Mobile Strategies for Retail

altimeter.pngAltimeter has some new research on Mobile Strategies for Retail. It concludes that many retailers are not doing enough for their customers despite the fact that the majority of them now carry a smartphone and are are amenable to making a purchase via mobile.

The report goes on to explain how retailers can develop a mobile strategy.

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I personally believe one of the problems is the perceived cost. Mobile is so popular at the moment that media and marketing agencies are becoming the predominant way of getting an app developed. Unfortunately, this puts up the cost and bureaucracy and it’s increasingly common for apps to end up costing six figure sums (dollars, Euros, pounds). It doesn’t need to be this way. Search out an independent mobile developer and you should be able to create your app for a low double digit cost.

Retailer Mobile Stores

advertisingage.gifAdvertising Age has a thought provoking article on how Retailers Worldwide Struggle to Keep Up With M-Commerce Demands.

I think the real problem is that it’s not that easy to take your existing web-based store and create a mobile version. As the article says, the UK’s large retailer such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis are creating mobile versions. However, they have large budgets. What about the large number of smaller retailers?

Up until now, most things sold via mobile are other things consumed on the mobile… games, applications, new levels etc. I see there’s a large opportunity to create a white label web-based mobile shopping store and maybe even multi-platform white label shopping store apps that sell real items and could be licensed to many smaller companies.

This opportunity is open to the giants (Apple, Google, Microsoft), existing web-based store vendors, payment providers, network operators or maybe even a new 3rd party developer. There are lots of issues not least interfacing with existing systems and payment but the first to crack these should have a very interesting and lucrative business.

Android Infiltrating Retail

mobiletoday.gifI receive the paper version of the UK Mobile magazine that’s mainly targeted at retailers and distributors. Last weeks’ edition contained many references to Android and this is indicative of how Android is infiltrating retail stores.

There was an interesting analysis of Huawei that mentions "Google’s preference is to have a Google UI rather than a skin on top because it is much easier to upgrade" and "Google are trying to influence all manufacturers to have unskinned Android devices".

There’s obviously a tug-of-war going on here because handset OEMs have added custom UIs in order to differentiate their devices. However, this customisation has resulted in phones that are more difficult to upgrade. This might explain why consumers have been waiting a long time for some Android OS upgrades. Maybe handset OEMs should be innovating sideways rather than on top of the platform. That is, create apps that integrate with OEM and operator services rather than modifying things that inhibit upgrades.

Elsewhere in the magaine, there’s an article on how Android is predicted to reach second place in 2010 and the Dawn of the Tablets. Finally, one graph that hasn’t found its way online is from Gartner showing Android "the big OS (World) winner in the first half of 2010". It puts Android’s growth into perspective…

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Retailers and Mobile

forbes.gifForbes Insights has a great new free report ‘Retail’s Mobility Imperative’, sponsored by Research In Motion, on retailers’ mobile strategies. The report is based on an ‘an exclusive survey of more than 300 executives at top U.S. retailers (multi-location chains with annual revenues of $100 million-plus).’

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Retail Motivations

Mobile Today were at the Symbian Smartphone Show this year trying to get people to sign up for their weekly newspaper. Mobile Today’s core readership is UK mobile retailers. Nevertheless, I signed up so as to gain a perspective of what drives the mobile sales channel. Is it phones, applications, services or tariffs?

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Over the last we months, the main themes driving the retail market have been…

  • People joining or leaving high profile companies
  • Stores opening and closing
  • Innovative/smartphone releases (RIM, INQ1, G1)
  • Broadband laptops

Apart from recent articles on Comes with Music and Facebook-friendly phones, there’s relatively very little emphasis on mobile applications and services. This is something that will have to change if the handset OEMs and network operators wish to push services as much as the phones themselves.

If you would like to take look at what really drives retailers and consumers you might like to subscribe or take a look at the Mobile Today web site.

Retail Equation

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Carriers Killing Mobile Innovation + Mobile Phones no longer used for calls = 28% of UK Mobile Phone Shops are in Danger

Mobile phone retailers are in a tight position. Tariffs from network operators are all about included voice minutes and texts instead of promised 3G services. Consequently, all they have to compete on is price.

Imagine a world where tariffs are based on things the user could do (email, voice, instant messaging, GPS mapping and directions, ebay, YouTube, football scores…). Imagine a retail store where these things can be demonstrated and sold to customers.