Brick-and-Mobile Retailers


Mobile has completely rewritten the retail rule book. That’s the central message of Retail Systems Research’s latest research, Mobile Retail Finds New Purpose Benchmark Report 2015. Due to the rapid adoption of smart phones, tablets, and online shopping, brick-and-mortar retailers are no longer in control. Now, they are wondering how they can get back in the game.

The good news that the Benchmark Report makes clear is that sometime in the past couple of years, retailers stopped fearing mobile and started thinking of ways to harness its power. Now, 55% of retailers agree that their way to get back into the game is to use mobile devices to drive shoppers into their stores.

Shoppers love their mobile devices. So, the best thing retailers can do is think creatively about how to leverage that relationship.

Updating POS Systems is a Priority

The Benchmark report revealed another significant awareness. Retailers are clear that their POS systems are antiquated. They are struggling with the prohibitive cost and hassle of replacing legacy POS systems. In addition to investing in new systems, they must also invest in a more robust Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Many retailers have decided to “sit and wait” with their current systems with the hopes of skipping current-generation systems in favor of a new, single-platform solution that ties together their physical and virtual commerce operations. Even though 52% of retailers believe that mobile POS is faster than traditional POS, they still see using credit-card enabled tablets as a poor long-term solution.

Business Challenges

Retailers know they need to leverage mobile more. While some are far more successful than others in meeting the mobile needs of their customers, everyone in the retail industry is fighting the same internal and external battles.

According to the Benchmark Report, these are the most significant business challenges that retailers face:

  • Consumers are using mobile as part of their shopping experience and retailers need to be there (69%)
  • Retailers are seeing significant online traffic from mobile sources and need to respond (43%)
  • Understanding and accommodating how different customer segments engage with retailers (43%)
  • Difficulty coordinating with other channels to create a seamless cross-channel experience (39%)
  • Consumers’ privacy concerns over how retailers collect or use data (33%)
  • Retailers don’t know what the customer perceives as valuable in a mobile offering (31%)

Business Opportunities

The overarching goal shared by all retailers is to return the store to relevance. Regardless of the retailer’s size, geographic location, clientele, or product, they see mobile as a way to understand shopper behavior, drive sales, and build loyalty.

The Benchmark Report lists these areas as the most significant opportunities resulting from the adoption of a mobile strategy:

  • Deeper customer engagement to build loyalty through mobile channels (65%)
  • Deeper customer engagement to drive sales through personalized offers (62%)
  • Deeper insights into shopper behavior through mobile site or app insights (55%)
  • Mobile “save the sale” or “endless aisle” at the shelf (35%)
  • Mobile in-store concierge to alleviate some of the sales burden from store staff (32%)
  • Identify innovative mobile use cases that no one else is doing yet (23%)

Assembling the Resources

Retailers understand the value that mobile has in driving customer engagement and in-store sales. Now, they must overcome a series of organizational inhibitors that make it difficult to implement a mobile strategy.

The Benchmark Report highlights the most significant organizational inhibitors:

  • Budgeting and ROI challenges (59%)
  • Not enough eCommerce/Mobile resources to manage all available opportunities (48%)
  • Difficulty getting IT resources for eCommerce/Mobile projects (34%)
  • Disconnect between Line of Business and tech on mobile capabilities (33%)
  • Stores don’t understand mobile, social, or cross-channel opportunities (33%)
  • No clear owner of the overall Mobile experience (27%)
  • Mobile technology changes too quickly for us to be able to make solid investments (27%)

Most of the highlighted organizational inhibitors involve financial or managerial matters. However, the overall success of the retail sector’s ability to leverage mobile is based on their willingness to build and maintain a solid Wi-Fi infrastructure.

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Mr. Fellah, is a Senior Analyst and founder of Maravedis with 20-year experience in the wireless industry. He authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G and technology trends in various industries including retail, restaurant and hospitality. He is regularly asked to speak at leading wireless and marketing events and to contribute to various influential portals and magazines such as RCR Wireless, 4G 360, Rethink Wireless, The Mobile Network, Telecom Reseller to name a few. He is a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) and Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS).


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