M-Commerce Inside Is Very Different Than M-Commerce Outside

Written by Evan Schuman
July 15th, 2010

Retailers tend to think of mobile as a single strategy, a way to deal with their customers via their mobile devices, regardless of where they are. But the truth is that retailers need to have two distinct mobile strategies: One for dealing with customers when they are inside physical stores and a second for when they are anywhere else.

In-Store Mobile (let’s call it ISM because retail sorely needs more TLAs) has far more capabilities and possibilities than Outside Mobile (OM). ISM offers the opportunity to interact with shelf tags and barcodes, which OM does not.

If you want to facilitate mobile interactions in-store—with perhaps a POS, a card swipe reader, a kiosk or even a smartcart—you have the possibility of Bluetooth. Or maybe even giving customers secured access to a customer-only LAN.

Then there’s signal access. Quite a few stores have structures that make them very mobile-signal hostile. (Not going to mention any names, but, yes, we’re looking at you, Macy’s flagship store in Manhattan.) How about a dose of Wi-Fi for customers to give them excellent high-speed data capabilities? Not a bad differentiator.

What about geolocation? Even if a cell signal makes its way into the store, satellite signals almost certainly won’t.

But that’s OK because, even if it did, it would do little more than indicate that the customer is in the building and give a very rough idea of location. To get more specific involves beacons and other items that will have to operate on your LAN. If you’re OK with that for your chain, it opens up a huge area of possibilities.

Don’t forget in-store promotions. Wal-Mart toyed with this option about 18 months ago, with short-duration promotions only available to customers when they were in-store. Barnes & Noble is trying its own twist on that approach now. Electronic book readers provide additional rich functionality, but only when the customer is in-store.

The point is that mobile done in-store provides a wide range of functionality opportunities—and IT deployment challenges—that simply don’t exist outside the store. When crafting that monthly revised mobile strategy, make sure you have at least two mobile strategies. And please remember to articulate them using your inside voice.


One Comment | Read M-Commerce Inside Is Very Different Than M-Commerce Outside

  1. Fabien Tiburce / Compliantia Says:

    The biggest story in mobility is one you haven’t told yet (as far as I can tell). Just like the “deep web” (that portion of the web hidden behind firewalls inside corporate and private networks) is estimated to be 10 times larger than the public web, the biggest opportunity in retail mobility doesn’t concern customers at all: mobility can transform a retailer’s operations, in-store merchandising and ordering processes. Don’t get me wrong, m-commerce is important. But m-commerce only benefits a small group (arguably an affluent trend-setting group). Mobile-enhanced operational processes, on the other hand, have the potential of transforming the retailer and turn it into a lean & mean profit making machine. Now where is the bigger story?


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.