CompuCom Systems and BestFit Mobile sponsored the Retail RAMP conference on mobility in Chicago. Over five hundred retailers participated in the event, with a mix of about 45% marketing and 55% IT execs (top topics of interest below). CompuCom and BestFit sponsored break out sessions on both mobile app strategy, development and infrastructure services that enable mobile in retail.
Mobile Trends in Retail
We had some key findings we’d like to share with you. Out of 100 retail executives, we asked you to self select a break out session topic. The following includes the key areas of interest for retailers building out their mobile solutions :
- 35%: Consumer Mobile – Apps, CRM, Loyalty, Strategy
- 35%: In-Store Associate Mobile – Apps, POS, Payment, Internal, Strategy
- 20%: Newspaper Media Budget (Paper is Dying) – Mobile 1 to 1 CRM
- 5%: Trusted Cloud/Data Center – Big Data, Availability, Security, Governance
- 5%: Mobile Device Management (MDM) – Security/Tools
- 0%: In-Store WiFi Access Points and Infrastructure
We were expecting the allocation to be an even split between topics, especially considering that the group of retail executives who participated was split 50/50 between IT and Marketing. However, what we found is that almost everyone is extremely excited about Consumer and In-Store Mobile Strategy and Apps to transform how we’re doing business today with customers as well as employees/associates. We are using mobile technology and strategies to create the Store of the Future.
We are seeing a similar trend with our retail clients! Mobile is changing how your customers interact and shop in your stores, as well as how your employees and associates interact with customers. You are rolling out mobile devices to your stores,
both iOS and Android (and thinking about Microsoft 8!). You are rolling out apps to customers, and apps to associates. But in order to properly support the security, data, and real-time availability of your Store of the Future environment, there are some key areas beyond strategy and apps that need special focus; namely Cloud, MDM and In-Store Infrastructure.
Mobile is Buzzing at Retail RAMP
What is hard to capture in mere words alone is the buzz that come along with this conference, especially when mobile is involved. Time after time, the Retail RAMP show has been drawing CMO’s and IT execs for almost all of the top retailers. The agenda for this round of the conference was entered around helping retailers brainstorm the transformation of retail by taking advantage of mobile apps and mobile infrastructure. The reason retailers are interested in transformation now is: first, newspapers are dying, down 70% in advertising; and second, most of their customers already have smart phones.
Wal-Mart and Target had a closed door meeting with retailers to hear first hand how the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) can help large retailers who are dissatisfied with current mobile commerce options by joining forces to offer merchants a better alternative.
The place to begin retail transformation is putting mobile apps in the hands of the customer. Then you know who the customer is, where they are and you can message them by pushing coupons to them that can be redeemed in the store. This is real “one to one marketing.” You can create a user preference center, which helps with the question what are they looking at?
This step involves putting similar power that the consumer has into the hands of the retail associate. Both the customer and the retail associate can look up product ratings and reviews. “Geo fences” are drawn around the perimeters of the stores and beacons are installed at key locations in the store. By connecting the customer to the retail associate, the retail associate knows when the customer walks into the store, who they are, and the customer can request help from the associate via a help button on the store app. The retail associate can query the purchase history of the customer and make recommendations to an individual customer that fits their persona. This is the first time that a retail associate can know any loyal customer’s preferences in real time. This is what omni-channel set out to accomplish in retail but until now the web, social and in store marketing were not integrated. There is only one channel.
Shifting Newspaper Spend to Digital and Mobile
It is very important to have a source of money that can fund these new digital initiatives and most retailers have already incorporated mobility into their “store of the future” planning. One unique benefit is that there are no analytics with newspaper spending, and thus it is challenging to prove the spend works. Finding retailers with $100 million newspaper spend is quite easy.
Trusted Cloud/Data Center
In order to have the first two steps, you need to be able to access all data about customers in real time from different, usually silo’d applications. New technology from SAP makes queries on large amounts of data 100,000 times faster. The need for this is easily understood when you consider how the systems will be taxed with 100 beacons per store, in a 1,000 stores, with all associates and customers with mobile devices doing queries.
In-Store Infrastructure and Wireless
It’s kind of a small leap to conclude retailers will need a bigger pipe. What is needed?
Cell phone repeaters-because customers won’t know to turn WIFI on as they enter a store. Low energy Bluetooth-creates the new hot spots that can pinpoint a customer to exact locations in a store—WIFI triangulation only puts you within 5-10 meters of your exact location.
A lot of buzz around mobility is for mobile payments, but mobile payments alone don’t improve the retail experience absent many of the apps/projects in this article.
Another topic we are pretty well acquainted with is MDM. There are a lot of associates who will be outfitted with smart phones, and additional features will be required like identity management in case a shared smart phone disappears, you need to be able to know who had it last.
So, you might be thinking have any retailers got customers with apps? Uh, yes. Michaels has 2.5 million, Target has 10 million and Walgreens has 15 million. Oh, and Bed Bath and Beyond execs (CMO, CIO, Director of Electronic Commerce and two more “C” level officers) saw a live demo of this exact set of features last Friday.
So this is real to many progressive retailers today. Below you will find an example of a real time dashboard and the low energy Bluetooth beacons used by Best Fit and CompuCom at the Retail RAMP conference in Chicago.
See some videos on this great new mobile technology for retailers.
- Video: Overview of the mobile store of the future using the Experience Captain
- Video: Detailed explanation of how retail mobile beacon technology works