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The retail industry has undergone numerous disruptions that has led to its evolution over time. From the way traditional retail was carried out which was merely transaction based and product oriented to the current day scenario, where the business is focused on being customer-centric, retail has come a long way. Majority of this disruption in the retail sector has been spearheaded by new and emerging technologies and their advancements.
Talking of disruptions in retail due to technology, one of the major disruptors is mobile technology. The first practical mobile device is invented way back in 1973 by Motorola, but since then the technology has gone through a range of advancements, and with the advent of smartphones in the last decade or so, the penetration of mobile devices has been in leaps and bounds across the globe. So much so, that many people are so dependent on their mobile phones in their day-to-day life that they carry out a lot of activities with the help of their mobile phones.
From researching for products, to receiving reviews, opinions and feedback on products through messaging apps and social media apps, to purchasing products online, mobile phones are practically used by consumers across their shopping journey. As such mobile has emerged to be an extremely important retail touch-point and for retail brands to ignore this, well, that is so not the thing to do. In fact, it should be the other way round.
Retail businesses need to identify the potential of harnessing the opportunities provided by mobile technology. Some of those opportunities are as follows:
- Mobile website: A mobile friendly retail website can prove to be the go to place for retail shoppers when they are not keen in traveling to a physical store. Shoppers can easily pickup their mobile phones and peruse through the products and prices listed on the site and simultaneously chat with their friends and peers and discuss the products for opinions and feedback. This aids faster decision making.
- Application: A mobile application can also be developed to offer an app-based shopping experience for retail consumers. The good part of the app is that it is locally installed in the mobile device and could work without internet, just that the inventory list may not be updated. But sometimes this is good enough for customers who are just looking for information.
- Instant messaging: Having applications for short messaging service (SMS), instant messaging such as Whatsapp for Facebook messenger, retail businesses can push promotional messages to the end customer and target prospects. As mobile phones are used on a daily basis and quite often during the day, the open rates of messages are pretty high and if the message is effective enough, it is sure to boost retail conversion rates and increase sales.
- Quick communication: These days checking emails on mobile phones is a norm and this happens day-in and day-out for most working professionals. In fact, it could be considered a let-down if responses are delayed as everything is available on the handheld devices. Running effective email marketing campaigns that are mobile device friendly, retailers can further increase impression share and attract eyeballs and generate interest for new products and offers.
While the above mentioned are some of the potential ways retailers need to make use of mobile devices to promote their business, there are more avenues to apply mobile technology in the business. Some examples of such applications are mobile point-of-sale software or M POS software , Mobile payments, geolocation, etc.