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Author's profile photo Rakesh Gandhi

Combat Showrooming Head On | A Practical Guide for Immersive Consumer Mobile Experience

Consumer Mobile Journey for Retail Industry

“Close mcommerce loop with mobile Loyalty, Shopping list, couponing, mobile pay to the mobile receipt…”


The mobile explosion has taken the retail world by storm. It has empowered consumers, making them more informed and demanding. As a result, showrooming has become one of the biggest challenges retailers face today. During this past holiday season 80% retailers expected to be impacted by this phenomenon with an average sales loss of 5%. Yet, only 10% had a strategy to tackle this challenge.   (source:–The-Impact-of-Showrooming-on-the-2012-Holiday-Season83100). Innovative retailers will succeed, realizing their stores and their employees are key assets, and that tying them all together with increasingly powerful mobile technology will enable them to deliver an omni-channel experience personalized to each customer. These companies will:

  • Attract and retain customers
  • Gain wallet share and grow revenue
  • Increase engagement and boost loyalty

However, as retailers begin to create a sound mobile strategy they face many questions and challenges. This article will explore these topics, providing useful recommendations for organizations whether they are just jumping into the mobile fray, or are looking to take their program to the next level.

  1. Is mobile another emerging bubble or will there be lasting implications for my business?
  2. How to drive brand image and revenue uplifts leveraging mobility?
  3. Is converting our ecommerce site to a mobile web site enough, or should we be looking at mobile first strategy for consumers with mobile web/apps?
  4. How can we mitigate challenges of a constantly evolving mobile landscape, rapid mobile technological innovations, the need to integrate with complex enterprise backend systems and leverage mobile to provide a superior, unified, Omni channel consumer experiences  (accross Web site, in-store, call centers and etc.)?

These represent top questions in the mind of mobile architects and marketing department. Effective strategy is the one that provide marketers the agility to market, engage and drive “Moment to truth” — purchasing decision leveraging mobile capabilities with consumers. It is important to make sure that steps retailers take now is future proof, agile, low TCO and will drive their brand image, consumer loyalty and helps maximize wallet share per consumers.

Key Considerations for Consumer Mobile Journey

Gaining an understanding of consumer trends, challenges, influencing factors is the first critical step towards addressing the key dilemmas and questions.  It also becomes a basis to provide solid foundation to build a successful consumer mobile strategy and close mobile commerce loop. Finally, it provides a case for Retailers to embark and accelerate with their mobile journey.

  1. Key Trends indicating mobile is here to stay and not just another bubble
    • Mobile Shopping and commerce: 2012 is the year which really highlights Mobile Commerce in action as several retailers have started leveraging mobile commerce to engage consumers and it clearly indicates gaining the momentum. Per Juniper research mobile commerce transaction by 2015 is estimated to touch $170 billion.
    • Consumer shopping behavior: As use of smartphones and mobile service subscription is increasing so is the usage of mobile phone to drive shopping. Some key trends reported by analyst,
      • According to Ericsson (Mobility report – Nov 2012). In 2018 almost all handsets in Western Europe (WE) and North America (NA) will be smartphones, compared with only around one third of handsets for Middle East and Africa (MEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC). Data traffic doubled between Q3 2011 and Q3 2012
      • According to Comscore (2012 Mobile outlook report) – More than 50% of US smartphone users turned to mobile phones to perform shopping activities while in sto
  2. Drive brand loyalty and revenue

Mobile with targeted marketing offers a solid ROI toward brand marketing and sales. Over 60% of best in class companies (already using mobile marketing) aren’t yet using customer behavior info to target and segment messaging throughout the mobile channel. Organizations that are doing this receive a 7x improvement in campaign click through (Source: Aberdeen Metric-Driven Mobile Marketing: Increase Marketing’s Revenue Contribution, August, 2011). Consumers are more likely to buy from retailers who have a good mobile app. A good mobile apps incorporates following simple features

    • Provides Value and convenience: examples
      • Saves time during shopping by assisting to find products in store, social research, product information and etc. on fingertips.
      • Provides easier and collaborative way to plan shopping with family
      • Eliminate need to carry coupon clippings
    • Provides Personalization & Relevance: Everyone loves personalized attention in real life, if this can be offered in the virtual/digital world it vastly enhances appeal and drives adoption and mitigates the threat posed by show-rooming phenomenon.
    • Boost the store experience – online retailers can’t compete there
      • About 60% of showrooming shoppers view smart associates (mobile-enabled store associates) to get better customer service, give me more information about products and options, and help pay and check out” — as a reason for being “more likely” or “much more likely” to prefer one retailer over another as they decide where to make their holiday purchases (source: IDC – Press Release Nov’14 2012)
      • 6 in 10 (56 percent) shoppers surveyed say they are more likely to purchase from a store retailer that has knowledgeable sales associates (source: Vibes_Mobile_Consumer_Report_2012).
    • Some examples of personalization features are
      • Provide best suited products, offers, promotions and coupons digitally based on shopper buying habits and preferences. Make it relevance based on location of mobile shopper.
      • Shopping assistant already knows you. Pull up my profile and have all information needed to understand my needs make product recommendations and has similar or more information for products, offers, coupons based on my personal needs.
      • Superior shopping experience: Several studies and our own shopper research shows that a well-designed and intuitive mobile applications which adds value, saves time and money for consumers helps drive loyalty, brand image and adoption. 

3.      Key building blocks for successful mobile first strategy.

Consumers have multiple choices where they shop. Also, in this day and age consumers are well informed or have tools and access to carry out research, self-educate them prior to shopping. This brings to an interesting question of how to attract consumers to retailers, drive loyalty, reduce engagement cost, drive personalization and gain wallet share. Many retailers have adopted simple path to adopt ecommerce shopping websites as mobile websites. This is no doubt fastest way to offer a mobile access and a relatively simple and good first step. This, however, needs to be supported with a holistic mobile strategy to effective engage, market and transact with mobile consumers.

Retail industry comprises of different sub-segments (e.g. Grocery, Super/Hyper Markets, Hardline, Fashion and Apparel, small retail chains and etc.). Each one has its own uniqueness, consumer segment, varying needs to meet consumer expectations, nature of business, brand marketing approach and etc. However, one common thread is the desire to leverage consumer mobile trends to drive revenue. Successful consumer mobile strategy is the one that takes into account following 4 strategy elements comprehensively:

    • Market to consumer: Build consumer awareness by providing personalization with relevance; examples of this is personalized product recommendations, personalized and relevant offers, coupons which are based on shopper in-store location, preferences and past shopping behavior.
    • Engage with consumer: Strengthen relationship, drive loyalty, brand image, by providing the consumers with tools for shopping research and planning. Examples of key capabilities here are smart shopping list, personalized product catalog, access to product information, social ratings, mobile loyalty and wallet features. This helps provide lasting shopping experience and helps drive purchase decisions.
    • Transact and self-service: Here key convenience offered by mobile commerce helps provide convenience to consumers. It provides ability to shop anywhere and anytime; out of store, in-store and with the smartphone device. Examples of key capabilities are mobile shopping, in-store product scan, shopping cart, POS integration, mobile payment, digital receipts, place order, store pick-up or home delivery, register products and etc.
    • Real time insights: It is critical for marketing organization to harness and get in real time data and feed of consumer behavior and insights to drive new programs and marketing program effectiveness to help drive sales.

These four strategy elements signify importance of closing the loop of mobile commerce to provide compelling and immersive shopping experience. It covers all aspects that assist consumer to reach the stage of what is also described as “Moment of truth” phenomenon with rich experience that assist in planning, shopping and post shopping. Lastly, not to forget that key stakeholder within the retail organization is the marketing department. The fourth strategy element is very crucial as mobile provides an ability to harness consumer data, analyze consumer insights and behavior in real time. For marketing and sales line of business, this is crucial to drive agile and innovative marketing programs, brand awareness campaign and etc., to achieve sales ROI.

4.     Enterprise mobile platform and benefits

Successful execution of consumer mobile commerce strategy hinges on having a unified enterprise mobile platform that helps mitigates risk of rapid technology & device platform evolution for the retailers. It provides an effective way to make mobile offering agile, mobile landscape change resilient and with Omni-channel presence. We believe that taking a mobile platform approach is a critical success factor in executing your mobile first strategy for consumers. The right mobile platform should be able to offer following key capabilities to effectively mitigate:

    • Rapid change and innovation: Platform should provide rich re-usable solutions and services (e.g. mpayment, mwallet, mshopping, etc.) for organizations to develop and deploy new consumer solutions as Lego blocks. This helps supports standardization and speed to market. Platform should be able to provide secure access to enterprise data with capabilities such as data encryption including on devices; incorporate fraud protection measures and compliant to major standards e.g. PCI compliant for secure payment. It should support high transaction volume (TPS: Transaction per seconds) and concurrency with users, especially during peak shopping season. It should be supported with tools & portals to provide marketing team to rapidly configure site content to meet seasonality offerings.
    • Coherence: Most retail customers have myriad of backend systems and multiple channel of interacting with the consumer. Mobile platform should provide an effective way to consolidate and seamlessly render data to mobile devices with ease and delivering an Omni channel experience. Here platform should support all major integration technology to support multiple backend integration, data consolidation capability with canonical mid-tier data storage. Mobile channel should complement other channels of interaction with the customers such as web channel, interaction channel, in store associates B2E mobile apps and etc. This allows a full Omni channel experience with common service architecture for mobile platform.
    • Agile, scalable and low cost: TCO is a major concern especially when one expects the consumer mobile web or mobile applications should work across all popular mobile devices. It is also imperative that a good enterprise mobile platform supports openness when it comes to providing access to third party UI development tools such as Phone gap, Sencha, Appcelerator and etc. Typically our experience with proprietary development tool kits is that it results in high TCO, minimizes agility to change and limits the reach to access hundreds of thousands of UI developers available in market place. All in all enterprise mobile platform should support develop once and deploy across device platforms leveraging emerging HTML5 UI technology for consumer mobile application.
    • High quality value add upgrade & rich UI library: Platform should provide rich UI libraries of services that provides access to new mobile capabilities such as augmented reality, Location based services including Indoor location services, scanning and etc.

Key benefits and value proposition of taking an enterprise platform approach :.

    • Develop once and deploy across devices leveraging open standard UI and tools.
    • Provides consistent security of privacy needs, and sensitive consumer data with fraud protection; secure way to expose backend enterprise data to consumer mobile devices and reusability of consumer services.
    • Omni channel experience with seamless integration to all other channels of interaction with consumers
    • Lower TCO with open architecture and leverage easily available development resources.
    • Provides re-usable/value add mobile services and open development tool kit to deliver immersive mobile applications for consumers.

SAP Enablers

  1. SAP Mobile Platform

SAP Mobile platform provides end to end capabilities to provide consumer mobile application and internal employee facing mobile application along with rich mobile commerce capabilities. These mobile offerings are used by our customers across all industry segments such as Banking, Telco, Consumer, Retail, Utilities and etc. SAP is also recognized as leader by most leading analyst. SAP is positioned as leader in Gartner’s magic quadrant.

Key Benefits:

    • Allows rapid innovation     
      • SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) Services Facilitate Business Focus
      • SAP Delivers Enhanced Feature/Functionality at Services Layer
      • White Label Mobile Applications for retailer
    • Omni Channel
      • Common services and reference srchitecture across Brands/Product Lines/Seasons
      • Multi-Channel services deliver consistency across difference channel of interactions such as web channel, in store sales associate, interaction center and mobile channel
      • Mobile platform approach provides predictable and consistent scalability
    • Low TCO
      • Streamline Delivery of mobile apps and mobile web capability Leveraging Platform
      • SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) services promote re-use with capabilities such as mobile wallet, payments, location based services and etc.
      • Deliver multiple application endpoints from eingle framework
    • Supports immersive use experience
      • Open platform facilitates collaboration with choice of SAP UI5, Native, Open Source and 3rd Party Development Tools
      • Re-usable mobile services and emerging technology advancement such as augmented reality, location based services, mobile payments, wallets and etc.
      • Enterprise Platform Services Drives Highest Levels of Scalability/Reliability

2.     Consumer Mobile services and applications for Retail Industry

    • Mobile Payment and Wallet.

3.     SAP Precision Retailing (Precision Marketing)

SAP Precision Retailing is the key engine to render personalized recommendations and offers to consumers in real time and speed during their mobile shopping. Example of some of the key capabilities in real time while consumer is using mobile phone during their shopping is as below.

    • Provide personalized and contextual offers
    • Provide personalized & contextual product recommendations
    • Provide personalized cross and upsell recommendations
    • Render digital shopper marketing and contents.

Conclusion and Key Take Away

  • Mobile commerce is not a bubble and here to stay. It will have to be an integral part of channel strategy for retailers, no more nice to have. (According to IBM – Mobile commerce would be 20% of online sales in 2012).
  • Online and In-store shopping experience lines are blurring.
  • Personalization and relevance will drive adoption and loyalty.
  • Key success factor for marketing and sales department will be to drive through well-defined mobile strategy that provides an immersive, ubiquitous and Omni Channel consumer mobile shopping experience (outside the store, in-store and on-device), closely tied with personalized and relevance driven marketing.
  • Mobile strategy build around enterprise consumer mobile platform will help drive agile mcommerce solution, Omni channel experience and lowers TCO.

By: Rakesh Gandhi, Director, Mobile Solution Management – Consumer

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