The retail RAMP conference in Chicago is where some of the most successful retailers in the world got together in April to network and hear about the latest in mobile strategy and mCommerce. If you are in the retail space and have the word “mobility” anywhere in your performance plan, you probably should have been there. Mobile coupons, customer loyalty programs, mobile app development, mobile app security, and device management were some of the topics discussed across the panels, and across the tables.
The conference attendees heard from Walmart, Disney, MTV, Sears, Pizza Hut, BestFit Mobile, CompuCom, and JetBlue amongst other key experts. Retailers and technology-heavy hitters who shared their experience and knowledge on how to leverage mobile for everything it’s got. Vital intel for large retailers, professional sports teams, and other well-known brands which are all in the process of sorting out their strategies in this fast-evolving space.
Mobile Drives ROI
As valuable as mobile is for bringing new shoppers into stores, retaining and rewarding loyal customers, and driving up average cart sizes, it is not immune from the requirement of the business to turn a positive return on investment. Much like the emerging webspace was in the late nineties, the groundswell for mobile in retail is immense and building. That, along with lots of promises and concerns.
Similarities in the Emergence of Web and Mobile
The same questions that were being raised regarding the web back in 1998 are now re-emerging with mobile. How do I know I am tapping the latest technology? What if it cannibalizes my existing channels? How do I get my salespeople to engage without feeling like they are being replaced? Who are the development firms that can help me?
The Mobile Wave is Different
The big difference today in mobile is that you have a significantly larger and more advanced user base than you had with the web at a similar point in its adoption by business. Today, you have mobile users demanding a more involved experience with the stores, teams, brands, and employers that they interact with on a regular basis. Today, we have the bandwidth to do more exciting things than we had in the pre-2K days of the web. Today, the hardware and software technology is advanced enough to allow better connections with both new and legacy systems.
Today…is a whole new ball game. Retailers and enterprises who wait as long to implement a mobile strategy as they did to embrace the web in the late 90′s, will find themselves in a world of hurt, fast.
Great Presentations at RAMP
One of the more dynamic and informative presentations at the show was given by Erik McMillan and Ed Anderson of BestFit Mobile and CompuCom, respectively. Together, the two companies are working to support their customer base with the latest offerings around mobility. Given the rapid evolution of technology in this mission-critical environment, it is no wonder that their presentation was delivered to a standing-room-only crowd. Erik McMillan, Bestfit Mobile’s President, and CEO surveyed the room to
find a pretty even split amongst IT and Marketing resources who have been tasked with their company’s mobile strategy. This is a shift from other technology innovations where you often see IT solely driving the initiative. Marketing has a different perspective which seems to be contributing to retailers who are pushing the envelope for what is possible. GEO fencing, customer loyalty programs, prepaid cards, and digital circulars are all being actively worked on instead of just talked about. The once-mighty newspaper media is now being directly threatened as mobile is proving itself as a much more effective, cost-efficient, and stickier means to cultivate existing customers and bring in lots of new ones.
Timing IS Everything
Retail RAMP seemed to have taken place this year at exactly the right time. The state of the technology and the heightened interest of the businesses to engage it seems to be deep in the process of coming together. As a result, you should expect to see a lot of large companies who attended the event in April to start lighting up their mobile strategy over the next 18 months.
Stay tuned and…hold on tight.