Ofcom report highlights smartphone retail revolution
Ofcom published a fascinating report this week which confirms that the UK’s consumers remain the most advanced in Europe. Retailers should embrace their use of mobile in all channels. The report shows that 31% of smartphone users take photos of a product and 21% scan bar codes. Mobile is changing the way people search for and buy products. Forward thinking retailers are already capitalizing upon this by installing Wi-Fi networks, launching specific in-store apps, and enabling people to purchase directly using image recognition, barcodes and QR codes via instant mobile checkout on their smartphones.
How purchase is evolving through checkout and search
Digital designer Luke Wroblewski’s excellent blog post on the role of mobile in e-commerce has given us plenty to think about this week. He discusses the evolution of checkout and provides insights into boosting conversion rates. In 2011 checkout forms on US sites had a 75% abandonment rate which were attributed to shipping and handling fees.
We think there are two ways to increase conversion: increase the desire to buy and reduce the effort to make a purchase. The mobile environment is completely geared up to achieve both. Persuading people to make a purchase and making checkout super-efficient is bolstered by improved search capability. We’re going to experience a quantum leap in the way we search online.
New and emerging search technologies are already changing the text-based model of search in the mobile realm: in-built cameras and readers allow us to search for products using a powerful combination of audio input, QR codes, image recognition and geo-location.
Take image recognition. Just by taking a picture of the product you want to buy on your mobile phone’s camera you could checkout right there and then on your mobile. How’s that for ‘reducing effort’? And if you’re shopping in-store, there’s not a handling fee in sight.
Search: moving towards mobile as ‘trusted advisor’
The way we search is changing and this change will be reflected in the way retailers market their goods to consumers. We’re moving to a place where results are pushed towards you on the basis of your online behaviour based on personal profile and data.
Your mobile is a rich data repository which may store bank details, social networking profiles, contacts list and calendar. And that’s the game changer: comprehensive, linked-up information combined with geo-location and the fact that it’s always with you. In three to five years, the device in your pocket will transmit intelligent advice in a non-invasive way. Your mobile will become your trusted advisor. And the data only increases in relevance, the more you respond.
Mobile ‘at heart of challenge to retail’ says major report
‘The mobile phone is at the heart of the challenge to traditional retail as it significantly interrupts the classical notion of the purchase path,’ says the annual The Future of Retail report from trend research trailblazers PSFK.
Following on from last week’s blog, we were interested to read about the trend of services with an opt-in and the mobile app Pay with Square, from Square, which lets customers pay just by saying their name.
The app uses geo-fencing to allow users to identify stores within 100 metres of their location, view special offers and choose to start a tab. When they are ready to pay, the customer tells a staff member their name, which prompts the merchant to pull up the customer’s photo and account details on an iPad. The combination of potential to ‘pull’ customers into stores, ability to pay just by walking in and the personalisation (it tracks rewards) is a boon for business.
For now the app is used in small companies such as independent cafes. Electronic point of sale (EPOS) becomes complex when it’s applied to larger business such as supermarkets. Square, with Twitter creator Jack Dorsey at the helm, is doing great thought leadership in terms of proving just how good mobile retail could be if this were properly integrated. The question now is can he pass the baton to the bigger players?
Olympics mobile payment trial – first impressions
As the Olympic torch gets ever closer to its final destination, mobile payment trials continue apace. Touted as the ‘Official Phone of the Olympics’, the Samsung Galaxy S3 lets you pay for items up to £20 at Olympics venues. We’ve tried it and think it’s the slickest instance of NFC we’ve seen so far.
Other initial reactions have started rolling in from the 1,000-strong trial group. An NFC World reporter said: ‘Our first impressions are that the app is clutter-free and easy to navigate. Set up took ten minutes.’
‘It just makes life much more sensible,’ Olympic medallist Sir Steve Redgrave told The Independent this week.
We are witnessing an important milestone here. Rather than one company at the epicentre owning the entire value chain, the initiative takes a collaborative approach: the SIM is from G&D; the phone is issued by 02; the handset is from Samsung and payments are enabled by Lloyds TSB and Visa.
This suggests the advent of an exciting ‘second’ stage in mobile commerce in which all partners have to co-operate. Many of those involved in mobile payments are not used to working in such partnerships, but our belief is that collaboration is the keystone of success.
Dumping the ‘start from desktop’ mindset
More from Luke Wroblewski, in his Mobile To The Future talk at last week’s web development conference An Event Apart, he told delegates that the smartphone is the fastest spreading technology in history. More iPhones are activated every day than babies are born. People are twice as likely to make a purchase on a mobile.
But key to his talk was that ‘mobile is not desktop’. Designers and developers need to adopt a completely different mindset when designing for mobile. We agree with Luke: changing the way we think is crucial when it comes to mobile. It’s not just about considering that users will provide and receive information through a smaller screen than they are used to. It’s also about understanding that mobiles provide access to multiple forms of data, which in turn provides a spectrum of new and unprecedented marketing opportunities.
Cash: still alive and kicking
As the ‘future of cash’ debate rumbles on, the Payments Forward network in the UK has announced an event in October which poses the motion: ‘This house believes that emerging and mobile payments technology will mark the decline of cash.’
While some may envisage a cashless society, Mobile Money Network does not predict the end of notes and coins any time soon. For a start, we think there’s a hell of a long way to go before everyone has an NFC-enabled phone.
Not only do we have a very mature structure underlying the cash system in the UK, but cash is also downright convenient!
Carphone Warehouse boosts mobile checkout
Carphone Warehouse are actively encouraging consumers to shop with their mobiles. They’ve launched in-store registration, which means that thousands of new customers every week will be registered on their mobile checkout, which is powered by Simply Tap. The offering is multi-channel – Carphone Warehouse products can also be purchased through their app, in-store, on their website and in their printed comms too.
In the press
The current issue of Huthwaite Journal features an insightful article about The Mobile Money Network called The Evolution of Consumer Buying Behaviour which focuses on the rise of mobile purchasing. It’s a great background piece to what we’re doing and definitely worth a read.