Mobile Rising: Retailers’ Cautious Optimism and Trepidation for Mobile Commerce
Perhaps no other industry has been impacted more by the rise of e-commerce, digitization and the disruptive power of mobile than retail. Studies from Nielsen, Deloitte and others have focused on the shift in the balance of power between retailers and consumers, but few have delved into how these disruptive forces are perceived by the retail professionals chartered to harness their power.
To find out more, Oracle Retail surveyed retail business of all sizes, including a cross-section of people who lead and work for those businesses. More than half (54 percent) of respondents were from companies with greater than $500 million in sales, and 67 percent were Director level and above. We then backed up our data with qualitative interviews from industry leaders and practitioners to get a complete picture of mobile’s impact on retail.
Our Mobile Retail Insights report reveals an industry that has cautious optimism for mobile innovations, and how those innovations empower the consumer and the organization — along with a bit of trepidation. Here are some key findings from the survey:
Personalizing Mobile Shopping Remains Elusive
Consumers expect retailers to anticipate their needs by analyzing loyalty, purchase history and brand interactions. However, very few believe brands are effectively personalizing the mobile shopping experience. Over 80 percent of brands think that their success is mostly or entirely dependent on the customer experience; however, less than half have a customer experience strategy in place, according to a recent report from Gartner. A significant hindrance to personalization is consumers’ concerns around data privacy. According to our findings, 86 percent of consumers relate to these concerns, causing retailers to tread cautiously.
Retailers With the Highest Confidence Worry About Inventory
Retailers that believed they have the highest proficiency today and were most prepared for the future also thought that they were losing transactions due to associates inability to access relevant inventory information while on the sales floor, with less than 45 percent empowering their employees with mobile capabilities. Additionally, they regretted the inability for their customers to check inventory from their mobile devices while in-store.
Retailers With the Most Anxiety Worry About Promotions
Among retailers that struggle with proficiency today and preparedness for what’s ahead, 62 percent understood they’re leaving money on the table by offering general discounts to all shoppers. The inability to use personalized and near-field communications to provide promotions magnified their belief.
Many Retailers Are Missing Out on Mobile Empowerment
While retailers focus on improving the mobile shopping experience, less than half are paying attention to workforce enablement. By not implementing a strong mobile strategy for their workforces, retailers are missing the opportunity to capitalize on tangible benefits (e.g., assisted selling capabilities such as mobile checkout and inventory lookups) and intangible benefits (e.g., the recruiting and retention benefits of a mobile-enabled workforce).
Customers are smarter and more resourceful. Competitive barriers are lower than ever. In this environment, savvy companies are differentiating themselves through the experiences they provide. In retail, that means a personalized, omnichannel shopping experience and associates who are well-equipped to support their customers. These companies are investing in mobile and digital initiatives with applications across the front- and back-office processes.
To thrive in a mobile-first future, savvy companies will need to balance their investments in customer-facing mobile technologies and experiential improvements. Intently investing in both areas will enable retailers to provide a unified multichannel shopping experience.
Mike Webster is the senior vice president and general manager at Oracle Retail, a provider of innovative retail solutions featuring modern user experience, embedded AI, and machine learning via the retail cloud.