The retail industry has completely changed dynamics over the last two decades. With the rise of social media and the increasingly faster evolution of technological advancement, retailers have had to continuously pivot to stay relevant, according to Krishna Mehra, co-founder and CTO for Capillary Technologies, who argues that the gamification of the mobile channel could revolutionise the way customers engage with brands.
Alongside the informational internet also came the global phenomenon of e-commerce, leading to major shifts in consumer point-of-sale segmentation. And mobile growth has become increasingly prevalent, as evidenced by the 77% global increase of mobile devices and connections in just two years. In the US, smart phones have become the dominant mobile device with penetration rates exceeding 61%. For those aged 25-35, mobile penetration already stands at 78%.
And mobile has done even more for holiday shopping as 68% of smartphone owners and 63% of tablet owners have taken advantage of these devices for finding store locations, browsing catalogues, and making final purchases.
In 2003, Facebook put the social media phenomenon into full effect. Today, Facebook boasts 11.1 billion active users worldwide. Over 4 million brands have taken advantage of how social media promotes brand awareness by creating a Facebook page for loyal customers to follow. Social media encompasses several networks in addition to Facebook, all with high success rates. Twitter which reaches over 600 million followers allows brands to interact with their followers through tweeting and re-tweeting consumers to increase customer engagement. Twitter users send out on average 60 million tweets per day, and retailers can use this to their advantage when creating social media strategies to encourage brand awareness.
Some sites such as Pinterest focus on engaging consumers through pictures; allowing them to create boards and "pin" these items to a specific boards that can range from clothing or outfits to creative recipe ideas and everything in between. LinkedIn engages consumers who are career driven while Foursquare is a location based social media network focused on gamification tactics that allow consumers to "check-in" to a place in order to receive points, discount coupons and other loyalty incentives. The JOBS Act transformed the social media movement by allowing these networks to receive both private and public funding.
Some US$1.7 trillion dollars has been raised to engage companies and investment funds to advertise to the public via social media platforms. Consumers and retailers alike love social media for the interaction it provides them, the awareness it fosters and the intimate way it is revolutionizing retail campaigns.
But the most significant channel in retail shopping is not just online or social media driven consumer purchase, but rather mobile phone-based purchasing. While the average consumer uses multiple sales channels (creating an omni-channel retail environment that combines personalised channels both outside and inside the store), mobile devices have penetrated almost every major retail country in the world. Global smart phone usage has grown by 50% while the number of mobile tablets has increased to 92 million. In 2014 monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 15 exabytes. Over 58% of mobile phone users state that smartphones are their primary internet source. Tablets are also gaining popularity with 72% of tablet owners using these mobile devices to make weekly purchases. As the popularity of smartphones and tablet innovations increase they are creating a dominance that is keeping the world connected on an intrinsic level.
As mobile penetration rates soar the implementation of mobile marketing tactics has seen huge success. Analysing the growth of these penetration rates retailers can take advantage of implementing mobile campaigns that increase both online and offline traffic to provide substantial growth in ROI. Almost everyone in the world has a smartphone or other mobile device, and in many cases more than one. Mobile allows consumers to have access to a brand at their fingertips, and engaging these consumers through mobile to promote discounts and sales entices consumers resulting in larger basket size. Retailers can implement cross-selling and up-selling tactics with ease while promoting bundles through mobile marketing. Mobile marketing is a preferred platform in reaching consumers due to its high success rate in campaigns. Mobile brings the right product to the right consumer at the right time.
The Future of Mobile: Gamification
Mobile is already an easy way for companies to get involved in customers' lives, but its capabilities in the future are limitless. Mobile presents the opportunity for retailers to reach consumers on unbound, free-moving devices that represent the user's most common experience with technology on a daily basis. This opens the door to amazing tactics such as gamification, ongoing loyalty programme plays and instant offers, as well as other forms of entertaining customer-centric activity designed to induce purchase.
Yet the real power of mobile is in its ever-rising potential for innovation. Gamification is becoming increasingly popular in enhancing the level of customer engagement while creating positive brand awareness. Through tactics such as augmented reality and loyalty programmes retailers can engage consumers while exploiting such desires as competition, recognition and more. Through the development of mobile the power of gamification is greater than ever before. Consumers now have handheld game devices thanks to smartphone and tablet advancements. Gamification allows retailers another channel to enhance customer profiles while improving customer sentiment.
As an advance likely to take place at an even more rapid rate, developers have now begun to find ways to make mobile technology integrate more effectively with the purchasing activity than ever before. Beacons are becoming popular with retailers as they are effective for identifying customers and collecting accurate data. Beacons allow associates to identify consumers and link them to digital activity. This enhances the customer experience by allowing retailers to detect consumer wants and providing campaigns designated to draw in a larger consumer base.
Data collection can allow retailers the ability to analyse footfall traffic and drive in store traffic. Beacons also can be utilized to detect what mobile applications a consumer has which allow retailers to tailor mobile campaigns and strategies.
When these different forms of purchase activity combine to build out an even more textured consumer experience with exponentially increasing paths to the basket and general sales and data opportunities, the retail world will see yet another evolution. And looking back, retailers will see that the revolution began right about now, with the rise of the mobile retail culture.