“In general, mobile phones are increasingly becoming the remote controls for people’s lives,” explains King. “Any retail business needs to be prepared at two levels: 1) to accept mobile-payment technology; and 2) [within] the broader mobile commerce and mobile marketing space, there’s a growing number of applications that provide opportunities for retail stores; [particularly in] recurring customer relationships, and offers and specials via mobile technology.” This may involve text messaging customers to let them know that you’re offering “20% off tomorrow on selected items,” adds King. “You can do that with email too but chances are they’re going to be more likely to respond or be aware of something getting to their mobile phone.”
Retailers don’t need to run out in a frenzy, revamping their technological strategies however, says King. Mobile, in particular, is simply something that retailers should begin familiarizing themselves with and then begin integrating sometime in 2012. The urgency can depend on the city a store is located in. Is it a tech-savvy city? If so, then the owner may consider accelerating the process. “Starting in 2012, we’ll start to see mobile payments begin to take off. It’s a trend that probably won’t hit [retailers] hard until 2013 or 2014—but retailers have to start thinking about what it means when someone says they want to pay with their mobile phone,” he explains.
Mobility leads to location-based technologies, which is something else King foresees as a growing aspect of retailing. Location-based technology equates to consumers checking in their locations on a site, such as FourSquare, and retailers, for example, having the opportunity to offer consumers who are within proximity deals, etc., via their mobile phones.
Another opportunity that is becoming increasingly familiar is daily deals. “One of the exciting things about daily deals is that it brings together buyers and sellers in a more efficient way than in the past, in terms of local commerce,” says King. “It’s hard to find the right people to target in local business. You use flyers and talk to people, but there’s a lot of people out there who could potentially [patronize] your business who may not know that it exists. The nice thing about daily deals is that [the deal appears in people’s inboxes], such as: Try out this place to get your hair cut.” And prior to the email, the person may not even have known it exists, explains King.
King admits that there have been successes and failures with this particular retailing strategy. Businesses often got the shorter end of the deals. But his research leads him to believe that it’s all part of the maturation process. Consumers love it—and it will begin to work in businesses’ favor too, he asserts.
“The programs are getting more refined. They’re learning what works and what doesn’t work, the combination of more attractive pricing and better targeting.”