Retail Salespeople must Evolve with Mobile to stay Relevant (Mobile Commerce Daily)

As mobile applications and sites increasingly fill each and every need of shoppers, do retail salespeople need to worry about their jobs? Experts seem to think there is no need for concern, only change.

Shoppers can now check if an item is in stock, locate a product on mobile maps of stores, scan items for prices and purchase items, all from their mobile devices. Some may question what is actually left for the salesperson to do, but in fact, the job is simply evolving...

“Customers are going to use their phones whether or not a retailer wants them to, so brands have to recognize this evolution in consumer behavior and adapt,” said Mason. “Retailers should not be afraid of having customers use their smartphones. They should encourage it.”

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Mobile Continues to Gobble up a Larger Piece of the Pie (Internet Retailer)

The shift from desktop to mobile shopping continues unabated, new research shows.

From June 2012 to June 2013, the percentage of web sales from smartphones at 18 retailer clients of mobile commerce technology provider Branding Brand increased 76.9% from 2.6% to 4.6%, the vendor reports. The percentage of web sales from tablets increased 42.8% from 9.1% to 13.0%. And the percentage of web sales from non-mobile computers decreased 6.7% from 88.3% to 82.4%.

Thus, in June 2013, mobile commerce accounted for 17.6%, or $31.7 million, of total web sales of $179.8 million at the 18 retailers.

Branding Brand has more than 150 clients, it reports. The vendor selected the 18 retailers it measures monthly because they provide an average look at m-commerce, says Christina Koshzow, managing director. “This allows us to suss out real trends in mobile rather than reporting on sudden spikes or events that might only affect a small handful of clients,” she says. “We'll probably expand the sample as we continue to gain clean year-over-year data on more retailers.”

Consumers are shopping on mobile devices more than they are buying on the devices. From June 2012 to June 2013, the percentage of visits from smartphones at the 18 retailers increased 66.2% from 12.9% to 21.5%. The percentage of visits from tablets increased 35.1% from 9.5% to 12.8%. And the percentage of visits from non-mobile computers decreased 15.3% from 77.6% to 65.7%.

So, in June 2013, mobile devices accounted for 34.3%, or 26.3 million, of 76.7 million total visits to the 18 retailers.

Conversion rates are up across the board from June 2012 to June 2013. Smartphone conversion went from 0.43% to 0.47%, tablet conversion jumped from 1.57% to 1.69%, and non-mobile computer conversion went from 2.06% to 2.14%, Branding Brand finds.

And mobile devices running Apple Inc.’s iOS mobile operating system continue to trounce those running Google Inc.’s Android, Branding Brand says. The iPhone accounted for 68.2% of June 2013 smartphone traffic at the 18 retailers, Android smartphones 29.1% and other smartphones 2.7%. The iPhone accounted for 76.1% of smartphone revenue, Android smartphones 21.7% and other smartphones 2.2%.

Apple’s iPad accounted for 94.5% of June 2013 tablet traffic at the 18 retailers, Android tablets 5.4% and other tablets 0.1%. The iPad accounted for a whopping 99.0% of tablet revenue and Android tablets 1.0%.

Branding Brand is No. 1 among mobile commerce vendors in the “Leading Vendors to the Top 1,000 E-retailers.”

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When will Mobile Web Traffic Surpass PC Traffic for You? (Forrester Blog)

A few of our clients have shared with us their mobile traffic and forecasts. Quite a few - especially retailers - expect mobile (in this case phones and tablets) to surpass non-mobile traffic by Black Friday if it hasn't happened already. This tipping point will be the catalyst for many discussions:

  • What web site is my primary web site? Or is there such a thing if I use responsive design tactics?
  • How should I be dividing my resources among screens? The backend infrastructure is shared, but PC front end work still takes the lion's share of resources.
  • Is consumer use of the web changing?
  • Is overall usage climbing with mobile? or is mobile or tablets cannibalizing PC traffic?

Take a look at Branding Brand's report for more stats and information. It's loaded with good stuff.

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Wowing Tablet Shoppers (Internet Retailer)

Sephora strives for really cool as soon as a customer opens the app. The app's Home screen, built by mobile commerce technology provider Branding Brand, is a mash-up of products and content from throughout the app and e-commerce site, as well as the retailer's latest Facebook posts, YouTube videos and current product promotions. The Home screen prominently features Today's Obsession, a featured product selected by a Sephora employee. The point is to make sure app users know there will be fresh content every day they return to the app.

Swiping horizontally from the Home screen takes an app user to the Social section, where users can see and share posts, videos and tweets. The section also includes posts from Sephora's own social network, Beauty Talk.

Like Sephora, Vitacost.com Inc. wanted to dazzle its customers on iPads. But the vitamins, supplements and food e-retailer took a decidedly different path: Rather than build an app it created a standalone web site just for iPad users, Discover.Vitacost.com. The site, launched in April, works on many different tablets, but was specifically optimized for iPads because iPads account for the majority of Vitacost.com tablet traffic. Vitacost.com chose a site over an app because it says its research found that many apps are only used a couple of times immediately after download. The merchant discovered it could create much of its intended tablet user experience using HTML5 on the web, so it went with a site. HTML5 is an advanced programming language that can create sites that in many ways look and function like apps.

On the iPad site, products are encased in tiles that slide horizontally across the screen. A consumer can filter 40,000 products by type and category. Touching a tile displays product details. Users drag the tile to the shopping cart to add it to their cart.

"The swiping was the functionality we wanted, an easy, gesture-based ability for people to get through a lot of products quickly," says David Zucker, chief marketing officer at Vitacost.com.

Then there are what Vitacost.com calls "browsing bubbles." These circles dot the screen when a product detail window is displayed and offer the customer a variety of shopping options....

The Vitacost.com tablet site is a perfect example of a site being optimized for tablets, says Borg of Aberdeen Group. "It's simple and easy to understand, it doesn't need any instructions," he says. "It is a delightful experience."

...Sephora designed its app in-house but hired m-commerce technology vendor Branding Brand to build the app. "We brought the core ideas of exactly what we were looking for; I drew the Social section, for example," says Sephora's Dolan. "How to technically make that happen in a sustainable way was Branding Brand's contribution."

Zucker at Vitacost.com says the merchant's tablet site required outside professionals to create something truly different. "Internally we're too busy with day-to-day stuff to be thinking much out of the box," Zucker says. "Vendors are immersed in out-of-the-box thinking, and they have tons of mobile experience at their fingertips." It hired mobile design firm Fell Swoop LLC to design the site and Branding Brand to build it.

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Is Mobile Failing at Point-of-sale? (Mobile Commerce Daily)

The overwhelming presence of antiquated point-of-sale systems and infrastructure is currently preventing mobile from realizing its full potential in-store.

Technology is changing constantly and more marketers are jumping on the mobile payments bandwagon. However, without correct hardware and education, point-of-sale adoption might still be an ongoing challenge for many.

“While workarounds and layered solutions are possible, at a certain point, retailers have to commit to revisioning their in-store experience from a mobile-integrated perspective,” said Chris Mason, co-founder/CEO of Branding Brand, Pittsburgh.

“Retailers will be judged more and more on their ability to provide a mobile-ready experience,” he said.


Key insights
Extended product ordering, self-checkout, in-aisle checkout, ereceipts, and virtual POS experiences are some of the key entry-points for evolving the in-store experience.

Nowadays, many marketers are creating more options for tech-savvy customers.

A recent report from IHL Group found that 33 percent of retailers have no plans to adopt mobile point-of-sale systems soon, suggesting that plans to deploy smartphones and tablets in-store have slowed compared to a year ago.

When it comes to POS systems, deployment is key.

The key operational issues involved with adopting mobile POS include device and merchandise security, how to handle cash, payments, bags, customer service levels and reworking traffic flow.

Although many are struggling, others such as Starbucks and Apple are making great strides at integrating mobile into their in-store experience.

“Embracing Passbook and using convenient mechanisms to interact with the brand are great ways to effectively drive loyalty,” Mr. Mason said.

“Although retailers will drive limited experiments, widespread adoption will be slow,” he said. “Traditionally, old systems are heavy, costly, and work in long migrational cycles.

“Now that POS can be virtualized and has to be mobile-ready, the same rigor that exists for successful ecommerce teams has to be introduced in stores. Retailers must embrace fast innovation cycles and adapt at a quicker rate.”

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