Mobile: Retailer Loyalty Friend or Foe?

Some hail mobile as the saviour of the high street – whilst others are concerned about the impact mobile is having on bricks and mortar businesses as retail stores become showrooms for online retailers. Regardless of which corner you sit in – both points of view speak to the influence mobile is having on retail sales and that influence is only set to grow. A recent Deloitte study, titled the Dawn of Mobile Influence, affirmed the increasingly influential role mobile will play in the coming years with the report anticipating that by 2016 as much as 17-21% of all retail sales will be mobile influenced.

So is mobile a retailers’ friend or foe, and is mobile helping or hindering customer loyalty?

Mobile: A Foe of Retailer Loyalty

Online Retail CustomersOne of the biggest threats mobile poses is the heightening of consumer promiscuity. Price comparison is obviously not new – but the trusty mobile device has made it easier than ever to compare retailer pricing instantly and not just on a local scale. So easy has mobile price comparison become that a recent Telstra study has shown 49% of Australians now use their mobile phones to compare prices in-store. But it isn’t just price comparison that is the problem, traditional bricks and mortar retailers are being subjected to show-rooming – a trend where consumers browse shelves in store to touch, feel and experience the product before venturing online to buy it at a cheaper price.

Rather than bury their head in the sand, smart retailers are embracing the trend and tackling it head on. UK retail powerhouse John Lewis now offers free Wi-Fi in stores to enable consumers test their price guarantee.

Sean O’Connor John Lewis’ Head of Online Delivery and Customer Experience believes “when we supplement the price commitment with good advice, service, trustworthiness and the instant gratification of making a purchase there and then, we believe we have a winning recipe.”

But unfortunately not all retailers have shared the same sentiment to John Lewis. Take Best Buys in the US as an example – as an electronics retailer competition is fierce and comparing like for like products is easier than in verticals like fashion. Initially Best Buys considered how to stop the price comparison phenomenon in-store by adopting unique barcodes so consumers couldn’t easily scan and compare pricing. For Best Buys, price comparison and switching has become a thorn in the retailer’s side and the lack of positive action has led to significant revenue decline.
Regardless however of how retailers are reacting to the trend – price comparison and show-rooming are fuelling brand switching more than ever before – which makes mobile a bit of a retailer loyalty foe.

Dunkin Donuts Loyalty AppMobile: A Friend of Retailer Loyalty

Whilst the always-on nature of mobile is diluting brand allegiance and fuelling a breed of disloyal consumers, mobile is presenting new opportunities for brands to take personalisation to a new level. Best in class retailers are integrating mobile location data with ones social graph and other customer information, such as purchase history and browsing behaviour to build more memorable brand experiences with shoppers to drive repeat purchase and loyalty.

The powerful nature of combining mobile technology and data has resulted in a proliferation of retailers building and experimenting with mobile loyalty apps that;
• Provide personalised local based offers
• Reward consumers for repeat purchase
• Store loyalty program data and preferences to streamline the in-store experience.

Brands like Dunkin Donuts, Game UK, Costa Coffee, Monsoons and a host of others have launched loyalty based apps to better engage their customer base over the past 12 months.

Starbucks Loyalty AppTo date however Starbucks has been the stand out in the mobile loyalty space. Amongst other features, the app stores a virtual rewards card for the “myStarbucks reward program”. By doing so the app has enabled Starbucks to grow its loyalty program to over 10 million members, half of whom have opted in to receive personalised offers which keep Starbucks top of mind and increase shop frequency. The app also seeks to drive repeat purchase at shorter intervals by providing a “free pick of the week” which is a free download of music, content or even a game that can only be downloaded if the consumer ventures in-store. The Starbucks app even allows consumers to store their favourite drinks and pay for their purchase (25% of Starbucks consumers now pay via this method) – which streamlines the ordering process in-store.

By leveraging mobile as a central pillar of its customer management strategy – Starbucks has demonstrated the powerful role mobile can play in building deeper, more engaging relationships with its consumers.

Mobile: A Consumers Friend – Make it Yours

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. As mobile devices are the one item consumers can’t live without – you could say that the way to a consumer’s heart is through their mobile. With the launch of Apple’s Passbook in September 2012 and Google’s continued focus on growing Google Wallet, 2013 is set to be even bigger in the mobile space for retailers. Retailers must start to see mobile as a “friend” and core pillar to achieving CRM and loyalty success – as thinking any other way is a distraction.

References

http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/RetailDistribution/us_retail_Mobile-Influence-Factor_062712.pdf

http://www.telstra.com.au/business-enterprise/download/document/business-australian-omnichannel-whitepaper-2012.pdf

http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/starbucks-caffeinates-mobile-payments-with-over-2m-mobile-transactions-per-week

 

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2013 Digital Predictions From The Experts + Some of My Own!

Digital Marketing Trends 2013

Once again digital predictions are coming out of the woodwork. I’ve scoured the web for some of the most insightful digital trends of 2013 from the experts.

IT departments make room for the new IT employee: marketers

As organisations continue to shift spend from traditional marketing to digital channels – software is high on the marketing shopping list. According to Forbes, marketing budgets are headed on a collision course with IT. What if anything isn’t connected through the website? Online, inline and offline communications and real-time changes will drive investments that match those of IT departments shifting the technology and budget power balance. IBMs Vice President, Elana Anderson added “In 2013, CIOs and CMOs will stop looking at their differences and consider the benefits that their combined strength can bring to an organization. This alliance isn’t just logical, it’s essential. The CMO and CIO can’t afford to operate on separate stages any longer. Smarter, more empowered consumers using smart phones, tablets and cloud services pose new challenges for the C-suite. There are already good examples of leading companies as diverse as financial services and retail chains bringing IT to bear on marketing goals. It’s this combination of engagement, innovation, measurement and collaboration – all enabled by technology – that lies at the heart of better business performance in 2013.”

The question is though whilst this trend will be a key theme in markets like the US and the UK– the level of digital sophistication in the local market may mean that this trend is a little premature for Australia. As local brands adopt more and more digital,those new to the game will start to call into question structures and processes to enable progress in the space whilst those truly progressive few will start to tackle these bigger issues as it impacts a brands ability to be agile and move towards “real time marketing”.

References:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/12/20/follow-the-money-digital-marketing-trends-for-2013/
http://www.idgconnectmarketers.com/marketing-2013-top-predictions-for-us-marketers/

Real-Time MarketingCampaigns are out, real time marketing is in

According to Hubspot in 2013 we’ll see many more marketers take advantage of the power of real-time communications to grow business. As buyers instantly engage with brands on their websites, talk back via social media like Twitter and Facebook, and follow breaking news in the markets they are interested, the old model of marketing built on a company timeline doesn’t work so well.

With marketing automation and cross channel marketing platforms, marketers have the tools to move towards a “real time marketing” approach but the biggest hurdle is marketing team mindsets – particularly if the organisation is still led by a traditional marketing approach, which is still the case in many organisations down under.

Reference
http://cdn1.hubspot.com/hub/53/2013-Marketing-Trends-01.pdf
Advertising is going native

The continued decline in engagement with display advertising has led to innovation in the digital advertising space. Over recent years “native advertising” has begun to grow in popularity (eg Facebook’s sponsored stories and Twitter’s promoted tweets) as brands looks to integrate their message into the conversation or story rather than distract from it. According to Rebecca Lieb, an analyst from the Altimeter Group 2013 will be a big year for native advertising “we are seeing a number of technologies and solutions emerge to facilitate native advertising. Products and solutions in this area will continue to emerge, more publishers will accommodate, and there’s no doubt we’ll see some interesting, large-scale media partnerships emerge as a result.”

Facebook Sponsored Stories

Reference
http://www.cmo.com/articles/2012/12/18/7-digital-marketing-trends-to-watch-in-2013.frame.html

The battle of the living room

Whilst multi-screen use isn’t new – 2013 will be a year of innovation for TV networks as brands look for new opportunities to capitalise on multi-screen usage – which will of course filter down to Australia. According to Caitlan Mitchell & Chris Ferrel of the Richards Group;

Google Glasses2013 will show that hashtags are not the only way to engage in conversations around your favorite TV shows. Social TV will play an integral role in the battle for the living room as part of a concerted effort to blur the line between live and on-demand content. FX and Twentieth Century Fox seek to be leaders in this space, exemplified by their “Sons of Anarchy” app, completely redeveloped for the fourth season of the show. By taking advantage of audio fingerprinting technology, the app automatically detects audio from the episode and displays real-time content on the second-screen device. Everything from 3-D gyroscopes, virtual scene tours, real-time content, an e-commerce merchandise store and social sharing are integrated right within the app.

Reference
http://trends.clickhere.com/the-battle-for-the-living-room/

Technology is the new accessory
In 2012, Google introduced us to a whole new world with the release of Google Glasses – but in 2013 it seems a host of new products will be launched in market which will take “personal computing” to a whole new level. According to David Armano, the Managing Director of Edelman, from fuel bands to bracelets – these are just a preview of what we will see a lot more of in 2013 as we begin to look part human, part machine. There are already ski goggles that display a tiny screen allowing you to not only sync your mobile device but help you determine where you are and how fast you are going.

Reference
http://www.slideshare.net/darmano/ed-2013trends

And to finish it off, here are a few predictions of my own – related to the local market.

Digital marketers in demand for top jobs

With brands rushing to evolve in the new digital world, we will begin to see brands, particularly those that have smaller teams and flatter structures – look to hire digital marketers into senior marketing positions to lead the way in digital. When Sportsgirl set out to hire their new Strategic Brand Manager last year, digital marketing experience was at the top of their list of wants – and as one of the more progressive retailers this is a sign of things to come and in 2013 I believe we will begin to see more brands focus on strong digital experience “as a pre-requisite” for the top job.

The year of the mobile for Australian brands

The tipping point for mobile has well and truly come – but not for Australian brands. During last year’s Click Frenzy event it was revealed that only 50% of participating retailers had a mobile enabled site – which is low given those that participated are some of the more progressive retailers in the country.

With mobile internet take up and usage charging along – I believe this year, brands across a range of industry sectors will really begin to embrace mobile as an integral part of their digital strategy.

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