Mobile and Retail: Activating Relationships Between Consumers and Marketers

This year's National Retail Federation annual conference - the NRF 100th Annual Convention & Expo - Retail's BIG Show - celebrates 100 years of retail, its leaders and its technology that have shaped the space during the past centennial. M-commerce sales are exploding, more than doubling from $1.4 billion in 2009 to $3.4 billion in 2010 (that's a 143 percent growth). For mobile devices, it's no surprise we're seeing record growth - AT&T recently dropped the price of their iPhone 3GS to $49 and today's announcement of Verizon carrying the iPhone in February will only drive smartphone adoption. And according to projections from The Nielsen Company, there is no stopping the smartphone penetration of the U.S. mobile phone market, which is predicted to surpass feature phone penetration by the end of 2011.

As the mobile and m-commerce outburst continues to explode in 2011, now is the time for retailers to begin integrating mobile. To get started, it's actually fairly simple. Use this simple rule of three:

  1. Activate your traditional media. Include a call to action in the materials you're already distributing to customers such as receipts, flyers or any other printed materials. For example, you can print on your receipts "Text SAVE to 12345 and receive a 15-percent-off coupon for your next visit." By delivering content customers want, they'll turn to you as a trusted source of information, which will subsequently increase customer retention for your mobile database.
  2. Establish a rewards or loyalty program. Offering incentives builds relationships and creates a database of subscribers. You're giving consumers what they want (promotions), and you're getting what you want (increasing customers' purchase frequency). Because mobile devices are so personal, you can target new and niche audiences, thus expanding your overall customer database.
  3. Engage, engage, engage. This is a big one. Remember that you want to establish and connect with consumers through a dialogue. When customers want to talk, make sure you're there to listen. The beauty of mobile is that you can start, stop, and resume conversations at any point. Interact with your customers, and you'll see results.