It’s starting to look like brands and retailers are finally starting to understand the mobile device. It’s about time. Since the dawn of the smartphone, the world has predicted that mobile technology would change the retail landscape. Instead, there’s been very slow progress and an unfulfilled prediction.
But we’re turning a corner, and reports are starting to show that consumers are warming up to mobile commerce. It could be pushed along by the arrival of Google Wallet, Square, or the growing availability of NFC-enabled smartphones. It could also stem from consumers becoming more comfortable with shopping on a device, or an improved mobile shopping experience.
Regardless, the opportunity to sell to customers wherever and whenever is arriving. There will be a scramble to attract the mobile customer, but in the end, the battle will be fought to retain them through new kinds of loyalty programs.
But this won’t happen through the loyalty programs that are in place today. The typical plastic card points and rewards program we’re familiar with is undifferentiated and, more importantly, isn’t ready for the complex, real-time world of mobile commerce. Mobile commerce is about context and speed — two critical drivers worth getting into.
Context requires a platform that tracks a customer’s history with the brand, but also has the ability to understand the customer’s environment where a mobile device is being used. That context can include location, weather, and other factors that provide an indication of what it takes to both get a customer to raise their hand for loyalty and then buy. Add to that the need to know supply chain information, and loyalty becomes an opportunity to match brand supply and strategy to mobile consumer demand in the moments that count.
Speed requires a program to deliver contextual engagement in the heat of the moment, whether that is an offer, information, or anything else the customer expects. Keep in mind that customers using mobile devices aren’t likely to be sitting at a desk, but more likely to be on the go (using their device for short bursts) when a retailer has far less time to influence a potential buyer. Studies show that a mobile decision is made in half the time and loyalty platforms need to match that expectation.
Mobile commerce will explode for a couple simple reasons: It serves consumers and allows brands to influence buying decisions as close to the point of purchase as possible, or whenever they determine it to be the right time. This offers an undeniable advantage to any brand embracing the mobile commerce opportunity that lies before us. Winning that battle requires more than just mobile commerce technology: There remains an age-old need to acquire customers and keep them regardless of the latest trends…a whole new plan for loyalty. Are you ready?
This article first appeared on the Loyalty Lab blog and has been lightly edited.