A blog post Kyoko Yanai (fab intern) and I did for the AGHA blog. http://blog.agha.com.au/2013/03/when-retail-met-mobile/
A collision of two great things leads to an exchange of energy; this is a basic law of physics. Currently in our world – two great things are already in collision. On one hand we have Retail, sitting amongst the world’s largest industries. On the other side, we have the Mobile revolution. This energy is what can be termed the “App & Mortar” economy.
A report done by Flurry on the shopping app category measures the time spent by consumers across more than 1,800 Smartphone shopping apps from December 2011 to December 2012. In the Shopping sub-categories, retailer apps have grown drastically by 525% from December 2011 to December 2012, completely surpassing the growth of both the total shopping app growth of 274%, and the overall app growth 132%.
Time spent in Price Comparison and Purchase Assistant apps have also grown significantly, by 247% and 228%, respectively – but not as much as the retailer apps! Finally, Online Marketplace and Daily Deals apps have grown at 178% and 126% respectively.
Though these figures stem from American companies, the statistics for Australian shoppers are almost the same in terms of how we use apps in shopping. If we had more shopping apps here, I am sure the growth in usage would be similar. For example, the chart below shows how similar the US and Australia are in terms of smartphone influence on information search and actions.
With the booming customer revolution marching into the retail industries, there is a huge window of opportunity for innovative retailers to enrich their customers’ shopping experiences. Integration of the physical and virtual is vital for survival beyond 2013.
What this entails is shifting the focus of marketing efforts to a mobile-first strategy. With today’s burgeoning mobility, customers and retailers are connected 24/7. Having a mobile presence is no longer an optional luxury – but a survival tool.
Retailers are standing on the edge of something extraordinary. Seize this opportunity to plunge ahead by thinking mobile-first.
By Natasha Rawlings and Kyoko Yanai, StreetHawk
StreetHawk has delivered the first Right-Place, Right-Time Platform that connects Brands, Bricks and Mortar retailers with SmartPhone Shoppers. StreetHawk gives BAM retail superior intelligence and tools to what eCommerce is using to attract online shopping. StreetHawk leverages the new intersection of 3G, smartphones and GPS to empower retailers to win back and keep customers.
Great interview with Melissa Widner of Heads over Heels/ SeaPoint Ventures, Wendy Simpson Chair of Springboard and myself about women in tech. Thanks Ben Hurley.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained: The networks that are finding the funding to grow women’s start-ups
Last year’s prominent Silicon Beach study of the Australian start-up ecosystem contained a revelation that few found surprising: only 4.3 per cent of Australian tech start-up companies are founded by women. That finding gives Australia’s tech entrepreneur scene a lower representation of women than male-dominated industries like mining, where about 14 per cent of managers are women.
Among the growing community of female entrepreneurs there were some reservations about the way the Silicon Beach report’s four male authors buried this finding right at the end, and explained it with the comment: “It appears that the concept of a start-up venture still has little appeal to Australian females.” Said one woman entrepreneur who didn’t want to be named: “I suspect they just don’t know where to find the women.”
That women aren’t interested is an easy conclusion to make by looking around the room at co-working spaces or angel investor pitching nights, where female participants are the minority, and female investors are even scarcer. It’s a state of affairs that frustrates Melissa Widner, an angel investor with the Sydney Angels network.
“I’m usually one of only a few women at the Sydney Angels meetings,” Widner says. “They have made a concerted effort to bring in more women investors so it’s not like it’s closed.”
Widner is co-founder and chairperson of the Heads Over Heels women’s business network. She says the reasons for the poor female turn-out are more complex than a lack of motivation. Women make up a third of all small-business owners and founded the majority of small businesses in Australia over the past five years, according to a 2012 Bankwest business trends report.
Heads Over Heels and others such as US-based incubator Springboard Enterprises are asking why, with so many women entrepreneurs, there are so few making it big.
“One of the reasons women aren’t growing companies at the same rate as men is they aren’t as strongly connected to funding sources and important strategic partners,” Widner says. “Men have stronger business networks than women do when it comes to funding and big business, which companies need a relationship with to get off the ground.”
Heads Over Heels is backed by a number of big names in business. Widner is a general partner at US-based venture capital firm SeaPoint Ventures and has led a number of successful US venture-backed technology companies. The Heads Over Heels advisory council includes public company heavyweight Diane Grady, OneVentures managing partner Michelle Deaker and Aussie Home Loans chief executive Stephen Porges.
It meets three times a year giving screened companies a chance to seek introductions with big corporations and business people around the world. The scene is vibrant and collegial.
“Head Over Heels membership is comprised of people we call uber-connectors – those who are passionate about entrepreneurship and want to see these statistics change,” Widner says. “They have great networks and are willing to share them selectively with our CEOs.”
Those to present include former investment banker Ghazaleh Lyari, whose cup-cake company Ghermez secured an order with a large entertainment company thanks to a Heads Over Heels introduction.
Three of four investors from a successful Sydney Angels funding pitch were Heads Over Heels members.
Another member, Pascale Helyar-Moray who founded customised jewellery business Style Rocks, received an introduction with a major retailer through the network.
Getting more women into the venture-backed start-up scene isn’t just about doing the right thing.
A Dow Jones VentureSource report, “Women at the Wheel”, last year found the likelihood of a venture-backed company succeeding increased with more female executives at the vice-president or director level.
Natasha Rawlings, co-founder and chief executive of tech start-up StreetHawk, says the lack of interest women seem to show towards coding means many businesses start with male foundations, and continue from there on a male-oriented trajectory, even when it comes time for investment companies to piece together a management team. This is despite women having unique skill sets to offer.
“I have two tech co-founders who are men and realised they needed balance on the team, but I don’t think that’s the norm,” Rawlings says.
She is a non-tech founder of the company, which helps retailers connect to nearby shoppers through their smartphones, and brings to the table her marketing experience.
“If you look at accountancy and law, 50 per cent or a bit more of the intake is women to those sorts of roles,” she says. “Almost all the marketers I’ve worked with have been women. You can think of almost anything except for coding and say there are women there in equal numbers.”
She also claims an expertise in shopping, and questions the ability of male investors to recognise an early-stage business that has the potential to have widespread appeal for women. This is a problem when women are the world’s biggest emerging market, dwarfing China and India, according to major corporations like PepsiCo and supporting research by the Boston Consulting Group.
“Who drives shopping? It is women,” Rawlings says. “We buy most of the household goods still and are responsible for where most of the discretionary income goes. But men don’t like shopping, and I’m thinking if you don’t relate to my business you’re not going to open up your wallet for it.”
Rawlings was one of eight Australian start-ups to go through the first Springboard Australia mentorship program. The US-based program has helped female-founded US companies raise more than $US5.8 billion of funding, and this is its first year in Australia. It will involve a six to eight-week program where an advisory council will help make the businesses investment ready, and refine the pitch to investors. This is important because Rawlings says she believes women are often less comfortable being confident and forthright about their achievements in interview situations.
Says Wendy Simpson, chair of Springboard Australia: “There’s a lot of talented women entrepreneurs that are outside that VC game, and we have to bring them into the game. We’ve got to say to women it’s possible to use other people’s money to build your business. One reason women aren’t getting the money is they’re not asking for it. And when they do ask for it, they’re not asking for enough. So we’ve got to say to them, add another zero.”
She says there is a growing number of successful business people with money who are disillusioned with fund managers after their experience during the financial crisis and who are thinking of ways to invest their money.
“If they made a few well-placed investments they could really accelerate all this,” Simpson says.
Tess Julian, creator of the Hargraves Innovator Recognition Program, says there is a narrow perception of innovation, with government assistance and investment funds geared towards the technology-based innovation which is more popular with men.
“Science and technology doesn’t traditionally attract that many women, which is probably why there aren’t particularly many women in that type of start-up,” Julian says. “But social innovation, marketing innovation, customer experience, branding, aged care, teaching, in those sorts of areas, you do have lots of entrepreneurs, and lots of them are women, but there aren’t the programs around to support that type of entrepreneurship to the same extent there are in technology.”
Another reason is simply the fear of stepping in front of a room full of men, and pitching an idea. But the reality is the few women who do pitch at Sydney Angels have a high success rate, Widner says.
When Rawlings fronted investors seeking money for Street Hawk, she didn’t feel the men treated her any differently. Quite the opposite, in fact. “Women are often harder to pitch to than men,” Rawlings says. “They ask the harder questions.”
I hadn’t realised online retailer had published an article I wrote back in November. Here it is:
You might not know it yet, but there is a war being waged by the online super-powers to own your local advertising spend. And it’s not big businesses they’re after – but the very large, long and lucrative tail of local (street) retail.
When I say local spend, I’m not referring to billboards or local newspapers. I’m talking about the ability for retailers to use new smartphone medias and technologies to attract new and existing customers in-store by advertising to them when they are ‘local’, and more importantly get shoppers buying. The new term for this is ‘location-based marketing’, and it runs the gamut from out-of-store advertising to in-store engagement using QR Codes and NFC (near-field communication).
But location-based marketing is more than just sending out spam messaging (shoppers are going to opt-out pretty quickly to that). It’s about giving retailers the ability to target the right shoppers, with the right message (at the right time and place – which only smartphones can do) and provide analytics to optimise every marketing dollar.
eBay is one of the titans flexing muscle in this space. PayPal is now 40% of their total business, and they are keen to own the transactions in the real world, not just online.
In the last two years PayPal has spent around $200 million on acquisitions like Milo, RedLaser and Where, and are now experimenting overseas with clever ways for retailers to make payments and loyalty in-store easy with mobiles and tablets. They want to build a suite of services that help retailers advertise, and then consummate the sale in-store, again and again.
The other titan is of course is Google. They know from search (and are trying their best to educate small retailers) that local is where the action is. 35% of all searches are local (DM News), and 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP/ comScore).
Google has now built out Google Wallet, which has an ‘Offers’ component, and of course they have their own apps like Google Shopper and Google+ Local (old Places) which allows for retailers to make offers available locally. This isn’t gaining the traction Google would like however – probably because shoppers still have to do a lot of work to find the companies and offers they’re interested in.
There’s some other interesting angles to consider with Google. With their vast suite of consumer offerings (from Google Reminders, Shopping List, Mail, Apps etc) and ability to crack algorithms, they have the ability to own a consumer path-to-purchase and then part of the transaction. Scary or liberating for shoppers depending on your views around privacy.
If you think our streets are going to succumb to these titans, think again. Traditional media companies aren’t going to let Google and eBay eat their lunch. The big media companies are watching the local space carefully, and are beginning to build teams and make their own investments in Local – and that’s Australia too. We’re in for a turf war a bit similar to the Gold Rush in the 1800s – Local is the next big thing in advertising.
And I haven’t even mentioned the finance companies who are also keen to move into the space. American Express are experimenting in the social-local space with Twitter and Facebook, and have recently given merchants the ability in the US to target cardholders with relevant offers based on their transaction history. On our own shores the Commonwealth Bank is introducing Albert and Leo, open platforms that will allow developers to build apps to help with loyalty, engagement and payment.
Of course, there’s a myriad of companies beginning to play in this space with all sorts of offerings to retailers – namely loyalty, in-store engagement and customer discovery.
At StreetHawk, we’re using our big-data credentials to give retailers the ability to target their own shoppers when they are around their stores with personalised, targeted offers. Along with analytics tools, we’re a total location-based marketing solution for retailers.
Those retailers who are using targeted SMS and email realise that there’s great potential in adding time and place to their customer selections and promotions. For example, a customer who likes buying shoes is around their store – and they can target that shopper directly with a relevant offer once they ‘trip’ a geofence.
As I mentioned, we aren’t interested in the ‘once size fits all’ approach to mobile communication. That is a scenario shoppers aren’t going to be interested in once they start receiving regular notifications from all their downloaded apps. If you have the Facebook app, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
It’s an exciting – and scary – future for retailers. Disruption – absolutely, devastation – only for some. Those who start experimenting now will have first-mover advantage.
Published by Internet Retailing, 13 February 2013.
I speak to retailers regularly, and a comment I hear fairly regularly from marketers with ‘older’ brands is that smartphone users ‘are not my customers’. I’m afraid ladies and gentleman, they are. And if you’re not careful other companies are going to court your customers away from you, even while they’re in your store! (We’ll be working on some of these campaigns soon!)
At last count, smartphone penetration in Australia was 59%, so by now that figure would be well over 60% and with our current rate of adoption we’ll be at 100% near the end of 2013. We know that 70% of Australian shoppers are using their mobiles in-store to compare prices and find out more product information, but how does that shake out for ‘young’ vs ‘old’?
The best source of deep information on these things at the moment is Google – have a squiz sometime, you can configure the stats in all sorts of ways to really get the mobile revolution:
What you’ll see is that if you’re under 50, smartphone adoption is isn’t too different between the 18 – 30s and the 30s to under 50s. That means an 18 year old is just a little more likely than a 49 year old to have a smartphone. If you’re over 50, then nearly 1/3 of mobiles are smartphones. And these stats aren’t going south any time soon, they’re jumping up every time there’s a new survey.
In terms of using smartphones in shopping, the same applies. An 18 year old is just a little more likely to take a smartphone to research products, or change their mind about an in-store or online purchase with their phone than a 49 year old. Over 50s aren’t that far behind – really. 18% of over 50s compared to 28% of 18 – 30 year olds take their phones out to research products. Most of that difference could be a statistical error.
When looking at actions taken after using a smartphone to look for local information (like calling or visiting a store or buying in a store or online), then all the stats are line ball across all age groups (except for calling a store where the over 50s win hands down).
Except for purchasing products via smartphones, the over 50s are pretty close to their younger counterparts when using apps or searching for products.
If you think you have time to spare on implementing a mobile strategy because you think your customers are too old to be using smartphones then you need to think again, quickly. A massive opportunity is about to pass you by, and you won’t even know what happened.
I thought I’d post a quick note on another milestone for StreetHawk.
This week our CEO Natasha was selected of just 8 companies for the Springboard program. Springboard has been running out of Washington DC for about 13 years as a mentoring organization and has some pretty impressive stats:
- 509 companies
- 83% of companies raised capital
- $5.6B in capital raised
- 10 IPOs
- $Bs of revenue
Springboard’s primary thesis is to select great organisations that are led by female entrepreneurs. In this inaugural aussie program, things kick off with a bootcamp and several networking sessions with local and US alumni and connectors. The program then provides ongoing mentoring “for life” and serves as a great connector into US investors and customer organizations. Here is an article in The Australian. (not sure why they think StreetHawk is a marketing company – sheesh!)
Its a great step for StreetHawk as we start to establish customers and partnerships in the US and already seeing action in Asia. So, if you read this and you are an ideal partner in the US or EU please drop us a line.
To learn more about Springboard check here.
Congratulations also to the 7 other great companies from this batch!:
- Single Serve
- Switch Automation
I am back on board now after having a great break with my hubby’s family from the UK. This blog was for the AGHA and published 17 January 2013…
Some interesting reports have come out in the recently. A new report by Ernst & Young found that the majority of Australian shoppers would rather make purchases in bricks-and-mortar stores than on the web. In fact 66% of shoppers preferred to visit stores over the internet, and sometimes 52% didn’t buy on line because they just didn’t want to wait for deliveries.
At the same time the Christmas Retailers’ Survey 2012 has been published which highlights how low on the priority list online is for most Aussie retailers. They expect on average to make just 2% of their overall sales online this Christmas season. The stunning (perhaps) statistic was that 73% of retailers foresee growth in their bricks-and-mortar business over the next year and 33% say it will be their highest driver of growth over the next year. Does this mean online seems has fallen further down the priority list?
These stats are not surprising when you talk to retailers around the traps. Online isn’t going to make the biggest difference to their business that they can see, however larger retailers are all talking ‘omni-channel’ which takes into account how channels work together to produce sales.
One thing I have seen change over the last year is retailers’ focus on mobile grow. At the beginning of 2012 it wasn’t on the radar for most retailers, however by the middle of the year many had put in small amounts of test budget into mobile for this financial year. Retailers are just beginning to understand what other industries already know: it has to be mobile first because that’s where the majority of us are spending our free media time now. It’s also because we have our mobile phones with us nearly 24 hours a day (or at least within 2m reach!).
The glorious thing about mobile is that it brings the online world to the real world together, which can be used for great effect for bricks-and-mortar retailers. Location-based marketing (which is marketing at a location using online smarts, so it could be a billboard that has facial recognition to what my business StreetHawk does – location-based smart phone notifications) is beginning to be used more widely as retailers adopt new medias through and technologies.
Some great examples of location-based marketing are McDonalds in the UK who recently extended late night opening hours. To reach mainly shift workers, their app contacted their customers around their stores in the late hours of the night to remind them they were open. Simple, but effective. During the campaign the app received 530,000 visits and McDonalds achieved £2 of sales for every £1 invested.
This next campaign was the most innovative I have seen, and it took place in Guatemala of all places. Meat Pack is a Guatemalan shoe store and it used mobile to pinch customers from other shops who buys some of the product they sell like Nike and Adidas.
Meat Pack created an add-on to its existing loyalty app called ‘Hijack’ that rewarded Meat Pack customers by giving them an innovative way to earn a discount.
Every time one of the ‘Sneakerheads’ entered competitor store the GPS function showed them a countdown timer and an offer for money off shoes.
The discount started at 99% off and reduced by 1% for every second that passed. The timer stopped when the user reached a Meat Pack store.
More than 600 shoppers were hijacked from the competitors within a week, with one of them getting 89% off his new trainers. Now that’s guerrilla marketing at its best.
Over time, more of these types of campaigns will become normal. Retailers need to think now about what they’re going to do to make sure shoppers aren’t ‘grabbed’ outside their stores and taken to competitors.
Of course there’s lots of things retailers can do while in-store too with mobiles, but that’s for another post.
The Meat Pack campaign is quite sophisticated, but on a basic level at least make sure your store is seen in local search – make sure you are registered in Google Places and you can also set up Google Adwords campaigns for specific streets too.
Mobile isn’t the future, it’s now and it is something that benefits bricks-and-mortar sales directly. Make sure you get across what’s going on, and how you and your inventory can be found by shoppers on their phones.
This is a post I just completed for Digital Cafe about how we’re, well, not going to have a very merry mobile Christmas this year despite consumers enthusiasm for mobile shopping. The article points to why…
It was also picked up by Internet Retailing and Anthill. Thanks guys!
According to eBay, Australia is one of the fastest growing markets for smartphones use in shopping. Not only are they looking to achieve $5.6 million in Oz sales for eBay and PayPal via mobiles, but their research shows that smartphones are heavily in use on a shoppers path to purchase.
Some of the key facts from their recent report (Nov ‘12) ‘Secure Insight: Customer Discovery’ – 47% of us are using smartphones to locate product information in advance of making purchases and 25% of us are using tablets for accessing the same kinds of information.
Aussies are actually making purchases via their mobiles every 2 seconds – not bad for a country just shy of 23 million people.
But as PayPal’s VP in Oz Jeff Clementz points out, ‘discovery is a two-way street between retailers and consumers, and when the former makes an effort to understand the latter, the benefits are exponential.’
And this brings me to the mobile picture of Christmas in Australia, 2012. The last couple of years have been earmarked as being ‘the year of mobile’. I think we all realise that that is perhaps a few years away. And I think we all know why too – it’s not consumer adoption that’s holding back the tide of mobile, it’s retailer’s lack of adoption– and just new technologies – that’s crippled it.
I don’t have to remind you about Experian’s latest report “Retail in Australia: It’s Time to Embrace the Digital Future” – 53% of retailers in Australia don’t have an online sales channel, despite 2/3 admitting that international online retailers have affected their business. 1/3 of the 30 top retail websites used by Australians are based outside of Australia. We’re also spending more on overseas retailers than local ones – more than 50% of online revenues go offshore.
In Australia, the lack of adoption of mobile by local retailers in hampered by a couple of things. One is that they are still catching up with online. If they’re doing that, they’re also very busy building new platforms to support an omni-commerce play. No small feat but as most retailers will openly admit, they move at a glacial pace.
That means that the order of importance for digital development is platforms, followed by online and then mobile. They don’t hear the chant ‘mobile first’ that is sprouted elsewhere in the world. Guess what – consumers are mobile, not tech and with 94%+ of sales still from bricks-and-mortar stores, there’s no escaping that mobile is the future of retail.
Now I’m afraid I am going to have to go to some US market stats to paint a picture of what mobile’s place in retail sales is this year – but as I have pointed out often in my blog and elsewhere, our shopping behaviour is pretty much on par with the US and UK (other than QR codes where only 60% of us know what they are – but let’s face it, we’re not seeing rapid consumer adoption elsewhere in the world anyway).
First of all, there’s no doubt that mobile commerce is going up. It’s expected to account for 20% of US online sales in 2012, according to IBM. PriceGrabber’s data reveals that 16% of consumers are planning to shop from a mobile device this Christmas season, compared to 13% last year and 9% in 2010.
Why shop on mobile this Christmas? Well, it’s similar to online. 76% of consumers because they don’t want to fight the crowds in bricks-and-mortar stores; 75% said they enjoy the convenience of shopping around the clock and 72% said they like the simplicity of price comparison shopping via mobile.
In-store shoppers will use mobile devices to compare prices, look up product reviews and potentially online from inside the bricks-and-mortar stores.
For in-store mobiles use is still focused on price comparison – 74% of shoppers will use mobile for this purpose (PriceGrabber). 54% plan to view retailer emails with coupons or discounts while shopping in stores.
And mobile shopping app useage is only on the increase. 31% of PriceGrabber’s survey respondents indicating they already have shopping apps on their smartphone, and 82% said they plan to use shopping-related apps to save money this Christmas season. 32% said they are planning to download more shopping-related apps this year.
A big trend in the US – and one that StreetHawk is pioneering here, is geo-campaigns. Working well with other media, it allows retailers to target shoppers with offers via phone notifications while they are around stores. It means the retailer has to have their own app – all the better for mobile buying and the ability to integrate into in-store promotions via barcodes and loyalty programs.
In the US marketing media much is made of pushing SMS in a geo-location context. Unfortunately that is not possible in Australia, and even in the US doing SMS based on customer information and location is pretty hard.
StreetHawk has developed a retail and brand solution which enables retailers to use the information they have shoppers to target them with personalised and relevant messages while they are around stores. The sole purpose of this is to create footfall (or foot traffic) which is still a retailer’s lifeblood.
If you compare phone notifications to its ‘sister media’ text (more like identical twin on smartphones…), the stats are impressive. The open rate for texts is 98% – compared to 22% for emails. The average number of emails a customer receives a month is 1,216. The average number of texts? 178.
However, despite the fact that research shows that SMS can produce engagement rates of up to 8x higher than retailers normally achieve via email marketing, many retailers are still merely dabbling in SMS. If they tried our smart phone notifications (like ‘you bought a pair of pants from our New collection, why not come into store and try our blouses…) imagine how much higher the engagement rate would be.
Early next year we hope to have some case studies in market for what personalised notifications can do for in-store sales, until then, for those that love their smartphone as much as me, have a very happy, mobile Christmas.
This is a blog post I did for the Australian Gifts & Homewares Association, November 2012. One of the top stories on paper.li !
Smartphones: helping bricks-and-mortar retailers grow sales
I don’t think I have to tell you that smartphones have changed the way shoppers shop. And it’s not a passing trend – 70% of Australian shoppers now use their smartphones in-store, and smartphones are growing at about 500,000 handsets a month. At this rate we will have 100% penetration in 2013. Smartphones are not for ‘youngin’s’ anymore – they’re used by everybody.
I speak to retailers daily, and they are coming to realise that if they want to stay ahead of the competition – and well, just stay – they need to embrace web3.0 – mobile.
If you have seen these Australian figures, move on. But for those who haven’t, prepare to have your eyes opened.
- 72% of Australian shoppers are using their mobile phones, in-store, right now with:
- 50% to compare prices
- 42% to read product reviews and attain extra product information
- 19% to access QR codes, with another 31% interested in doing so
- 26% have bought a product using an app
- 26% use shopping apps, with another 11% interested in doing so
It seems that if you use a shopping apps, you use LOVE THEM. 68% access shopping apps at least once a week, with 27% accessing them at least once a day!
If you think this sounds the death knell for bricks-and-mortar retail however, think again. Over a quarter of shoppers research online and via mobile and then buy offline (I suggest this is higher for some categories like fashion where a UK report put it at 50%).
We hear a lot about ‘multi channel’ and ‘omni-channel’ marketing (the idea there is consistency and sameness across channels so that shoppers experience a brand and not a ‘channel’), but I think it’s better to think about ‘multi-option’ retail which gives shoppers choice about where they want to shop. Multi-option takes into account that some shoppers just want to buy in-store, some online, and the majority fall in the middle by using online and offline shopping and research on their path to purchase.
When mobiles morphed to smartphones a few years ago, some early adopting retailers treated mobile in the same way as their online site (it’s computer in your pocket after all.) But with the introduction of new technologies, especially location-based services (where your mobile senses where you are) and Near Field Communication (the same technology which is used in your chip and pin credit cards), plus mobiles ability to scan barcodes and have instant access to social networks, retailers have realised that mobiles have a unique part to play in the bricks-and-mortar experience.
Big US players like Walmart have realised that using online smarts in the real-world (via QR codes, barcode scanning, loyalty apps and more), they have the advantage over their pure-play rivals like Amazon. They now use mobile to make more of a shopper’s in-store experience and increase the average shopping basket.
I also haven’t covered search – Google knows that a person’s location is where all the action is. 35% of all searches are local and 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase.
If you’re a retailer, what do you do to make sure you’re not left out? I know it’s confusing, but you need to answer this question:
* How important is discovery to you? Is it more important than getting more business from your current customers (I’ll call this ‘optimisation’)?
Of course, it depends on where you are at in you product lifecycle (if you’re launching, it’s all about discovery). I find that most mature retailers I speak to have 60 – 80% of their business come from their current customers. That means that getting more from their current customers will have a bigger impact on their business. More than that, cost per sale from your current customers is always cheaper than getting sales from new customers – so it’s best for your bottom line. You need a balance, but I know where I would start!
First of all, whether you are interested in discovery or optimisation, all shops should just be listed on Google Places (so your shop and it’s details appears on Google Search). If a shopper is looking for you, Search is what they’ll use first. Google Places enables you to add your street address and touch-to-call phone number. And it’s FREE. Got to google.com/places to register your business.
If discovery is important to you, then make sure you are listed on Google Places. Having an m-site is also helpful (esp, for product local search if you think shoppers are looking for specific items on their phone, when they’re out and about), but there are some downsides too. At the moment, agencies in Australia are charging quite a lot for them, and for the most part the user experience is not great because of mobile speed. Try some and see (Harvey Norman has just launched an m-site). However, although expensive, you only have to build one to cover all mobile devices – iOS, Android, Tablet etc.
There are aggregated solutions in this market too that you can access on your mobile phone like Get Price and Lasoo. For fashion retailers, try ShopStyle. There’s an emerging amount of consumer aggregated shopping apps appearing, and why not give them a try? It’s often not too expensive and you’re supporting Australian start-ups (a passion of mine!).
If you want your customers to be able to see what you are selling, and have all your latest news at their finger tips on the go, then the only way to go is apps. That brings me to my second option:
If you want to give your shoppers a personalised and great user experience (so they will come back to your mobile ‘site’ time and time again), plus take advantage of the ‘native’ features of the phone (camera for scanning barcodes and QR codes, location, push notifications (alerts) and digital wallets for easy buying etc), then apps are the only way to go. They can also act as loyalty cards too.
Now, they can also be quite expensive, and multiple apps need to be built for iOS, Android and tablets, but in Australia, with about 60% of users (especially women) having iPhones – it is a good place to start.
Finally, there’s also SMS and Push notifications to shoppers phones. Push can only be done if your customers have a mobile app, and SMS if you have their mobile phone. Some retailers have told me they see a spike in in-store days for 3 days after sending an SMS.
Of course SMS and push-notifications are highly invasive. If you don’t want customers to opt-out of your messages or delete your app, make sure you send personal and relevant messages. This means you have to use data to target messages, or use them very sparingly. People will not put up with spam on mobile for long – it’s as bad as getting unwelcome telemarketing calls.
It’s an exciting – and scary – future for retailers. Disruption – absolutely, devastation – only for some. Those who start experimenting now will have first-mover advantage.
At StreetHawk we’re super-excited to be giving bricks-and-mortar retailers a tool to drive footfall and mobile sales. In a nutshell, we build very affordable white-label apps, and if you want, plug in our ‘RRR Matching Engine’ technology which enables retailers to send personalised and relevant messages to customers when they’re around stores. Vist our website: http://streethawk.com or call me on 0431 317937 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more.
It’s been a massive week, and I thought I’d do a personal post on what it was like to win 3 prizes at Tech23. I don’t usually do personal blogs – I honestly don’t think the inner working of my mind are that interesting. But this time – as really a note to self – I thought I would so at the very least I am reminded about how exhausting and time consuming the whole process is.
Firstly, I spent A LONG time preparing. I think any major talk/ presentation you do is probably going to take around about a week of your time. Even thought this was a 5 minute presentation, speaking unaided means you have to memorise it (if you want to get the main points in – which are crucial). The prep takes easily as long as a 45 minute presentation so don’t think less time equals less prep time, the opposite is true.
The second thing is that it was really important to get feedback from my peers, industry heavy weights, the Tech23 Team, my husband and my 3 year old. I had the chance to pitch 6 times to the first three groups in two sessions organised by the awesome Rachael Slattery. It meant that I cut out heaps of market landscape stuff and focused on how I could explain what StreetHawk does so that my mum and dad could (even) understand it. I saw a lot of other Tech23 companies benefit from this too. Their pitches were filled with tech acronyms and frankly stuff I will never understand. They totally simplified it for the day so that everyone in the audience could understand them. They did a brilliant job.
My husband also helped me cut out the jargon and my self-styled short-cut language. My 3 year old just got bored if I didn’t seem enthusiastic enough. At the end of sitting through another 5 minute practice, he said – ‘Mummy, does this mean StreetHawk sends me messages, me?’ and I said yes. He said ‘That’s great’ and I knew I was winning the understandability stakes.
Another thing I learned is that you really have no idea how adrenaline will affect you on the day. All you can do is rely on the practice you have done. What I found strange was just how much I had pumping through my system. I have spoken a lot before in front of small and large audiences, from students to big, scary investment types and have never been that worried by it. I don’t know why this was different except that perhaps this pitch was to peers.I also think that if you’re a bit ‘sensitive’ like me, the stress being leaked out by others in such a concentrated way is something you can’t avoid.
On the day there were plenty of very nervous CEOs, some who have raised millions of dollars, or have been at this game a long time. Again, I put it down to presenting in front of peers. And I don’t know why, as founders are probably the most supportive of each other. VCs can rip your throat out being ‘cruel to be kind’ but maybe we don’t care so much about them!
Finally, I got a lot of ‘great pitch’ from people I thought were just being kind. Turns out, that even though I forgot a lot of what I was going to say, I did do a good job (thanks to preparation). I was really surprised to get anything, let alone three awards.
So really, if you’re going to take any learnings from my Tech23 experience, it’s to prepare, and be prepared for anything on the day. I will probably add a few links to this blog including video pitches from my favourites including Script Rock, Mike Baukes just added some real magic (again prep – know your audience and it helps to have done the same pitch at least 10 live times!).
Getprice have released their 2012 Shopping Report (September 2012). Hooray – there’s more stats on mobile shopping for the Aussie market! Of course this data is not representative of all Australian shoppers (just the 3 million shoppers who use Getprice every month), but it is pretty indicative perhaps of what keen online shoppers are doing.
I’m about to do a blogpost on apps are for customers, mobile sites are for discovery. When you read the stats below, you realise you really can’t be out of the app store if you’re a retailer expecting your customers to come back time and again on a mobile device. Mobile sites are really just too slow and cumbersome for shoppers – they disengage pretty quickly when page downloads take more than a couple of seconds.
You can download the report here .
The most important results:
* Online shopping is the 3rd most popular activity on a mobile PHONE, trumping search engines and only behind reading and social-networking (I didn’t think it would be that high… but that’s great!).
* 83% of Australians use apps on their mobile devices
* 68% use their mobile device to access shopping apps at least once a week, with 27% accessing at least once a day!
* When shoppers are using shopping apps, 78% are browsing a product, 71% are comparing prices and 65% are accessing product reviews. 57% are BUYING PEOPLE, and 41% ave booked a hotel or restaurant.
* Online spending is on the increase, while monthly spending offline has not changed from 2011.
* 87% had bought online from an overseas retailer. 75% because of better prices, but 51% said they couldn’t find the products in Australia and 37% were looking for a wider range.
* Aussie online vs. offline shopping experiences: range of products and price, deals or discounts riles for online, but offline better for customer service.
* Over a quarter research online, buy offline (suggest this is higher for some categories like fashion where a UK report put it at 50%).
* Reasons for buying in bricks-and-mortar shops: 73% want to see the product before they buy it, 62% want the produce immediately and 49% don’t want to pay for postage.
What a shame more Aussie media owners don’t engage in more research around their (potential) mobile audience. I guess they’re still working out whether they need to be there. Guess what guys, YOU DO!