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What Does It Mean to Be a Mobile Merchant?

28 Apr 2016 by Jessica Hall

Today’s consumers are demanding more from brands than ever before. They want personalized products, services and great experiences in real time – no matter the time of day, their physical location, or what device that they’re using. In a recent post, we explored how retailers embraced “Merry Mobility” for the 2015 holiday season, knowing that mobile has truly become the “first screen” for shopping decisions.

With this in mind, mobility — including the associated Digital Customer Experience (DCX) — represent a big opportunity for brands and retailers to exceed customer expectations for both products and services. In this new world, the imperative is to provide a truly individual experience from end to end, and the maturation of this concept is evidenced by thought leaders like Brian Solis, who now posit that winning “hearts and minds” will become a competitive differentiator for moving forward.

So, no matter the product, channel or touch point, business and IT groups need to collaborate to drive the mobile and online customer experience. Branding and marketing teams must provide the right content at the right time, while IT provides the technical infrastructure that customers need, wherever they may be on their shopping journey or in the buying cycle.

Reshaping retail mobility

The impact of mobility is no longer limited to the devices. It now also affects the wider computing infrastructure. Critical considerations for reshaping retail business with mobility in mind include security, manageability and productivity.

“Together, our predictions suppler the concept that mobility is becoming more invisible as it pushes its challenges into every traditional area of IT, forcing those areas to become more robust. It is important that IT continually use mobility as the ultimate test of the viability and completeness of all strategies that become part of any IT or vendor’s overall plans,” according to Gartner’s “Predicts 2016: Mobile and Wireless” report, published Oct. 13, 2015.

Going mobile in the retail environment

What are some practical considerations for making the journey to becoming a “mobile merchant” and moving your enterprise to the next phase? Let’s explore a couple of key perspectives and ways forward, as recommended by firms with deep expertise in making it happen:

Enterprise mobility is about a fundamental change in the way you do business, according to computing leader HP. While many companies are struggling to successfully integrate mobility into their organizations, mobility is the new interaction model that gives enterprises the opportunity to dramatically change customer and employee interactions for the better. Underlying the transformation is technology, but HP emphasizes that leveraging mobility is a business-driven change that can be hard to quantify and budget from an IT perspective. As a result, close attention must be paid to quantifying ROI in order to obtain IT resources for mobility initiatives.

Mobility impacts four key areas for retailers, according to Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), focusing on mobile marketing, shopper services, mobile payments and store operations is key to ROI. Success comes from defining your unique, brand-relevant mobile proposition, and developing solutions specifically for your customers’ “mobile moments.” It is also important to involve all relevant business functions in the mobile transformation, while actively soliciting feedback from stakeholders and implementing continuous improvement processes.

By carefully examining business and IT needs, your organization can develop a comprehensive plan to truly become a mobile merchant that meets and exceeds ROI goals. If you’re eager to get your business on this path to becoming a mobile merchant, or you’d like to explore the issues around making the transformation, we encourage you to download the Gartner report, “Predicts 2016: Mobile and Wireless,” we’re offering complementary through July.