Two Quick Takeaways On Where To Start With Mobile In Retail


Editor’s Note:
This article is the first in a three-part series on mobile and retail that explore where, how and what to leverage when launching mobile strategy.

The 2009 consumer is way ahead of any national retailer’s marketing department.  The consumer is leveraging their phone as a “mobile mouse” to click, search and explore in the mall, in the aisle. The retail CMO is looking for some new-fangled, high-tech way of engaging with this itinerate shopper.  The sage truth is that the marketing department is chasing shadows.

Instead of focusing on the consumer and how they are leveraging mobile in their stores, they are investigating widgets and apps that have little to no reach or frequency in their consumer base.


There are two simple things that I would suggest to the retail or manufacturer CMO:

1. Learn from history:

Take a Google back into the ‘90s and look at the then-emerging trends on the Internet. History tends to repeat itself. The Web browser was becoming standard on the desktop in the mid-90s. During this period of enormous growth, businesses entering the Internet arena scrambled to find consumer models that worked. Many companies were lured into thinking that developing applications on the desktop would give them market share and consumer mindshare: they did neither.

The desktop become too fragmented and difficult to navigate. As the PC browser matured and the speed of the Internet pipe increased, server-side solution that functioned INSIDE the browser i.e. “ASP Applications” became standard fare. Isolated in the browser, these in-browser solutions need a communication channel to engage and reengage the subscriber.  ASP applications used email as this retention tool.

We are presently reinventing the wheel with mobile. With the smartphone revolution, apps are the rage. “I-want-one-too” CEOs are running to their agencies and IT department and developing application that only five percent of consumers are returning to after a lonely month on the phonetop. So what are mobile consumers using?

2. Learn from your consumer:

Take an undercover trip to your local store, peer through your security cameras and watch the consumer. They are doing two things in your aisles: using their phones to browse and text. Is the consumer opening the browser to find tips and information to help with their shopping experience? Are they messaging home for the shopping list? Possibly. But the shopper is certainly not scanning 2D codes with their phones. They are not opening the security on their Bluetooth settings for inbound offers. They are not all downloading your app to their phone.

The consumer‘s mobile and online toolset is similar; they are both using their browser and messaging as the first data-click. Focus on these channels.

These mobile channels are so powerful because:

  • They are both standard on any phone nationally;
  • The consumer is already onboard;
  • They are proximate to purchase intent and POS.

The CMO should start where the consumer is: What is your text CRM strategy? What is your mobile web strategy? Solve these and you have the ultimate last-mile retail solution.

Gary Schwartz founded Impact Mobile in 2002 having worked in the IT and telecommunications industry for over 20 years. Over the past eight years, Gary has played a leadership role in the mobile industry, running the first cross-carrier short code campaign in North America, and founding the CWTA Mobile Content Committee to establish policies and increase awareness to promote standards and adoption. Gary is the founder and co-chair of the Mobile Marketing Committee for the US Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and is a director on the board of the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF).

Featured Event

Join the retail community as we come together for three days of strategic sessions, meaningful off-site networking events and interactive learning experiences.



Access The Media Kit


Access Our Editorial Calendar

If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below: