Wipro’s Mobile Customer Experience Helps Retailers Use this New Channel to Increase Sales and Customer Satisfaction| Article
Wipro Trend Setter
Today people use mobile phones for much more than just phone calls. Nielsenwire estimates that by end of 2011 the sale of smartphones will overtake the sale of regular phones. Further, smartphones are increasing in sophistication, creating a new channel of opportunity for retailers.
Today, the question is no longer whether to have a mobile presence. Instead, “it has become mandatory for brands to ensure they meet their customers’ needs now or face the risk of losing their customer base!” says Vikas Chatpar, an Architect with Wipro’s Industry Solutions and Technology Group in the Retail, CPG, Transportation, and Government business.
Chatpar says the mobile phone experience benefits retailers in many ways. They include:
- Provide more information so customers can make informed decisions
- Increase cross-selling and up-selling
- Improve customer satisfaction, which can increase sales
- Improve business efficiencies that drive profitability
- Get more customers into the store
- Increase repeat sales
In 2010 a large number of customers are using mobile technologies to purchase items from retail stores, so it’s no surprise that retailers are launching a mobile presence to assist in their customers’ purchasing decisions. “As the mobile channels evolve, the key lies in meeting the customers’ needs, which also have been maturing over the past few years. Customers now expect their major brands to have a mobile presence and be accessible to them across time and places,” says the Wipro architect.
To meet this expectation, he believes retailers that want to be successful today “have to focus more on the customers’ behavior. They must tap into all the channels and mediums they use for making purchase decisions,” he says.
That certainly includes mobile marketing. He says the possibilities include:
- Enchancing the store experience with tools like bar code readers and information like product reviews
- Creating loyalty programs with special offers or points
- Increasing store traffic with things like store locators
- Offering promotions using coupons and discount offers
- Supporting mobile commerce so customers can place their orders over the phone
Shoppers have already started using their phones to locate retail stores and look up product and pricing information. Research by a mobile marketing agency Sponge revealed 70 percent of online retailers use a mobile platform to communicate with their customers. Forty percent of those polled already have an information-led mobile Internet site or are considering building one.
Where some retailers like Amazon.com and Sears have sophisticated mobile commerce platforms, other top retailers are just maintaining a mobile presence to avoid being left behind in this mobile phenomenon, Chatpar notes.
He says to date the focus on a mobile presence has allowed customers to browse product catalogs, research products, view weekly ads, or find a retail store close to them.
Besides launching a mobile presence, Chatpar says he is seeing a plethora of innovative ways retailers are attempting to engage the customer. He cites these examples:
- Amazon has an iPhone app that allows customers to take a photo of the product. It then adds it to the customer’s wish list on its Web site.
- Gap has an application called Merry Mix that lets its customers mix and match clothing.
- Target has an application called Gift Globe that provides a fun way for customers to find gifts. Enter the recipient’s details, shake the iPhone like a snow globe, and it reveals a gift the customer can save and buy later.
- Barnes and Noble has an application that allows users to submit a front cover photo using their phone to then receive product details, reviews, and ratings about the book. It even allows them to reserve a copy at the nearest store.
However, Chatpar points out retailers face six challenges:
- Complement vs. detriment: Retailers need to ensure their mobile phone strategy complements their business instead of becoming a detriment to their existing offerings.
- Price arbitrage: Customers carrying mobile devices need to have easy and anytime access to product pricing. This could go against the retailer if its customers have competitors’ prices handy with them anytime, anywhere.
- Content: Retailers must present the right content to customers. This includes making decisions on language, structure, and other parameters.
- Security: Retailers must overcome customer fears and concerns around mobile commerce security.
- Spam. Retailers must ensure that mobile marketing does not get filtered out as spam.
- Compatibility across different mobile devices. Retailers must make sure their advertisements are compatible on various handheld devices.
Wipro’s approach: the mobile customer experience management framework
Because of the current competitive market, Chatpar says “mobile customer experience (MCE) management today occupies every retailer’s mind share. Besides providing a high level of customer service, the need of the hour is to meet and exceed the customer’s expectations,” he says.
Retailers can provide a seamless and enhanced customer shopping experience by leveraging the technology available today. As part of the MCE program, Wipro recommends a tailored road map for mobile devices and the role it plays in customers’ purchasing life cycle. This blueprint adopts an iterative approach, which helps the retailer deploy its mobile presence in a phased manner to reach long-term, end-to-end, seamless connectivity across all channels that influence customers’ purchasing decisions.
“Our iterative solution begins with creating the mobile channel presence and slowly evolves the content, features, and integration into core enterprise systems,” says the Wipro executive.
The road map includes the following elements:
- Build a mobile presence. A Nielsen study last year reported a 13 percent growth in traffic for Internet sites that added a mobile component. In addition, offers directly through the mobile device save on printing, distribution, and other logistics. To make this happen, retailers have to have a mobile-accessible URL with capabilities such as store locator and promotions.
- Inform and connect. The next phase is to start offering information around products and services. This helps customers view details while they are on the go or in the store and can influence sales.
- Strengthen brand and culture. Retailers can offer focused content and applications to engage customers with their brand. Ideas include inviting customers to review/rate products, presenting tips and tutorials around products, building social communities, providing feedback, etc. This type of engagement causes customers to become brand advocates and influence the community.
- Integrate with core systems. By leveraging core enterprise systems, retailers can offer true cross-channel and multi-channel experiences to the customers. For example, offering the ability to look up product availability and features before customers walk into a store helps avoid disappointments.
- Enable mobile commerce. Publicized as the next generation of e-commerce, the M-commerce platform provides the ability for customers to purchase products or services from the retailer directly using their handheld devices, offering a true “anywhere, anytime” purchase experience.
- Strengthen customer retention. Retailers can leverage the mobile connection to deliver a variety of CRM solutions and loyalty reward programs to open new avenues to connect with customers. Sending rewards and offers adds a personal touch and makes shopping easily accessible to customers on the go.
- Innovate. One of the advantages of today’s sophisticated mobile platforms is the opportunity to create innovative solutions that appeal to customers and enable other modes of viral marketing. Retailers can deploy these point solutions at any phase of the mobile enablement transformation.
Chatpar says Wipro’s MCE management framework produces a tailored road map for the retailer. “The road map meets the retailer’s current mobile requirements and then builds a foundation so the retailer can leverage its other capabilities long term,” he explains.
Wipro builds storyboards because they visually explain the interaction at every stage. “They helps retailers envision how their customers will interact with them using a mobile device,” says Chatpar.
This sample storyboard starts with a customer making a purchase at one of the retailer’s selling channels, explains Chatpar. Then, the customer enrolls in the retailer’s loyalty program. The rest of the storyboard depicts how customers can use their mobile devices to enhance their shopping experience by accessing their loyalty rewards, viewing customized offers, browsing product catalogs, and even checking product details, reviews, and ratings.
The bottom line: He recommends retailers use Wipro’s MCE program “as a strategic avenue to influence customers’ purchasing decisions. In addition, the program can increase store traffic, which drives sales.”