We've seen plenty of big developments in both the retail and mobile industries in 2012. Interestingly, many of these have brought the two closer together. The increased update in smartphone and mobile apps has led to greater demand for the likes of in-store Wi-Fi and the beginnings of a move towards augmented reality. The latest research from IAB reveals that 69% of UK consumers expect their mobile usage to increase by 2015, so this is only going to increase as we move into 2013. But, what will the year ahead hold for mobile and retail? Here are some predictions on what to expect and how to make the most of the opportunities coming our way:
1. Mobile will become the lynchpin of loyalty
Many brands and service providers, including the likes of Apple, Google, and PayPal, are making their first foray into the mobile wallet. As a result, UK users are becoming increasingly familiar with using mobile as part of their instore retail experience, for both payment and loyalty. Retailers are adapting their point of sale (POS) in order to accept these digitally savvy customers, and gather a wealth of data on actual behaviour in order to personalise offers and close the digital loop. With customers responding positively to the immediacy and convenience mobile devices bring, this type of retailer offer is going to grow rapidly in 2013.
2. POS will become truly mobile
New entrants into the payment market, such as Square, iZettle and mPowa, are giving retailers a whole new way to accept payment transactions via mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. This is just as applicable to the large multinational retailers as it is to the local UK tradesmen. There will be less scrambling around for cash to pay the window cleaner in 2013, as mobile becomes an even more integral part of a transactional process for the digital and physical world. The launch of 4G will only accelerate this.
3. The retailer mindset will shift - enough of the omnichannel already
Phrases such as multichannel and omnichannel have become a central part of retailer jargon. In actual fact, there are just two channels, digital and physical. So the likes of Scommerce, Mcommerce, Ecommerce, and Tcommerce will be replaced with one universal term - Digitalcommerce (D). For retailers, Dcommerce will be essential for embracing customer engagement on any platform, across the digital and physical world to drive sales. In fact, instore Dcommerce will usher in a new era for payment, promotional marketing and loyalty as much as it will do for sales.
4. Showrooming will make its mark
Research in the US, by EKN, predicts that 80% of retailers will be affected by showrooming during the festive period this year alone. Furthermore, research from IBM also claims that mobile is a bigger purchase influencer than ever before. As the lines between the digital and physical worlds continue to blur it is true that retailers will find themselves competing not only with their neighbour on the high street, but with the growing number of online retailers too. However, this needn't be cause to panic and shut up shop. There's an opportunity in the year to come for retailers to step up and provide the knowledge and service instore that will translate into sales. From the basics of customer service, to the latest tech including interactive barcodes, mobile vouchers and coupons there's an array of tools available to bolster retailers' arsenal in 2013.
5. 4G will make its mark on the UK
From providing broadband to rural or isolated areas, to enabling high definition TV streaming over mobile devices the impact of 4G will be far reaching in 2013. We are also going to see more utility and entertainment brands launch software and apps that will allow people to programme their homes to run more efficiently. We're already seeing growing popularity for the likes of the Sky and British Gas heating app. People are going to become increasingly reliant on their mobile devices for everyday activity, from travel, and entertainment, to work. Moreover, it will enable the next level in machine to machine communication. Just think back to how the launch of 3G and the wide adoption of smartphones so quickly became the norm. Of course, the transformation that 4G will bring won't happen overnight. Price will be a barrier to entry in the medium term, but it will be overcome.
Advances in mobile technology look set to help change the face of physical retail as we know it. From engaging shoppers in-store via Wi-Fi, implementing augmented reality and barcodes, to digitally processing offers distributed via mobile, retailers have the opportunity in the year ahead to drive footfall and reach consumers in a more contextually relevant context than ever before using intelligent data. For those wanting to come out on top in 2013 the key will be to plan for the future now. It's going to be a case of survival of the smartest.