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Mobile Shopping: Emerging Trends

BY CSA STAFF

The use of mobile phones in retail is increasing dramatically, according to a survey released at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & Expo in New York City. The study, conducted by ForeSee Results and entitled “Explosion in Mobile Retail Provides Huge Opportunity for Retailers,” found that shoppers are using mobile phones to access websites and apps more than ever before. The results indicate that “any retailer who is not wholeheartedly embracing the mobile trend is leaving money on the table for competitors, “said Kevin Ertell, VP retail strategy, ForeSee Results.

In the study, 33% of all respondents indicated that they had accessed a retailer’s website using a mobile phone (compared with 24% in 2009) and an additional 26% indicate that they plan to use their mobile phone to visit a company’s website, mobile website, or mobile application in the future.

“In other words, more than half of all online shoppers are either already using or plan to use their phones for retail purpose,” Ertell said. “This finding indicates a huge opportunity for retailers with sophisticated, user-centric mobile sites and apps.”

Other key findings include:

Mobile purchase behavior is exploding. A total of 11% of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this holiday season, compared with only 2% at this time last year.

Shoppers use their phones for a variety of tasks. The majority of shoppers who used their phones did so to compare price information (56%). Shoppers also used their phones to compare different products (46%), to look up product specifications (35%), and to view product reviews (27%).

Shoppers use their phones to look at competitor websites. While in physical stores, more than two-thirds of mobile shoppers (69%) used their phones to visit the store’s own website, but nearly half (46%) also used their phones to access a competitor’s website.

Traditional websites satisfy shoppers more than mobile sites and apps. In general, shoppers rate their satisfaction with retail websites significantly higher (78 on the study’s 100-point scale) than their satisfaction with mobile experiences (apps and sites) (75).

Good experiences with mobile sites and apps have critical cross-channel impact. Shoppers who are highly satisfied with a mobile experience say they are 30% more likely to buy from that retailer online and 30% more likely to buy offline, as well as being far more likely to return to the main website, recommend it, and be loyal to the brand.

According to ForeSee’s Ertell, the impact of mobile customer satisfaction on a retailer’s multichannel business is clear.

“The data show that a satisfied shopper is far more likely to purchase (online and offline), remain loyal, and engage in positive word-of-mouth recommendations than is a dissatisfied mobile shopper,” he said.

The survey noted that applications and websites tailored to mobile shoppers are a must-have for retailers. As smart phone use increases, more customers will turn to the mobile channel to find price and product information before making a purchase.

Chart by ForeSee Results

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100th annual NRF Convention Opens in New York City

BY CSA STAFF

The National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & Expo kicked off at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Sunday, Jan. 9, with a lineup of power speakers and plenty of buzz. It is the 100th anniversary of annual event, which attracts retailers from around the world.

This year, the four-day NRF show featured more than 600 exhibiting companies, new retail technology pavilions, and presentations from a stellar line-up of top-tier retailers. Total attendance was estimated at more than 18,500, with representatives from 70 countries.

Terry Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Macy’s, and NRF chairman, officially welcomed conference attendees, urging them to get involved in NRF’s various efforts. He also made a point of noting that the retail and restaurant industries account for one in five jobs in America.

Mobile commerce, multichannel integration, business analytics and data security were among the most talked-about topics at this year’s show. Also, Facebook took a booth at the event, representing the increasingly important role that social media plays in the retail industry.

Sustainability was another hot topic at the show. In a presentation entitled “The Many Shades of Green,” Paco Underhill, founder and CEO, Envirosell, said that as true sustainable environment will be the result of a fundamental change in how we live. Sustainable business practices, and living a green life, is no longer a political or financial issue, according to Underhill. Rather, it is a moral one.

The 2012 NRF Annual Convention will be held January 15-18, 2012, also at the Javits Center.

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Tips for Operational Excellence

BY CSA STAFF

Ask retail operations executives what their priorities are, and the answer comes down to the two T’s: Talent and Technology.

At the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & Expo, experts discussed how they are positioning their companies to for the economic comeback and the efficiencies learned from the downturn.

Sharon Leite, executive VP stores for Pier 1 Imports, Fort Worth, Texas, said that in the downturn, Pier1 turned its focus to its associates and the resources they needed to do their jobs in order to prevent a negative impact on the chain’s customer service delivery.

“It all starts with the talent,” Leite said. “We had to continually make sure that our associates were really connecting with our customers.”

Other top operational tips presented by Leite, along with Ben Teicher, senior VP and CFO of the Ratner Cos., included:

To tune up your talent, narrow the expectation gap. “Put in place customer feedback mechanisms so that you can close the gap between what you and your associates think the customer expects from you, versus what the customers are really expecting,” said Leite.

Dive into your data. Both Leite and Teicher support traffic counters in stores, in order to provide enough information to drive conversion rates. “Combine internal feedback from stores with the external feedback from your customers to ensure that you’re delivering a service experience that is spot on,” said Teicher.

Add discipline to your supply chain, reducing the number of times product is touched before it reaches the selling floor.

If it doesn’t add value, eliminate it. “We streamlined what we asked our field personnel to do,” said Leite.

Build partnerships, both internally and externally.

Make sure you make the right hires. “Finding top talent became even more critical over the last three years,” said Teicher. Tools such as pre-employment screening solutions can serve to up the talent quotient.

Leverage the knowledge and capabilities of your internal IT staff.

And, above all, make sure your business process works, then layer on the technology tools to help drive costs down.

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