It’s the time of year when we like to take a breath and look ahead to the exciting trends for the coming year. Here experts at NN4M outline what he thinks are the six big things retailers can expect to see from mobile this coming year
According to Forrester, 42% of the global population will own a smartphone by the end of 2015. The highly advanced computers in our pockets are quickly replacing their desktop forebears. Already much more time is spent on mobile apps than on the Web. Mobile has reached a tipping point in 2014 as it solidified its position as one of the most disruptive technologies for businesses in decades.
While some retailers may shy away from mobile, many others are now seeing it as an opportunity to better engage with their customers, adopting a “mobile first” mind set. As we’ll explain, the need for a cross-device, mobile-first retail strategy will become even more apparent in 2015.
We expect 2015 to be the year that mobile payments begin to move into the mainstream. The battle to enhance and simplify the checkout experience will intensify as technology giants, established payment providers and disruptive newcomers contend for restricted space in retailers’ mobile checkout journeys.
Ultimately, the success of these new forms of convenient payment will depend on both customer and retailer adoption. If customers demand effective mobile payment capability, retailers will have to fall in line and adjust their approach to cater to the modern consumer’s needs. If Apple Pay does succeed – and its reputation and advancements in security, product design and customer understanding give it a very strong chance – this moment will be looked back on as a turning point in the retail payments arena.
Apple Pay and Zapp have stolen much of the limelight on this, and there is always Google Wallet , PayPal and more in the wings. What will win out no one knows.
US retailers, through a consortium formed in 2012, are building their own mobile payment app called CurrentC that cuts out credit card companies and gives them control over all transactional data. It’s expected to launch in 2015. In the interim, these retailers have no intention to adopt Apple Pay.
On this side of the Atlantic there is an app in development similar to CurrentC. It goes by “Zapp” and promises to cut credit card companies out of transactions, saving retailers a small percentage on every transaction. It works by taking money straight out of customers’ debit card accounts through a bank’s mobile app and passing it instantly to the retailer. Zapp, which is expected to launch in 2015, already has a range of partners signed up, including Sainsbury’s, WH Smith, McDonalds, House of Fraser and ASDA. It also has HSBC, Santander, First Direct, Nationwide and several other banks on board, which will give 18 million customers across the UK access to the service. Unlike CurrentC though, Zapp has confirmed that it’s not looking to block Apple Pay.
As mobile marketing technologies continue to evolve into 2015, retailers are likely to adapt their approach to reach their customers on a more personal level. In this time of connectedness, instant price comparison and choice, customers have never been more in control or harder to win over. Consequently, it is imperative for retailers to build personalised relationships with consumers on their channels of choice. We predict that in 2015, retailers will refocus their attention on capturing capricious customers on mobile through highly segmented and tailored messaging.
To accomplish this, retailers will need to adopt a more coherent and less disjointed approach. Users will quickly get turned off by blanket, one-size-fits-all communications that do not take into account behaviour or channel preference. To get through to their customers, retailers must make use of the tools at their fingertips to follow individual behaviour across various channels and connect with customers when and how they prefer.
The idea of highly advanced gadgets you can wear has been long anticipated. It seems that finally, the technology has caught up with the expectations. We predict that in 2015, wearable technology will proliferate in a variety of styles and price points, offering retailers unprecedented opportunities to connect with customers.
The Apple Watch is the company’s first effort to enter the growing wearables market, which already includes competitors Samsung, LG, Motorola and Microsoft. Apple is aiming to distinguish its product by offering it in a variety of styles and incorporating a range of health and fitness features through its Health app.
The $349 (UK price not yet confirmed) Apple Watch is expected to enter mass production in January, though that still leaves an actual launch date up in the air. Apple’s product page for the watch still lists early 2015 as the launch time frame.
The Apple Watch will work with Apple Pay when paired with an iPhone 5 or later, but it’s still unclear how this will get around the identification problem. It’s possible that the Apple Watch could be used for low-value payments only, which don’t require identification, or that the device may have a biometric sensor of its own.
Along with its other wearable, Google Glass (still in beta), Google has released Android Wear, which is effectively the Android Watch. It requires an Android device running 4.3 Jelly Bean and above. We can do two things with the wear watch: deploy a stand-alone app that is installed onto the watch and runs from the watch, or communicate from the watch with an app on a phone. Android wear will also display Push messages sent to a user’s Android device.
Smart watches could be used to allow e-receipts to display on a user’s watch for a more seamless shopping experience.
Additionally, a watch could store gift vouchers or loyalty card information via a QR code that could be scanned at checkout. This could also be used by staff to carry out stock checks straight from their watch.
Additionally, a smart watch could combine location technology with a user’s wish list and could, for example, alert a user when they are nearby your store if an item on their wish list is available in their size.
One thing is for sure: retailers should not dismiss the Apple Watch, Android Wear, or wearables in general, as a consumer toy. It is highly possible that smart watches will become a mainstream part of the retail world. In the next year or so, we predict a strong demand for retail solutions for these platforms.
4. AUGMENTED REALITY
Mobile is only just catching up with desktop computing as a crucial retail platform, but the technology has already moved on. Augmented reality (AR) may sound like a gimmicky sci-fi lover’s dream, but in recent years it has been invested in by many serious mainstream companies. Google, Microsoft, Sony and even Facebook are all vying to be the first to bring the first truly immersive consumer-ready AR devices to market.
Devices such as Google Glass, Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift and other lesser known names such as the Moverio BT-200, Sony HMZ-T1, Meta and Vuzix M-100 are jockeying for user attention, and you can bet that AR demand will begin to grow even further in 2015.
Topshop made a splash at London Fashion Week this year when it used specially commissioned 3D headsets to allow shoppers to view the catwalk show as if they were physically there. Participants had access to a 360 degree virtual world enabling them to watch models walk right past them and even see which celebrities they were ‘sitting next to’ at the show.
John Lewis partnered with Samsung to bring its Monty the Penguin Christmas advert to life with “Monty’s Goggles,” a Google Cardboard app. Using Google’s makeshift virtual reality goggles and Samsung smartphones, shoppers are able to explore “Monty’s Christmas”, an interactive story in a 360-degree panoramic world when they visit John Lewis stores around the country.
However, you may not even need a futuristic-looking headset to experience AR. Yihaodian, China’s largest food e-commerce retailer, has announced plans to open the world’s first augmented reality supermarkets in “blank city spaces” across the country. Customers who visit these spaces with a smartphone will be able to ‘see’ a fully stocked supermarket, complete with virtual ‘food’ users can scan with a smartphone to put in a virtual shopping basket and have delivered at the tap of a button. These virtual supermarkets, as seen from a smartphone, will be similar to the layout of real world supermarkets, without the long line for checkout or need to lug any purchases home.
5. LOCATION BASED MARKETING
In 2015, progressive brick-and-mortar stores will implement geolocation based mobile beacons to deliver offers and way-finding to keep the in-store shopping experience from becoming outdated. Personalised, location-based offers will be pinged to customers via their smartphones based on where they’re shopping.
Both Macy’s and Apple have already integrated an iBeacon solution in to their US stores, where consumers can interact with them in all kinds of scenarios. In the UK, John Lewis, Waitrose, Tesco and several other retailers are trialling the technology. Tesco has taken a customerservice approach to beacons, sending alerts upon entry if click-to-collect orders are ready and helping customers locate products on shelves. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are also piloting iBeacon technology at Heathrow Airport.
6. CLOSING THE OMNI-CHANNEL GAP
Connected consumers are causing a transformation in retail. These customers have access to a variety of new technologies and online resources that they are using to research product information and compare prices while in-store. Retailers are attempting to rise to this challenge by adopting an “omnichannel” approach, providing a seamless shopping experience through all channels, tracking connected customers as they move between desktop, in-store, mobile web and mobile app.
The buzzword “omnichannel,” considered to be an extension of “multi-channel,” has been gaining momentum in boardrooms and conferences throughout the world. In 2015, we foresee that this methodology will become the holy grail of all retail strategies.
In the past year, we have seen some brands piecing together the elements of each channel that their customers visit and combining them to improve the shopping experience. Smart retailers are starting to create the infrastructure for omnichannel by merging their analysis of separate channels to track a customer across devices to gain a bigger picture of the customer as a whole. For instance, department store Debenhams has enabled NN4M-managed internet-enabled kiosks in all of their stores, enabling customers to browse their entire product range while in-store and check availability before trying on items, giving their customers the best of both worlds.