One thing is clear: retailers cannot ignore mobile technology, mobile commerce and mobile payment. Still unclear, as the industry moves into the 2011 holiday season, is how fast certain mobile components will become part of retailers’ everyday activities. Industry experts shared their insights and predictions during the Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2011, held at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York on September 8.
Mickey Alam Khan, Editor-in-Chief of Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, welcomed event attendees, speakers and sponsors to the one-day event. A plethora of industry experts ― including retailers, researchers and mobile marketers — delivered their perspectives, success stories and predictions during 11 different sessions.
Mobile Payment Still On The Horizon
During the final session of the day, Dekkers Davidson, head of mobile business for Barclaycard US, noted that the industry should not expect to see widespread use of mobile payment until approximately 2014.
In the meantime, the industry should focus on the question: “How can the market aggregate around mobile?,” Davidson noted. He suggested that the players ― including merchants, card issuers and credit card companies — should “galvanize” around ways to help the market aggregate, such as focusing on Near Field Communication (NFC) and cloud-based services.
In the meantime, Barclaycard is working to design a mobile payment interface that will offer an appealing customer experience around 4 key design principles: simple, rewarding, personal and relevant.
Mobile Success Stories
A selection of retailers representing different retail segments shared their mobile success stories during the event. Michael’s Stores, 1800Flowers, Equifax, Paper Hat Press, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have each realized significant benefits from the implementation of mobile applications and mobile commerce.
Michael’s Stores was looking to update its marketing efforts and develop new channels, according to Anthony Price, Senior Director of Digital Marketing and PR. The art supply retailer wanted to reach its younger customer base and become less dependent on the weekly, printed store circular. During focus groups, Michael’s discovered that 50% of its online customers had a smartphone or planned to purchase one in the near future. “They wanted access to Michael’s coupons on their mobile devices, with the ability to redeem them in stores,” noted Price. But at the time, “Our POS systems didn’t allow it.”
In June 2011, Michael’s enabled mobile coupon scanning on its POS systems. “It was the hugest win ever for us,” said Price. “Our customers went crazy when we announced it on our Facebook page.”
In July 2011, Michael’s launched its first iPhone app. To date the app has been downloaded more than 105,000 times “with very little marketing,” Price noted. The merchant plans to put forth a directed marketing push for the mobile apps following the introduction of the Android app later in September 2011.
Other mobile retail initiatives include:
- Equifax has designed a mobile roadmap, based on customer feedback, which focuses on 3 categories of customer needs around credit reports: discover & learn, manager & monitor, and decide & control. With that roadmap in place, the company designed a mobile web site. “We didn’t want to just put everything from the regular web site on the phone,” noted Ravi Acharya, Senior VP of Technology for Global Internet Solutions at Equifax. “We asked ourselves: ‘What are the use cases that add value from a mobile perspective?’.”
- Paper Hat Press, a children’s custom book publisher, used mobile advertising to engage with customers. Using opt-in ads that customers sign up for, the company was able to customize promotions. As a result Paper Hat quadrupled its email marketing database and is reporting promotional email open rates 10% above the industry average, according to Manish Naik, CEO. The program, designed and executed by Pontiflex, delivered a more than 200% ROI. Naik added: “And I suspect the ROI will rise as the holidays approach.”
- The Pittsburgh Penguins organization is using Short Message Service (SMS) campaigns to build a loyal customer following, after discovering that Penguin fans are 44% more likely to text compared to the typical Pittsburgh citizen; they are 77% more likely to use mobile for email; and they are 144% more likely to use mobile for video. In a program called the Student Rush Club, the Penguins send out messages alerting college students about ticket availability. With 26,000 members, the program receives a 53% active response rate.
- 1800Flowers redesigned its 6-year-old mobile web site in September 2011, focusing on a better user interface and offering additional functionality. To reach its gift-oriented consumers, the merchant has found success through the implementation of acquisition marketing campaigns that utilize mobile search, SMS, push notifications and mobile display.
During the event, executives from OgilvyOne and InsightExpress offered research and statistics covering holiday mobile marketing and a view of the holiday mobile shopper.
For more on the summit and to view session presentations, go to www.mobilemarketer.com.