• December 9, 2015

Interaction to Revenue – Build a Mobile Enterprise in Consumer Industries and Retail Organizations

A mobility-based business transformation program offers tremendous benefits for retailers and consumer industries. It provides new ways to change consumer expectations while building brand loyalty.

The power of mobility

You can open up any industry publication, website, or blog and find a variety of opinions, forecasts, ideas, and trends concerning mobility. There is no one right answer to the question, “How should we best handle mobile opportunities?”

What works in grocery is unlikely to be the same as for a specialty retailer. Similarly, successful mobile deployments in a high-end beauty cosmetics company may not be ideal for value-brand cosmetics. These statements hold true for consumer, partner, and enterprise mobile opportunities.

Most companies are struggling to successfully integrate mobility into their organizations. Most now understand that mobility is a constantly changing environment. Adding to this uncertainty, it may also be difficult to quantify the return on mobile investments in terms of capital and human investments. According to Retail Systems Research (RSR), the top three challenges of mobile opportunities are not having enough mobile resources to manage all the available opportunities, difficulty in getting IT resources for mobile projects, and budgeting and ROI.

Enterprise mobility is about a fundamental change in the way you do business, as a consumer and associate—mobility is the new interaction model.

Mobility gives you the opportunity to leapfrog any of your past business transformation e orts and dramatically change the way you interact with consumers and associates. This approach does not discount the importance of the underlying technology enablers that mobile requires. But it is important to understand that effectively leveraging mobility is a business-driven change based on a new interaction model.

Perhaps more importantly, you should understand the transformational nature of mobility. It fundamentally changes consumer expectations about engaging with your brand and can provide innovative ways to operate your enterprise.

The mobile environment

Yes, mobility is a challenge. Yes, it’s a constantly changing environment across the board. But no, you can’t ignore enterprise mobility, nor can you a ord to take a “wait and see” approach.

Consumers, associates, and business partners now expect brands to be one step ahead of them, not three steps behind. We believe that retailers and consumer industries may also underestimate the influence mobility has on consumer purchase behavior. RSR research indicates the majority of retailers think mobility influences less than 25% of purchases. But, with smartphone use dramatically increasing and Millennials knowing nothing but a world where mobile and digital are ubiquitous, many suspect this number is higher. And it is certainly growing.

Retailers and consumer industries are looking to embrace their top opportunity: “deeper customer engagement to build loyalty through mobile channels” (according to RSR). To do this, they must create an environment that deepens this engagement. This means mobile-enabled value add at every point in—and beyond—the path to purchase.

In consumer industries, the use cases for mobile applications are arguably more varied than for retailers, whose prime focus is on the consumer. Obviously, brand managers are developing applications (apps) to deeply engage with the consumer and build brand loyalty. But consumer industries are also looking for ways to improve collaborative interactions within their organizations and with trading partners. Improving the visibility of product, information, and cash flows is a major driver for increasing speed and agility to changing market conditions.

Forrester points out in a recent research study that senior business executives, sales, and marketing leaders are pushing for systems of engagement that deliver real-time dashboard-style data apps to their mobile devices. Their goals are to better manage KPIs, to speed business processes, and to improve the accuracy and timeliness of their decision-making.

Mobility in consumer industries means finally capitalizing on past CRM investments to provide 1:1 marketing to shoppers at the point of purchase. It requires real-time supply chain visibility so business partners can react quickly to sudden changes in demand. It means providing field associates with mobile planogram and other merchandising capabilities that add value through assortment and more efficient use of shelf space. With these capabilities, direct store delivery models can greatly benefit from mobility. It may also involve transforming warehousing and distribution functions to improve operational excellence and productivity.

Real-world mobility

The following examples may help demonstrate how mobility is changing consumer industries and retail environments.

Pharmaceuticals and pharmacy
Mobility can mean prescription refill alerts, integrating drug interaction information, and suggestions for complementary purchases. This information is already available to the pharmacist, but companies can gain real value by linking it to subsequent transactions.

A consumer who purchases a prescription drug that reacts negatively with an over-the-counter (OTC) product can receive a mobile alert about this issue when purchasing that OTC product at any time after having the prescription filled. This information is usually printed on the “Drug Facts” form issued with the drug, and the pharmacist may also offer this advice. But, a reminder would be valuable to the consumer, who may be taking several other medications and struggling to manage all the information.

Consider the virtual, dynamic mobile shopping list. A busy working mom might start a shopping list on her tablet in the morning as she’s hurrying her kids off to school and getting ready for work. She then might continue that shopping list on her smartphone as she’s waiting in carpool that afternoon. She doesn’t have the time to clip and manage paper coupons; she needs electronic coupons automatically suggested and added to her loyalty card, based on her purchase history.

She must have real-time pricing on her mobile app so she can stay within her weekly grocery budget. She needs the mobile grocery list organized by store layout so she can quickly complete her shopping trip in between soccer games and homework. She needs the ability to scan a product (bar codes, QR codes, or simply the packaging) and immediately add this item to her digital receipt or get additional product information. She appreciates the ability to access recipes, special offers, or other information. She expects to quickly and securely pay for her transaction.

Of course, the grocer and its consumer industries partners can benefit greatly by capturing and analyzing the data generated during every interaction in this shopping trip. Additionally, retailers can take advantage of shoppers’ ability to identify out-of-stock items and o er an immediate rain check or send an alert if the product is in the store’s backroom, thus avoiding losing a sale.

Department stores
Think of the benefits of equipping sales associates with information about products, consumers, wish/gift lists, and cross-store inventory availability during consumer interactions. Mobility can mean not only providing this information, but ensuring sales associates are trained on the best ways to use it. This holistic approach can make mobility a key enabler to achieving tighter brand loyalty without compromising consumer privacy concerns.Associates can also use mobile devices for merchandising and inventory tasks such as replenishment and price tag printing. Mobile associate checklists can ensure assigned tasks are not only easily communicated, but also can show management which tasks have been completed, at what time, and how quickly. Staff measurement, compensation, and reward structures can change to reflect the expanded use of mobility in a dynamic retail world.
Mass merchant or warehouse club
Retailers can now provide store-specific location details about products. This helps shoppers more easily maneuver large environments, avoiding consumer frustration and lost sales. Using the consumer’s transaction history, stores may offer mobile incentives inviting the shopper to visit new or different departments within the store.

Store associates can receive mobile alerts about equipment issues (such as an extreme temperature drop in a reach-in freezer) so they can react quickly to avoid product spoilage or immediately order service or replacement parts. Mobility can give consumers and associates omnichannel visibility into product pricing and availability. That level of visibility can ensure out-of-stock items or SKUs not carried in a particular store can be easily ordered, paid for, and shipped according to the consumer’s preference—thus avoiding lost sales.

Specialty retail
Social shopping can be enabled within and without the physical store environment. Millennials know no other world than digital and mobile. These consumers are instant-gratifiers, typically strong influencers or easily influenced. They embrace new technologies much more quickly than past generations. Specialty retailers need mobile solutions that fully exploit the feedback and influence of increasingly ubiquitous social media. They also need to arm themselves with just as much information as their consumers have in their hands (smartphones). Associate mobile devices allow associates to access product info, consumer loyalty information, and so forth, allowing them to better serve the consumer and enable a more personalized experience.

Mobility might save the day for a busy traveling executive whose luggage was lost by the airline. Imagine if that executive were to connect via a mobile device to a chosen apparel retailer and request that clothing for a three-day trip be ready to pick up on the way from the airport in a strange city. The executive’s sizes, colors, and other preferences are known through prior purchases and previously provided information.

Instead of having to spend precious time picking out clothing, the retailer’s mobile capabilities provide outfit suggestions the executive can immediately approve, change, or reject. By the time the executive arrives at the store, the clothing is pressed, hung, paid for, and ready to pick up. For minimal time invested, that executive’s loyalty is increased tremendously.

The use cases are varied and numerous. Those mentioned here represent a small portion of opportunities to leverage mobile in consumer industries and retail.

Connected mobility
You can create more connected, mobile business environments. We recommend an approach designed to yield more personalized, consistent, and predictable experiences—across all channels and at any time. This omnichannel approach requires two key elements: advanced information management and analytics, and proven mobility solutions.

Big Data
To fully realize the power of mobility, you must leverage the power of structured and unstructured information across your business ecosystems. Information can only be useful if you can manage the volume, velocity, and variety of data, and then convert that information into actionable insights. Real-time analytics are needed to understand and engage consumers and to quickly respond to changing market conditions.

An end-to-end, mobility-oriented approach to information management and analytics helps you gain a true 360° view of your environment. A robust data and analytics capability will include strategic information planning and organization, data architectures, a proven analytics and data delivery platform, and social intelligence capabilities.

Big Data is essential to incorporate tremendous amounts of information from a vast variety of sources. This information ultimately can help you better understand your consumers, enhance your product offerings, and provide exceptional experiences. Cloud is needed to ensure information and functionality are available wherever and however consumers and associates need to use it.

A plan for mobility

To ensure secure, seamless, and context-aware experiences in a connected world, you should take a holistic approach to enterprise mobility. That approach should address the end-to-end requirements of the mobility life cycle—from strategic planning and applications design, to development, testing, systems integration, and management to device strategy.

Planning for the mobile enterprise should begin by identifying your business goals and the business value of mobile interactions and operations. You should also evaluate the ease of mobile implementation. Identifying your goals and understanding the personas of the different mobile users will help drive your mobile strategy. This strategy will, in turn, answer questions about native or cross-platform development approaches and determine which mobile development platform will best help you be successful.

Mobile apps require a user-centric design process to create an experience that drives the right level of user adoption. Leveraging agile development methods enables simple function mobile apps to be developed quickly to accelerate the time to value of your mobile initiatives.

Security is critical, as consumer privacy concerns, corporate intellectual property issues, and cyber threats are continuously on the rise. Security reaches across multiple layers of technology in a mobile world, with the mobile device and mobile application being most vulnerable. Assessing the security threat and closing down the security vulnerabilities ensure sensitive information is not at risk when a mobile device is lost, stolen, or compromised.

Rigorous testing can ensure mobile applications work across multiple platforms and deliver the desired user experience. Containing the cost of testing across a diverse range of devices is a key challenge that can be overcome using a “script once, test many” approach.

A solid infrastructure is needed to ensure technologies work seamlessly and transparently, all while keeping IT costs at a minimum. This means tightly integrating store, enterprise, and partner systems into all mobile initiatives, which may then require application and infrastructure modernization. As such, a roadmap to full mobile integration, across the entire enterprise and all supply chains, is necessary.

A device strategy is needed to identify the tools that associates will use to assist consumers anywhere in the store, accelerate checkout, and improve sales productivity. In addition, a strategy is needed to better understand how bring-your-own-device paradigms will impact the enterprise.

Mobility and transformation

Incorporating mobility into an enterprise—whether it is consumer-facing, enterprise, or partner—is not about simply migrating applications to a mobile device.

The strategic drivers should involve transforming the way a company operates in all three mobile domains. It should begin with understanding where the enterprise is strategically focused and what pain points exist. It then determines how mobility can solve these issues and drive toward those strategic objectives. As such, mobility initiatives must be derived and sponsored by business leaders. IT’s role should be that of a strategic, trusted advisor.

From the start, companies should involve associates, consumers, and business partners to identify and buy into mobile transformation initiatives. Mobile transformation should not be taken lightly. It is as big, if not bigger than, an enterprise system implementation such as SAP or Oracle. Upfront user involvement is critical for success. Companies should consider where process, organization, and technology changes will occur. They should also focus on communications, training, and user acceptance of the transformation.

To fully take advantage of mobility; business processes, organizational structures, roles, and responsibilities must all change. Companies must understand that mobile-enabled business transformation will enable them to stop operating with broken and ine icient processes. It can help them streamline their organizational structures and develop roles and responsibilities with greatly enhanced productivity. And it will likely have the additional benefit of reducing IT and other costs.

The benefits of mobile-enabled business transformation can be tremendous. But you can realize those benefits only if you are truly ready to embrace this change from a strategic, holistic business perspective.

About the author

Saif Rivers
Retail Client Principal, Consumer Industries and Retail, HPE Enterprise Services

Saif Rivers is the retail client principal for Consumer Industries and Retail at HPE. He develops and drives the industry strategy for solutions and investments that align and address client challenges unique to consumer and retail clients. He has more than 15 years of consulting experience helping clients successfully plan and deploy strategic initiatives and achieve bottom-line results. Before joining the U.S. organization, he was responsible for defining the retail solutions and engagement strategy for EMEA and has worked with clients spanning the globe, including BRIC countries. Before he started his technology career, Saif worked as a merchandiser at one of London’s premier fashion retailers.