3 Ways Retail Will Embrace Mobile in 2016
In 2015, retailers took significant steps forward in their integration of mobile into the shopping journey, and as shoppers spend more time on their mobile devices, strategies will continue to grow in sophistication. Mobile payments and wearables were launched for a variety of platforms, and beacon adoption continues to rise, quickly transforming what consumers can expect from their shopping experiences. While there's still much to understand about where retail and mobile are each heading, there are signs that retailers will strengthen their use of mobile platforms in 2016, and begin to discover the real possibilities of connected consumers. Here are three, in particular.
The Rise of Beacons
Beacons have been a topic of intense excitement and discussion ever since they were introduced as iBeacons at Apple’s 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference. Forty-six percent of retailers launched beacon programs last year, up from only 15 percent in 2014. It’s not hard to understand why. Beacons, leveraged alongside wearables and push notifications, create a powerful link between a shopper’s physical and digital journeys. Consumers frequently make final decisions in-store, and retailers will now be able to recognize and reach these shoppers on their mobile devices with promotions to close a sale.
Furthermore, the communication between mobile devices and in-store beacons generates crucial new location-based data that wasn’t previously available to retailers. Customers’ in-store shopping patterns will be dissected as larger pools of data are collected and analyzed. The result of this increase in brick-and-mortar shopping data will be more accurate models of mobile’s return on investment, indicating how mobile strategies can be further refined.
This year, marketers favorite generation overtook their baby boomer parents to become the largest generation in the United States by population. Millennials represent where the country is headed, and as a result should be closely watched when planning future-focused strategies. When it comes to shopping, it appears the future is all mobile. Eighty-one percent of millennials primarily use smartphones to shop, and retailers want to reach them there now more than ever.
Millennials won't wait around for brick-and-mortar retailers to give them the multichannel experiences they've come to expect from so many apps and brands. To engage the next generation of shoppers, the rough edges of these technologies must be smoothed out by competitive retailers looking for an advantage. The more millennials drive adoption and impact digital culture, the more clear it will become how important smart mobile integration is to the future of retail.
Mobile Payment’s Not-So-Secret Weapon: Loyalty
While Apple, Google and Samsung stirred up the majority of headlines about their highly competitive mobile payment offerings this year, they weren't the most exciting mobile payment stories of the year. That title was won once again captured by Starbuck's app, which now averages over 6 million transactions each month.
Many have attributed Starbucks mobile success to its experience with the intersection of its loyalty program and mobile payment option. Other companies have caught on to the Starbucks model, and are looking to introduce similar programs of their own. These programs create incentives for customers while precisely packaging their shopping behavior data. It’s a level of engagement that will become irresistible to competing brands as mobile pay's install bases grow.
No retailer can afford to wait and see how mobile technologies might best be used. Businesses and consumers both stand to benefit from smart mobile shopping integration, and it’s up to the industry to define what this new ecosystem could and should look like.
Pat Dermody is the president of Retale, a U.S. location-based mobile and digital company conveniently connecting shoppers with their favorite retailers and brands locally.