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There’s a problem with the mobile retailing that brick-and-mortar stores are doing today. It doesn’t think big enough.

Most retailers get started in mobile by optimizing their online websites for mobile devices. Others develop a mobile app. In both cases, they’re simply mobilizing the e-commerce channel. This is Mobile Retailing 1.0.

What these retailers aren’t doing is enhancing the many advantages they have over their online competitors: showrooms, employees, inventory and distribution networks. What brick-and-mortar retailers need are mobile apps that are designed to improve the in-store experience. This could be Mobile Retailing 2.0.

The aim of Mobile Retailing 2.0 is to leverage mobile and enable personalized shopping experiences that build customer loyalty and drive relevant content to customers at the point of decision.

Mobile retailing has the potential to personalize shopping experiences in-store in the same way Amazon does with its recommendation engine based on past purchases. It could incorporate coupons and loyalty programs, instead of relying on plastic cards or pieces of paper. And it could also speed things up where consumers are used to waiting in lines to check out.

For example, let’s go grocery shopping with Jane. When she walks in the door, her mobile reminds her to launch the store app. She gets 100 loyalty points and a few personalized offers based on things she’s bought in the past. She reviews them and adds some items to her shopping list.

As she walks through the store, she taps each item on her list with her phone before adding it to her cart, which builds her electronic checkout list. Occasionally, the app reminds Jane about things she needs, or lets her know if there are special deals on related items.

When Jane gets near the wine section, an employee greets her by name 
and asks her how she enjoyed the bottle he recommended the previous week. He notes her comments on his mobile device and suggests a couple of other options. Jane adds one of his suggestions to her cart.

When she’s finished shopping, she simply pays with her mobile on the way out the door. All of her coupons, loyalty cards and credit cards are stored in her mobile wallet. She chooses to pay with a store gift card, which is convenient and earns her extra loyalty points when she uses it. She receives a digital receipt that is automatically uploaded to her personal finance software for budgeting and tracking. Jane heads to her car without ever going through a checkout line.

By adding digital commerce to the physical store through a mobile device, retailers can deliver a highly personalized in-store shopping experience, improving  loyalty, increasing sales and competing with online retailers. Reaching customers at the point of decision will enable brick-and-mortar retailers to maximize their advantages in the physical world to compete with e-tailers and other competitors. Read more about mobile retailing in the free SAP Mobile Commerce Guide.

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