In the latest edition of The State of Retailing Online from Shop.org and Forrester Research, nearly half of retailers surveyed reported that they either have an optimized mobile site or smartphone app, with 16% planning to increase their investment in mobile technology. Thus if retailers are not providing mobile conveniences to their customer they are clearly in danger of losing out to competitors.
But implementation isn’t easy. Implementation of new technologies typically need to overcome quite a few obstacles, including integrating with legacy systems, aligning internal departments, purchasing additional hardware, and dedicating staff. All of these items can mark the abrupt end of a new technology initiative. In fact, according to a recent article in Tech Republic, 68% of all IT projects end in failure, many of them doomed right from the start.
In the case of mobile, retailers wishing to take the plunge can launch highly influential customer-facing solutions without having to deal with the obstacles that plague many other technologies. Here’s why:
No need to integrate with legacy systems. Ideally, all retail IT systems are fully integrated. Realistically, strained resources, system complexity, and closed-off legacy software make integration a significant challenge. With mobile, one can start with a standalone product and then integrate with success. This allows for a fledgling initiative to actually take flight and start proving its worth. There is no shortage of stand-alone features: store locators, direct communications (push messages), mobile coupons/offers, lookbooks, the list goes on. Most social media feeds are also a cinch to bring into mobile.
Issues with internal alignment are minimal. How many technology initiatives lose traction when moving amongst internal departments? Most stand alone mobile features can initially be driven directly by marketing departments thus reducing the inter-departmental collaboration needed to bring the technology to light.
No need to purchase additional hardware. Consumer-facing mobile solutions are unique in that the hardware is supplied by your customers. No need for the heavy investment in new equipment necessitated by POS solutions, in-store kiosks, and mobile clientelling devices. As well, most mobile solutions take advantage of cloud hosted services and deliver administrative capabilities via the web. Meaning no new backend infrastructure or software installations are required.
No additional staffing needed. “No additional staffing” is perhaps the most common requirement for new technology initiatives. Mobile functionality can be limited to those stand alone features that can be supported internally. Store locators rarely need modifying, social media efforts can be easily leveraged, push messages take no more time than emails, and mobile optimized images can be sized automatically by most mobile solutions.
No technology initiative can be a winner if it can’t even get out of the starting gates. Avoiding obstacles is one key to achieving success in mobile retail technology. Learn about other essentials in an upcoming ARTS Webinar, 9 Essential Keys to Mobile Retail Success held October 4.