There has been a ton of buzz in retail about how mobile technology is changing the customer experience. We saw plenty of evidence of this during the holiday season as retailers used every channel at their disposal to attract customers. While the future of mobile retail is still being debated, there is no doubt that retailers are just scratching the surface when it comes integrating mobile solutions into their operations. I had a chance to talk with Renee Shaffer, the CIO of Sonic Drive Ins to talk about her work with the Association for Retail Technology Standards and how they are helping retailers enhance mobile strategy.
Why should retailers care about mobile phones?
According to Deloitte, one in five shoppers said they intended to use their mobile phone to shop this holiday season. Of those, 45% will compare prices, 32% will look for coupons and reviews, and 25% will make purchases. There are about 4 times the number of mobile phones than bank accounts in the world and in most western countries (including the US) there are about 3 times the number of mobile phones than Internet connections. Both of these metrics prove that mobile phones are very accessible, useful, and ubiquitous. Retailers need to think of mobile phones as yet another channel with an even wider potential market than e-commerce. Many believe convenient mobile applications are the next BIG competitive advantage.
What are the mobile applications for retail?
Typically retail mobile applications are classified into three categories. Customer Loyalty and Marketing applications focus on communicating with consumers in various ways including providing product information and promotions. Mobile Commerce and Payment applications allow consumers to purchase goods using their mobile phones as the payment vehicle, an extension of the very successful use of contactless cards in transportation and fast food. And lastly, Enhanced Operations applications help increase efficiency by giving employees mobile access to information such as tasks, work schedules, flash reporting, and product locations.
What is the Mobile Blueprint for Retail?
ARTS, the standards organization of the NRF, has embarked on developing a blueprint to help educate retailers about using mobile phones and contactless cards to enable planning and successful implementations. The blueprint will contain examples of the types of mobile applications, the technologies involved, and of course the industry standards that apply. Click here for more information. When the mobile blueprint is released in June, a goal is to obtain feedback from retailers so ARTS and NRF can work with banks, standards groups and application developers to ensure standards and business processes surrounding mobile conform to retailer desires. You can help NRF and ARTS in developing this mobile blueprint by commenting on these questions:
1. What mobile applications would you like to offer but cannot due to lack of availability of technology or standards? What else do you consider as barriers to entry?
2. Have you used mobile- based promotions or advertising? What kind of response have you seen from your customers?
3. Beyond the Blueprint, how can ARTS help you to effectively implement retail mobile solutions?
Who is involved?
Over 25 retailers, vendors, and other standards organizations are on the committee which I help lead along with David Dorf of Oracle, and Jonatan Evald Buus of CellPoint Mobile. This committee is unique because it extends outside of retail with participation from the GSMA, Smart Card Alliance, the NFC Forum, and MIT Auto-ID Labs to name a few. Retailers that are members of ARTS and are interested in joining the committee should contact Richard Mader. We know of no other cross-industry initiative like this one.
Will ARTS have a presence at NRF’s BIG Show this year?
Of course! ARTS will be in booth #2037. Retailers should stop by to learn about our other efforts like cloud computing education, the SOA Blueprint for Retail, and RFP templates. Meet the chairs of the mobile blueprint in the ARTS booth on Monday at 11:30 ET or learn more at a session, “Mobile Retailing – Strategies for the Emerging Mobile Economy,” on Wednesday at 9:45am in HALL E, 1E 14/15/16.