By Carsten Thoma, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile is not just another customer communications channel; it is rapidly evolving into an effective commerce channel. Strengthening the link between existing channels such as physical and online stores, mobile now enables customers to start shopping using their mobile devices and finish the process online, via a contact center, in the brick-and-mortar store, or even on the mobile device itself.
But customers are not just using their phones to purchase; they are looking for information across the entire buying cycle, including searching for products, locating stores, checking order status or product availability, getting product overviews and photos, reading customer reviews and product specifications, and arranging for in-store pick-up. Mobile devices enable customers to get information whenever and wherever they want. To meet these needs and help drive cross-channel commerce initiatives, retailers need to be able to communicate bi-directionally with customers and prospects effectively via the mobile medium. One of the ways to do that is by generating and enabling mobile barcode functionality.
A newer concept here in the United States, mobile barcode technology, used extensively in Asia and gaining traction in Europe, presents significant potential benefits to retailers. With this functionality, retailers can enable consumers to use their smartphones almost as a kind of scanner -- but one that does much more than simply show the price of a product. Most consumers, however, may not be aware of this capability. Many of the newer phones, including the newest model iPhone, BlackBerry and Android, for example, can deliver this functionality. However, it requires an education on the customer side for this functionality to be fully maximized.
So what can your customers -- and you as a retailer -- do with this functionality?
To put this into context, consider the products on your store shelves. There is typically