Monday, August 24, 2015

Mobile Commerce Strategies - Contextually Relevant Opportunities, Moments and Environments

In the early 1990s major retailers began investing in data analytics to better manage their stores and warehouses by analyzing individual store sales.  This insight gave them a perspective on the needs of the local market.

Retailers soon advanced in their use of analytics and added external factors for consideration and planning like demographics, weather, geography, local events and competitor's promotions and campaigns.

When customer loyalty programs tied to POS (point of sale) systems were implemented, retailers were able to start understanding individual customers through their transaction histories - at least what individuals bought from their stores.  The limitation, however, was this data was known and analyzed post-sales. There were no mechanisms in place to alert retailers to help customers during their path-to-purchase journeys.

Mobile computing technologies and wireless internet access introduced the age of mobile commerce. Mobile commerce enables retailers unprecedented capabilities to collect and analyze data from a wide array of sensors embedded in mobile devices.  The challenge then shifted from how to collect data, to how to get the user's permission and approval to collect and use data.  This is not always easy.

When asked in surveys, customers voice opposition to retailer's collecting data on them.  This, however, does not align with other survey results that show customers value a personalized digital experience.  You cannot personalize a digital experience based on data without data.  This dichotomy must be recognized by retailers and incorporated into their customer education plans and strategies.

Personalized digital experiences show respect and professionalism to customers.  Treating
individuals as if they belong to one homogeneous market is a recipe for failure.  It reflects an attitude that getting to know you is not worth the time or investment.  As more commerce moves from face-to-face interactions to mobile commerce, service and support can easily be lost in the bits and bytes. Retailers that try to offer mobile commerce without relevant personalization are short sighted and will ultimately fail.

Winners in mobile commerce will implement Code Halos (the data available about every person, object and organization) business strategies to find business meaning in data and to provide beautiful customer experiences.  They will also seek to triangulate three sources of data:
  1. Digital data from online and mobile activities
  2. Physical data from sensors and the IoT (internet of things, wearables, telematics, etc.)
  3. Customer loyalty and rewards programs data
Mobile commerce winners will seek contextually relevant opportunities, moments and environments (CROME) that can trigger personalized content at exactly the right time.  Alerting me to available food options in a city I left yesterday is not useful.  I need food options in the city I am in now. Context is time and location sensitive.

The competitive field in mobile commerce tomorrow will be around personalization, context and real-time operational tempos.  Can your legacy IT environment be upgraded to compete in the world of tomorrow?

Stay tuned for a major report I am writing on this subject to be published soon.

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
The Center for the Future of Work, Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.