Mobile content covers the gamut, from the implementation of mobile apps and mobile web sites to in-store mobile technology. A fast-changing industry segment, mobile presents unique challenges to today's retail organizations. This section will help retail executives stay on top of the latest news, insights and information to help solidify cross-channel strategies and draw traffic into stores.

Forever 21 Releases Two Mobile Apps For Cross-Channel Holiday Shoppers

Forever 21, a specialty retailer of women's and men's clothing and accessories, is promoting two mobile apps for the holiday season: an augmented reality app, F21POP, and an updated mobile commerce app. Both are available for download on iPhones and iPads. "We want to blur the boundaries between fashion and technology,” said Linda Chang, Global Marketing Director for Forever 21, in a press release. “Our customers are digitally savvy and we strive to bring fast technology to fast fashion. Our new mobile apps allow us to engage our customers on a new level while making their shopping experience easier and more exciting." Both apps were designed to help bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping experiences. F21POP utilizes advanced image recognition technology, offering consumers access to exclusive holiday campaign videos. Using the app, shoppers also can place their phones in front of storefront windows, Forever 21 advertisements and the retailer magazine to watch images come to life.

Experts Discuss Mobile Growth, Impact Of Apple Product Marketing On Luxury Retail

Luxury and other upscale brands can learn from the Apple marketing techniques and innovative products that have impacted the retail industry significantly in recent years. In fact, Apple marketing and product ingenuity has helped expand U.S. smartphone penetration from just 3% of the population in 2007, prior to release of the pricey iPhone, to more than 47% today, according to a June 2012 comScore study. In a recent webcast presented by Luxury Daily, a luxury marketing publication, titled: What Apple’s Offense Means To Luxury Brands, Retailers And Rivals, Scott Forshay, Mobile and Emerging Technologies Strategist at Acquity Group, discussed how Apple innovation and the way consumers use Apple products are paving the way for engagement among luxury marketers and their audiences. In addition to Forshay, webinar panelists included: Tom O’Regan, Chief Revenue Officer for Martini Media; Patrick Frend, Managing Director of Razorfish; and Jack Philbin, President and CEO of Vibes.

Charley’s Boosts SMS Campaign Participation By 900%

As of July 2012, more than half (55.5%) of mobile subscribers own a smartphone, according to Nielsen, which is a substantial increase from 41% during July 2011. Some merchants are considering the benefits of using mobile apps to engage consumers, but what about feature phone users? Short Message Service (SMS), or text message marketing, is an effective way to instantly communicate with shoppers at all times, whether they have a smartphone or feature phone. One merchant recently uncovered substantial benefits from reaching out to customer via SMS. Charley’s Grilled Subs — a restaurant chain specializing in cheese steak sandwiches — has successfully increased engagement among customers and overall purchases as part of the brand’s newest SMS-focused initiative called: “Charley’s Philly Steak Blitz,” reported Ben LaPlaca, Creative Director of Charley’s, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Since the first SMS campaign in 2011, Charley’s has increased participation by more than 900%.

New Aéropostale Concept Store Features Mobility And Interactivity

Forward-looking retailers no longer are combating the continual rise of online shopping, but increasing in-store engagement and sales by leveraging more interactive digital tools and technologies. Aéropostale, a mall-based apparel retailer for teens, is upping the ante on its brick-and-mortar experience with a new concept store, which was unveiled at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, Long Island, on Oct. 19, 2012. Featuring interactive fitting rooms and iPad self-service stations, the new store was developed to “inspire a more solid emotional connection with our teen audience,” Anthony McLoughlin, Senior Director of Interactive Marketing for Aéropostale, told Retail TouchPoints.

Zynga And Honda Launch Reward-Based Mobile Advertising Campaign

Honda has rolled out a new mobile advertising campaign with Zynga, a provider of social game services, to drive awareness for the 2013 Honda Accord. Through the “It Starts With You” initiative, consumers playing the Zynga games, Words With Friends and Scramble With Friends, can earn in-game currency and game-play tips by finding and submitting Honda-related words. "Our deep understanding of the customer is what drew us to two of the largest mobile social word and puzzle games, Zynga's Words With Friends and Scramble With Friends," said John Watts, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at American Honda Motor Co., in a press release. "We think there's good alignment among the fans of these mobile Zynga games and the consumers that will appreciate all the new technologies in the 2013 Accord like our cloud-based HondaLink connected car system."

Best Buy Integrates With ShopSavvy Wallet To Better Connect With Mobile Shoppers

More consumers are tapping into smartphones to compare prices in brick-and-mortar store aisles. In fact, research completed via smartphones influences 5.1% of annual retail store sales, translating to a forecasted $159 billion for 2012, according to research from Deloitte Consulting. This influence is expected to grow to 19%, or $689 billion in brick-and-mortar transactions, by 2016. To keep pace with this challenging trend in mobile price comparison, Best Buy is extending product, pricing and deal information to more smartphone users by integrating its application programming interface (API) into the ShopSavvy Wallet mobile shopping application.

Apple Passbook Offers Retailers Greater Opportunity For Mobile Engagement

Apple has once again taken the market by storm with the introduction of the iPhone 5, but arguably the most significant news recently from the communications innovator is the Passbook offering, that allows iPhone users to integrate their loyalty cards, tickets and boarding passes within a single platform. As of Sept. 30, 2012, organizations including Merchant Warehouse, Fandango, Major League Baseball, Sephora, Target Corp., United Airlines, and Walgreen Co., have included Passbook functionality into their mobile apps. “With Apple Passbook, retailers can take advantage of the consumers who are already using their mobile device to shop, look for deals or comparison shop and target them instantly,” said Dan Dufault, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing for Merchant Warehouse. “Shoppers who receive these deals and offers can then take an immediate action and make a purchase. Retailers who implement mobile strategies such as Apple Passbook allow engagement with current customers and new customers, giving them a leg up on the competition, increasing retention as well as growing their business.” Merchant Warehouse recently announced that retailers utilizing the Genius Customer Engagement Platform now can accept Passbook at all brick-and-mortar locations.

Fox Head Launches Mobile Site Targeting Youth Market

As the 2012 holiday shopping season approaches, many retailers are executing smartphone and tablet commerce strategies to drive increased engagement and awareness. In fact, mobile will play a starring role this year, with consumers expected to spend more than $10 billion on mobile commerce ― and more than $31 billion by 2016 ― according to a Forrester Research report, titled: Mobile Mandate For eBusiness Professionals, To keep pace with the continued explosion of m-Commerce, Fox Head, an international youth sports retailer, has released a simplified mobile-optimized site to create a streamlined brand experience specifically for consumers under 18 years old. The site features in-depth search functionality, large, high-definition images and a seamless layout, “offering a relatively easy shopping experience,” John Hazen, VP of Global E-Commerce at Fox Head, told Retail TouchPoints. “This effort is about highlighting our products, not features.”

ForeSee, Millennial Media Share Mobile Trends, Holiday Expectations

The Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2012 conference was held during September 13, 2012, at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. The one-day event included a number of speakers from Barnes & Noble, Bloomberg, ForeSee, Groupon, HSN, Kraft Foods, Millennial Media, NBC and other industry leaders. During the conference, Larry Freed, President and CEO of research firm ForeSee, said that while addressing and measuring the customer experience is important, it also is one of the biggest challenges that retailers face. Freed’s presentation, titled: “Understanding the Holiday Mobile Shopper: Data, Actionable Insights and Analysis,” highlighted the demographics of today’s mobile shoppers, how patterns of behavior have evolved and shoppers’ intended use of mobile during the upcoming holidays.

Starbucks/Square Agreement Helps Spur Local Business Growth

Expensive interchange fees associated with credit/debit card payment processing, cumbersome merchant application procedures and mandatory credit checks are just a few reasons why many retailers prefer not to accept credit/debit payments. In fact, more than two thirds of the nation’s 27 million small businesses currently do not accept credit/debit cards. While this option helps businesses of all sizes reduce related costs and procedural requirements, it can deter traffic from customers who prefer these vehicles, especially as mobile payments become more mainstream. To provide a convenient, cost-effective and innovative payment experience for both sides of the counter, Starbucks Coffee Company has announced a partnership with Square, Inc., a provider of free credit/debit card readers and lower-cost processing for credit/debit purchases made via the iPhone, iPad and Android. Square is a start-up led by Jack Dorsey, CEO ― the former Co-Founder of Twitter. Square’s processing fees are 2.75% per swipe, according to its web site ― much lower than the average 2% to 3% of the total transaction amount merchants traditionally are charged.

The Mobile POS Tipping Point

  More retailers are weighing the benefits of mobile technology and marketing. However, to create a multi-dimensional brand experience, improve engagement and maximize customer service, retailers must understand the wants and needs of their customers, as well as the best tools to deliver upon these needs. During a recent webinar presented by Retail TouchPoints, titled The Mobile POS Tipping Point, Ken Morris, Principal of Boston Retail Partners (BRP), discussed two ways retailers can leverage mobile POS (mPOS) in stores: associate- and customer-facing mPOS. Associate-facing mPOS focuses on line-busting and allows store associates to provide product information and recommendations via smartphone or iPad. Customer-facing mPOS, however, allows shoppers to receive instant access to offers, inventory details, ratings/reviews and social media accounts directly on their personal mobile devices.

Fraud Prevention, Mobile Strategies Contribute To The ROI For EMV

As the debate continues over whether U.S. retailers are ready to embrace chip-enabled EMV smart cards to reduce payment fraud, industry players are moving ahead with developments designed to ease the transition to EMV in the U.S. Retail industry executives are aware that EMV is the global standard for smart card chip-and-PIN-related transactions and they must become EMV-compliant by April 2013; after that time they will be liable for card-related fraud, if EMV chip technology could have prevented that fraud. While fraud prevention alone may not deliver an acceptable ROI for EMV, the technology also will impact future integrations of mobile, contactless, card-not-present (CNP) and other payment strategies.

New Deloitte Study: Smartphones To Influence $689 Billion Of In-Store Sales By 2016

As smartphone sales proliferate, largely due to their increased availability and affordability, consumers are utilizing mobile phones more frequently to research potential purchases, prices and ratings/reviews. In fact, smartphones currently influence 5.1% of annual retail store sales, translating to $159 billion in forecasted sales for 2012, according to new research from Deloitte Consulting. This total is expected to grow to 19%, or $689 billion in brick-and-mortar transactions by 2016.

Mattel Optimizes Mobile Experience, Integrates PayPal Mobile Express Checkout Into New M-Commerce Site

As consumers continue to tap into their smartphones to research potential purchases, mobile commerce will continue to increase and impact overall retail sales. In fact, mobile commerce sales are expected to grow from $3.5 billion in 2012 to $31 billion in 2015, according to eMarketer. To keep pace with this anticipated growth, Mattel — a global manufacturer of toys, games and children’s apparel — recently unveiled its mobile-optimized site. The new release is powered by Usablenet, a provider of multichannel technology and solutions, and was developed to “address the needs of millennial parents and provide them with a technology-relevant solution,” Andres Amezquita, VP of e-Commerce for Mattel, told Retail TouchPoints.

IBM Unveils Augmented Reality Mobile Shopping App For In-Store Engagement

Shoppers are demanding more personalized offers, communications and item recommendations from retailers today. As a result, they are more willing to share personal information with retailers to ensure these experiences are provided. As many as 73% of shoppers would share their demographic information, including age and ethnicity, according to recent research from IBM’s Institute for Business Value. The 2012 Consumer Survey also revealed that 61% of consumers are willing to share their identification, such as name and address, and 59% are open to sharing information about their lifestyle.
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