It’s astonishing to think that the first iPhone only appeared on the production line seven years ago. Since then, smartphone ownership has hit a critical mass around the world. 1.75bn people now have access to one, according to eMarketer.
With so much choice on the digital high street, it's easy to switch from one retailer to another - many are now prioritising mobile over more traditional forms of communication
Never before has there been a platform that can reach billions of users at all times, and it’s a figure that will continue growing.
Clearly, mobile retail has reached a tipping point. Customers use their phones in stores for pretty much everything; from managing shopping lists, browsing for recipes, price comparisons and additional product information, as well as shopping on the go whenever they need to.
With that in mind, smartphone shoppers present an enormous opportunity for marketers. A recent IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) and Capgemini study shows that UK mobile retail sales increased 138% in 2013 and a third of all online retail sales came from mobile devices in Q4 last year.
Expectations around user experience are higher than ever and with so much choice on the digital high street, it is very easy to switch from one retailer to another. Many retailers are now prioritising mobile development over more traditional forms of communication, from mobile optimised websites to developing new apps.
Customer first, technology second
When it comes to mobile marketing, retailers should consider their customer first, and then the technology. I recommend that businesses start with the basics to help build trust with their customer base.
First, you should review your web analytics to understand how your customers are using their mobiles while interacting with your brand.
The challenge for all retailers is to ensure we deliver value to customers at every stage of their journey - however, whenever and wherever they choose to shop
Second, explore how you can use mobile to improve your communications and updates to customers.
Third, incentivise your customers to opt-in and then use SMS or in-app notifications to provide a better service.
Lastly, ensure that your emails are mobile optimised. From there, you can explore how customers use their mobiles in your stores and develop useful services for customers to engage with using QR codes and NFC. An App and mobile-optimised site will significantly improve the user experience and enhance your marketing efforts.
So what next? I’ve mentioned that one in three online retail sales already come from a mobile device. Over the coming months that number will continue to rise exponentially, as smartphone and tablet adoption grows among consumers.
The challenge for all retailers is to ensure that we deliver value to customers at every stage of their journey, however, whenever and wherever they choose to shop.