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Retailing and Mobility: Not Your Father’s “Shop by Phone”

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January 14, 2014
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2013 was a watershed year for Internet and mobile shopping, making giant leaps over previous records and revealing how most people now prefer to shop. And still, this is only the tip of the spear.

A survey  by the consulting arm of our technology partner, Cisco, reported that 80 percent of Americans use the Internet in some way when they shop. Eighteen percent use smartphones when they shop, a blossoming trend underappreciated by many retailers just a year ago.

The trend behind the trend is the Internet of Everything, a Cisco-coined term. Those retailers who embrace the notion and fully integrate online, in-store and mobile channels could see profits increase by as much as 12 percent by 2017.

Jon Stine, North America Lead, Retail, Cisco Consulting Services, put it this way: “Today’s mobile phone is a remote control for shopping.  The growing trend of consumers using mobile phones when shopping in the store is a wake-up call for retailers. The retailers that will win more revenues from customers today and in the future will be the ones that offer the best online experience and integrate it with the consumers’ in-store shopping experience.”

Other reports (one called “The Spending Season”) bear out these findings. Black Friday retail sales plummeted 13.2 from 2012. Online sales, however, skyrocketed by 17.3 percent on that same day. Not stopping there, e-store sales on Cyber Monday smashed single day sales at $2.3 million, 16 percent higher than the previous year. Not to be outdone, mobile sales climbed by more than 55 percent that day. The National Retail Federation put the number of mobile purchasers on Cyber Monday at 20 percent of all e-shoppers.

Retailers have their work cut out for them. Year-to-year changes in buyer preferences happen as fast as mobile devices and apps come to market. Setting up their IT systems and networking to handle whatever is coming their way in just ten months will consume a warehouse full of resources.

That’s an opening for security breaches. Trying to focus on too many things at once can mean that not everything gets the attention it deserves. Spending money on data security doesn’t generate revenue or create an immersive and connected customer experience. Security is certainly not ignored, and the checklist boxes get ticked. But a constant stream of infrastructure updates, new applications, and programs that encourage buyers to exchange personal data for value makes security and PCI-DSS compliance a moving target.

Perhaps moving some aspects of infrastructure to a PCI-compliant cloud that’s monitored 24/7 and audited regularly can alleviate some of the load, and let retailers focus on revenue generation.

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About Peak 10

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