Mother and daughter enjoying an online shopping experience

Retailers 'must embrace omni-retailing to compete'

The retail industry has to ‘do its homework’ before it can embrace near-field communication technology, audiences at Mobile World Congress have been warned.

According to GS-1’s head of mobile Ercan Kilic, speaking on a panel at this week’s ‘Retail Therapy: Enhancing shopping experience through mobile’ conference - as part of Mobile World Congress 2013, Barcelona - “Implementing near-field communication [NFC] is the last step in the mobile commerce journey for retailers”, a trend endorsed by market research company Nielsen which reported that only five per cent of consumers now use NFC technology across Europe.  

Fellow conference panellist David Gosen, European MD in digital, online, and Telecoms at Nielsen, explained that the retail industry is redefining the ‘path to purchase’, and retailers now need to adopt so-called ‘omni-methods’ to keep up in such a highly competitive sector. As is the case with telecommunications provider AT&T who announced at MWC its new service, AT&T Alerts.

This ‘location-based’ feature sends a free SMS to inform users about offers when near a store. It differs from a ‘typical’ app, as AT&T has reverted back to traditional SMS communication methods, which is available on all devices.

It offers an opt in or opt out feature which gives the consumer control, Danielle Lee, head of digital product strategy at AT&T, said: “To drive adoption in mobile experience, consumers want protection and the knowledge of knowing how things work, this is still an on-going process with NFC technology”.

AT&T’s Lee also stressed brands want to be perceived as being innovative by implementing cutting edge technology to mobile commerce. Another retail trend seen at MWC is the use of augmented reality, speaking at the ‘Retail Therapy’ conference, co-founder and CEO of augmented reality platform Blippar, Ambarish Mitra added that “retailers must keep applications simple” – there’s no evidence that average consumers will respond to more complex apps by buying more.

Blippar has worked with fashion store New Look, Wrigley’s (chewing gum), and more recently collaborated with pop singer Rihanna to promote her clothing line with high-street/online retail apparel brand River Island.

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