Retail is able to achieve more and more, particularly by reaching younger consumers via cell- and smartphones. That’s why applications – so-called apps – for the new mobile gadgets played a very big role at the EuroCIS. Yet also in existing online-shops and stores, many processes can be improved with new software.
Here is a foray into digital marketing
At this point in time, more than four million people in Germany enter the mobile Internet. Every other person in this group uses mobile Internet even daily or several times per week. Compared to the previous year, this is an increase of 40 percent. The number of “heavy users“ has actually nearly doubled during the past 12 months. This is revealed in the trend study „Mobile Internet Use 2011“ (“Mobile Internetnutzung 2011”) by the market research institute Nordlight Research and market researcher Webfrager GmbH. They surveyed 1,000 users, aged 16 years and older.
Paying by cell phone is something that will occupy retailers more and more. There are also ever more applications, which will make store management easier. Service providers of mobile data acquisition equipment (MDE) take notice of this development, but are not afraid of it. Their equipment is said to be much more robust and ergonomic. The new tablet PCs can also make sense for retailers – from monitoring shelf layouts to the ordering system all the way to presentations during the sales pitch. You don’t need to have every product variation out on the sales floor, if you can also show it to your customer in a video.
Direct marketing more and more often becomes mobile marketing
For the past six months, the grocery discount supermarket chain Netto has already been offering its customers the option to catch up on the weekly sales offers via mobile phone or smartphone. All current sales promotions, which are also advertised through flyers, are pictured including photos and descriptions. At the EuroCIS, Valuephone and GK Software announced that their customer Netto now is also joining mobile couponing The discount supermarket chain transmits coupons in the form of barcodes, which can be redeemed at the checkout counter by scanning in the cell phone display with the code. This way, Netto knows exactly which customer redeems which coupon at what time. To implement this project, Netto didn’t need to invest in additional hardware, since the entire process runs on a small add on program, a so-called plug-in, on the already existing POS software.
Especially the young target audience is particularly open to such technical innovations. In November, SportScheck launched a mobile commerce initiative. The online shop with 25,000 items has since then been optimized for all popular smartphones. With an application for the iPad, you can flip through their catalog on the go and order. The “SportScheck Outfitter“ is an application for the considerably smaller iPhone, which is intended to combine shopping with a playful user experience: While out and about, the user notices an outfit, takes a picture with his smartphone and integrated image recognition takes him to his personal dream outfit at the online store (www.sportscheck.com/mobile) . The sporting goods chain store uses the Lucas-POS software by service provider Torex for this with the clear intention of becoming No.1 in the mobile sports retail sector.
Another innovation in the new SportScheck applications is the link-up to social media. Users can introduce their purchased items on Facebook to their friends. This way, you can also use social commerce via mobile commerce – marketing through social networking sites. Experts see an enormous growth potential in this type of multi-level marketing. Admittedly, so far you won’t find many of the older customers who have possibly more money to spend on these sites.
Multi channel calls for new structures
More and more distribution channels add up to more product data, which has to be reconciled. Product information management (PIM) assists with this. Oftentimes, data is not concentrated at a central location within companies, but is rather scattered with employees and in departments, sometimes only available on paper or as information, but then also in different formats. PIM enables uniform product data across all communication channels. There is special software available for this.
However, ever more distribution channels also mean more and more options for analysis. For retailers, experts see an increasing need for integrated analytical methods for Website -, social media- and offline data, since commercial enterprises interlock online shops and stores more and more. This way, they can learn more about customer groups and thus optimize their marketing and product portfolio to avoid empty shelves as well as backlog due to inaccurate order quantities.
Whether it’s via an email to your cell phone or mobile phone, email marketing scores by its measurable actions. For instance, you know exactly whether emails have been opened or links been clicked on. However, in Germany the alluring creation of user profiles is subject to legal restrictions based on data privacy- and competition laws. The following applies: if data from the analysis of user behavior is linked to personal data such as an email address, an explicit approval is necessary. This also applies to data that is obtained with customer cards. This is not just about legal pitfalls, but also about an ever more critical public, which warns about the “transparent“ customer and also uses social networks like Facebook and Twitter or the Internet for its campaigns. Retail will have to increasingly pay attention to its reputation in the online world.
René Schellbach, First publication: EuroCIS.com