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Mobility Benchmark, Surprising Results

Do you think mobility is NOT impacting your business?  Mobile devices are everywhere, and they’ve been turning retail upside down.  From showrooming to employee empowerment, it’s a game changer. But where is your mobile strategy, and does it have legs?  I’ve had the opportunity to both influence and observe what’s happening in the retail community, and the professionals at Retail Systems Research have just released their annual benchmark report.

Evolving Mobile Strategy

It’s good to know where your company stands versus recognized leaders.  As you know, SAP is leading in the mobile space, and many clients are making leaps forward with mobility. Here’s what I see happening:

  • Historically, some retailers had a CEO-banged-on-my-door strategy – mobility is limited to internal use by staff for email and maybe a portal, and it was inspired by the shiny new tablet landing on the big Kahuna’s desk, demanding email access for it.
  • Employee empowerment strategy – companies like The Home Depot using handhelds as a customer-service tool are seeing dividends.
  • Mobility as a selling tool – the Tommy Hilfiger Look Book is a beautifully executed example.
  • Mobilizing the web site.  More than just shrinking the screen, companies using hybris are building real mobile commerce.
  • Holistic mobile strategy, if it exists, is often all about the customer, and employees come a close second. Sephora sees both as a priority, and does this brilliantly, in my opinion. They’ve enabled a fantastic shopping experience. This kind of thinking is a great step forward for the industry, and can be emulated, but make it your own.

Now that the mobility is a way-of-life for some, the rest of the industry has to decide what to do, if anything.  My hope is that you are already on board with the idea, but it might be good to know what the pioneers have learned.

Reality Sets In

From the latest RSR benchmark data, we can see the leaders are again way out in front.  According to the report, over 40% of customers are shopping from home with mobile devices, and 56% of retailers recognize the need to “be there”. The report does a nice job drilling into what this means.

The question of how best to “be there” is complex; and a bit surprising.  The part I found fascinating were 41% are now saying cross-channel coordination is a challenge, and there was a pretty big gulf between recognizing these issues are important, versus having implemented a solution to address the issue.

Organizational and Technical inhibitors are being addressed, through wise investment. But there is a huge gulf between the leaders (winning retailers) and the rest of the pack.  In particular, investing to empower staff is seen as important, but if it truly was taken to heart, solutions (like SAP Afaria and Retail Store Operations Associate applications and competitive offerings) would be more widely rolled out.

Mobilize Your Team

There are several more surprises in store with this year’s benchmark. There were some shifts from 2012-2013, and I think the industry has come a fair way as shown in the new 2014 report. Clearly, eliminating financial, organizational, and technical barriers is a priority for many organizations. How does your team stack up?

See how the leaders measure up, with the RSR Mobile In Retail report here >

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