Not since the internet boom of the mid-to late-90s has a technological trend been as pervasive, global or created as much excitement as the rapid growth in mobile technology. In 2011, global shipments of handheld mobile devices grew to over 1.5 billion units, an 11 percent increase from 2010. 1 Of those, over 491 million were smartphones, a 61 percent increase over the prio year. 1 In today’s unpredictable global economy, where consumer confidence ebbs and flows, retailers are increasingly drawn to mobility as a way to differentiate the shopping experience. Downloadable mobile applications are perhaps the most obvious attempt by retailers to leverage mobile technology. Other examples include self-scanning devices, QR codes, virtual shelves and mobile websites. Both emerging and well-established technology providers lure merchants into quick decisions; vendor use flashy demos and promises of brand enhancement, cost reductions and droves of new customers flocking to the store to entice retailers to pursue mobile projects. However, many of these projects have unintended outcomes like offering an additional discount to customers who are already in a checkout queue with a basket full of goods.
Mobile technology can, at times, create as much anxiety as it does excitement. But retailers can be successful in leveraging this powerful tool across their business. Retailers must first understand the foundational nature of mobility and then create and execute a strategy that enhances their value proposition to consumers while generating a strong ROI.
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