www.mobaro.com/retail) – I encountered them when I met their chairman at a conference. They’ve created simple, effective digital solutions that better connect store operations with HQ. Transforming paper-based operational task lists into intelligent app-based checklists, turning disparate communications mechanisms into transparent 2-way interactions, Mobaro enables retailers to really step up and meet the demands of their consumers for a consistent brand experience across all stores.

Digital checklists can ensure that stores have a standard set of criteria to be “ready for customers”. They walk store staff through new VM instructions, ensuring that they can set up window features, POS, and campaigns, in line with the plan and to a consistent standard. The checklists allow stores to feedback to HQ, real-time, so that there’s never any question over what level of day-1 promotional compliance was achieved, and, they allow stores to raise issues / concerns / barriers to being able to complete key tasks such that those can be addressed, and prevented from reoccurring in the future.

Using simple, effective digital solutions to connect geographically diverse teams, ensuring consistency, communication and collaboration between the frontline staff and HQ departments, gives all those contributing to the delivery of the customer experience the tools, knowledge, support and guidance they need to get it right first time. Invaluable if you think about the amount of time, energy and money that is spent on designing and implementing each and every new planogram, promotion or marketing activity.

So, I’ve had my eyes opened to just one of the many ways digital plays a role in a traditional bricks-and-mortar retail experience, and, I’m sure there are 1000s more!

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Emma Shaw

Emma Shaw on LinkedIn

Emma Shaw, Head of Design at Fat Face

What mistakes do you see retailers doing that gets their app uninstalled?

The typical mistake I see is when an app has been developed without a clear proposition. “We should have an app….” But often they haven’t figured out what value it will give to a customer so take up / use is low.

How can offline retailers use technology/mobile to improve sales or engagement with their customers? How can the app experience be improved for customers currently in the brick and mortar stores?

Mobile is always on so within a retail environment you build more personal experiences that add value for customers and reward loyal customers. Technology is simplifying how we shop and improving customer service. Technology is also providing deeper insights back into the business on customer buying behaviours.

What are the big opportunities for retailers in the apps market moving forward?

For me each retailer needs to find its own way of adding value back to the customer. Mr Porter has built a content hub that goes beyond a commerce solution, it is a go to destination for style / lifestyle advice. The Nike running app or training app is commercial and adds value by helping you achieve your fitness goals – for free! And finally the Starbucks app rewards loyalty and makes ordering a coffee convenient. All add value to the customer but are all commercially savvy without just being a mobile shop / website.

What mobile technologies do you think will most transform the offline retail experience? What opportunities will they create?

Beacons In store could be interesting and transform how we merchandise products / encourage purchase conversion.

Mobile payments are gaining traction and will continue to do so.

Service enhancements, e.g if customer has placed a click collect order and has come into store to collect, if they had an app you could recognise they are in the store and pro actively prepare their order whilst personalising their experience with you.

How can retailers use mobile data to create richer or more targeted shopping experiences?

In many ways, beacons and mobiles will allow you to understand dwell time in a shop and optimal floorplans. mobile data will help you create more personal relationships with your customers increasing the chance of repeat custom.

What do you feel will be the biggest changes in 2016 to retailers due to mobile tech?

Customers can and will shop 24/7, wherever they happen to be. Customers are becoming expectant of a level of service that works on a mobile device increasingly expect their shopping experience to be enhanced. The big department stores / grocery stores are driving this shift in expectation but brands such as Nike are really leveraging it.

What are the benefits of an integrated mobile strategy for retailers in 2016?

Mobile is now mainstream, it is no longer a nice to have. From an e-commerce perspective mobile is now the number one device of choice for our customers when receiving communications, browsing the website and now shopping the website. Having a strategy to satisfy this customer demand is a must for retail. Seeking out ways to add more value through mobile for customers is next. How will a retailer get cut through and engage with the customers to earn it’s position on a mobile device and not be deleted?!!

Are digital/ mobile technologies a threat to traditional business models or a benefit?

Benefit. What is a traditional business model? You have to follow your customers and this is how they want to be entertained / shop.

What are some unexpected benefits of the rise of mobile/digital technologies on ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses?

Store crew are better informed, if they don’t have an answer for a customer they can easily find it out. That said, customers are far better informed as a result of tech / web so come into stores with a much higher level of expectation.

How can digital be implemented in traditional industries/retailers to improve consumer journeys/experiences?

Too many to list… But industries / retailers need to keep focused on adding value. BA pioneered with the mobile boarding card to reduce time in departures, Ocado made grocery shopping easy, lloyds made banking on the go seem less. All of the above are adding value or solving a problem. It goes wrong when you don’t understand or talk to your customers.

What changes do you expect to see in retail with the rise of digital/mobile tech?

More personalised service.
Enhanced service
Repeat engagement with customer
Increased spend

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Jemima Bird

Jemima Bird on LinkedIn

Jemima Bird, Interim Customer Director at The Co-Op

What mistakes do you see retailers doing that gets their app uninstalled? 

Retailers and service providers generally, have to remember that they have been invited onto a consumers phone, one of the most personal devices that people carry around with them (almost religiously!) and so it’s important not to abuse that invite. Too many push notifications and over frequent offers is rather like the annoying neighbour who you invited round for a get to know you glass of wine one Friday night, but now takes it upon himself to turn up every Friday night with a bottle…there’s nothing massively unpleasant about it, and you know he means well, but really you just wanted a night in on the sofa watching a box set thanks.

In addition, Apps that promise one thing, but just don’t deliver are sure fire deletes. Don’t sell me a tube map app, that then doesn’t have uptodate travel information on. Or stop making it so sophisticated that it can’t keep up with itself – fully integrated live travel information is marvelous, but not when you are on the Central line at Lancaster Gate, and the driver announces the Northern line is suspended, and you can’t reroute your Tottenham Court Road journey, because your App needs a wifi signal because its live timetable integrated and your well, your underground… I could go on!

Name 3 retails apps that you think are doing it well and why? 

The Trainline App is a great product – I worked with the team developing their customer strategy and they put smooth, friction free, smarter journeys at the heart of their decision making. They don’t see themselves as a travel app, they see themselves as a lifestyle app, your smart in your pocket friend who yes can get you a cheaper ticket, but can also help you get from home to destination with live travel information and suggested options at the other end. The functionality which tells you what platform your train is going to leave from before the departure board through to the where you are on your actual journey and the estimated time of arrival is simple but effective – the app focus on the detail of creating smarter journeys. I also love the fact their I house App team is called Bonsai – beautiful things come from small things.

Not a retail App, but I also have a real soft spot for Sleep Cycle – an app that monitors how you’re sleeping and has a built in alarm clock that wakes you within a pre thirty minute window of your alarm time, waking you up at your lightest point of sleep.  I’m not sure if it works or not, but the analysis graphs and the belief that I’ve had a good nights sleep when it tells me have is well worth it!

What do you feel will be the next ‘click and collect?’ 

Smile and Go….in the agile world we live in, smart tech is a must have for savvy retailers. Consumers are going to reply more and more on their mobiles as their wallet. The ability to pre order and pre pay is I feel going to grow in demand. Why can’t I preorder my skinny flat white from my favorite retailer with a pick up time that I can simply pick up with a smile, as he’s got my details, I’ve got his details and frankly he’s got my favorite coffee and I’d rather like it now, not in five minutes when I’ve queued for it. Every day items are going to be the new frontier for click and collect.

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Jodi Birkett

Jodi Birkett on LinkedIn

Jodi Birkett, Partner at Deloitte LLP

Specialist in financial due diligence for buy-side, sell-side and refinancing engagements.
Focus on companies within the Consumer Business and TMT sectors.

How important is it for retailers to include digital within their strategy?

Fundamental. 76% of UK consumers had a mobile phone at May 2015, 6% up on prior year, 80% of UK consumers have a laptop and tablet penetration has increased to 60%. Collectively UK consumers look at their smartphones over a billion times a day. Within 15 minutes of waking up, 55% of smartphone owners have checked their phones. This proportion is significantly higher in the younger generation so the trend is only moving in one direction. Our digital influence research also shows that 28% of instore purchases are influenced by digital technology at some point during the shopping journey. This equates to about £100bn of sales in 2015

Name 3 retails apps that you think are doing it well and why?

Ocado – evoles regularly and easy to use, minimal clicks due facilitated by regular purchasing activity

Amazon Prime Now – easy to use

Argos – a small number of clicks to find what you want, real time stock availability and multiple fulfilment options.

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Mike Wittenstein, Founder/Partner at Storyminers

International conference speaker and corporate consultant on customer experience, retail, and innovation.

Are digital/ mobile technologies a threat to traditional business models or a benefit?

It’s not a black-or-white question. Digital/mobile technologies should, in my opinion, be seen as a COMPLEMENT to traditional business models. This small shift in perspective can mean a world of positive difference.

For example, The Home Depot’s multi-featured mobile app lets consumers carefully place a screw or bolt on top of their mobile device screen to find out how long it is, that kind it is, and what the thread count it. Identifying the right product is such a simple feature, but it does so much:

  • customers get one-trip resolution to their needs
  • customers know before they leave their homes if what they need is in stock
  • Home Depot enjoys more in-store visits (and some add-on purchases)
  • Home Depot enjoys more interactions and more sales from these new omnichannel customers

Sure, this example could be all digital, but sometimes people need help right away. The combination of digital tech with a brick-and-mortar infrastructure brings the best of both worlds together in a way that’s most convenient and valuable for customers.

Rather than pick digital over traditional or traditional over digital, pick what’s right FOR your customers. Thinking on their behalf to create the greatest value for them, will lead to the best combination of new tech and old infrastructure. And the best bottom-line performance for your business as well.

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Nick Lansley, Director and Innovation Insider at Lansley Consultancy Ltd

Nick Lansley is the former Head of Innovation at Tesco and is credited with Tesco’s entrance into digital with Tesco.com. Nick currently works as an Innovation consultant, working with businesses to help transform their processes.

What do you feel will be the biggest changes in 2016 to retailers due to mobile tech?

Looking at the future of retail? I think big change is going to be to in allowing the retailer’s app to gain awareness that it is inside that retailer’s store and offer an augmented experience to the customer.

To ‘gain awareness’ a trigger could be an iBeacon close to the entrance to the store triggering a notification from the app to ‘use me’. Further beacons could allow the app to detect location within a department or product category. Customers could use the app to gain greater insight of the product range, including extended data for a product, product comparison capabilities, and visibility of a wider online-only range if the desired product is not in-store.

Effective use of technology can also transform the way in which in-store staff are able to help potential customers. I would also like to see shop staff using tablet devices which notify them that a customer has an app and would like help.

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Paul Turner-Mitchell, Director at 25 Ten Boutique

Retail Commentator, Business Rates Expert and High Street retail commentator writes columns for Drapers and Retail Week and contributed to Mary Portas’ high street review.

Do you feel retailers are currently taking full advantage of the consumer experience opportunities offered by digital/mobile technologies?

Retail is drastically evolving, however it is not fully taking advantage of opportunities offered by digital technologies. Today, success means connecting with your most important customer: the omni-channel shopper. The omni-channel shopper researches his or her next purchase on the go, whether that equates to online shopping, click to collect, or going to the local high street depends on which provides the most convenience.  Retail establishments need to work together to create platforms that cater to the needs of the omni-channel shopper. The See Inside Group, for example, has built a solution to deal with rise of the omni-channel shopper is the creation of virtual local digital communities which can leverage existing technologies that can lead to greater footfall, transparency and consumer interest. Essentially, a proposal to bridge the gap between the brick and mortar stores and the ecommerce world.

The ideal retail store exists both in the real and the virtual world. Through your mobile, you should able to walk through the store and be able to look at what is available on stock. You should be able to check if your click to collect order is available for pick up. A mobile phone should serve as a portal into your local high street. The sooner business join forces to create such a platform, the sooner they will be able to counter the threat of major online powerhouses such as Amazon.

The post Key Retail Influencers Talk Mobile appeared first on Storyminers.

About the Author

During 25 years in 25 countries with 400+ companies, Mike and his clients have co-created over $1.5 billion in measurable impact with his guidance on their experience and business designs . Under the Storyminers brand, he helps retailers design and deploy Store-of-the-Future initiatives that create new business opportunities and rekindle investor interest. Mike is a top 25 customer experience influencer (as ranked by SAP and MindTouch), a global speaker, and founding member of Global CX Panel and the CXPA.