Mobile is the Best of Both Worlds
By David Dorf on Oct 04, 2010
When e-commerce first came on the scene, developers were figuring out how best to represent the store experience online. They created ways to see offers, browse products, and pay for purchases. But soon they exceeded the capabilities of the store in many ways. For example, they facilitated comments, ratings, comparisons, and wish-lists to name a few. Each channel (store, catalog, online) has its own experience with its own pros and cons.But now a forth channel has emerged, and it has the potential to unify the store and online experience, giving the consumer the best of both worlds. Urban Outfitter's CEO Glen Senk said as much at the recent Shop.org summit held in Dallas.
For their initial foray into mobile, Urban has enlisted the help of Starmount to build a mobile POS on iPod Touch devices. Urban's brands are already running Oracle Retail POS, so the open interfaces are ripe for a mobile extension. This solution is very similar to that being deployed by two other major retailers I've discussed before.
Its clear that mobile is a game-changer for retail, so retailers need a solid strategy to quench the thirst of consumers as they buy more and more smartphones and leverage then in the store. The keys to succeeding are:
- Don't let your mobile strategy be governed by marketing, direct, or store operations. It needs to be bigger than all three, and it mustn't be siloed.
- Multi-channel was good enough to start, and cross-channel is a marked improvement, but I think Brian Kilcourse is right in saying that omni-channel is the real target.
- Your mobile application must offer consumers something beyond just a shopping assistant. It needs to enhance the consumers lifestyle with features not found elsewhere. (A tall order indeed.)
Mobile represents an opportunity to put e-commerce features in the aisles, speed checkouts, and provide contextual offers anywhere, anytime. Make sure you're part of this innovative wave.