2012 saw a 112% increase in the number of Australian adult smartphone users and as of May 2013 there were 8.5 Million using the devices. That equates to 49% of the population with some predictions quoting figures closer to 60% by mid-2014. The study published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority also found that 4.37 Million adults in Australia possess a tablet. With 39% of emails now opened on smartphones and up to 100 minutes a day spent on the devices it’s safe to say that mobility is now entrenched in everyday Australian life be it business or pleasure.
The adoption of smartphones has created an unparalleled opportunity for retailers, marketers and technology companies to increase their customer engagement and experiences. And as the retail market becomes more diversified, finding innovative avenues to increase brand awareness and customer personalisation can only be seen as clear differentiators.
The fundamental change in technology has also seen its challenges and some of these have been impeding the release of more efficient processing and customer engagement programs. Take for example ‘The Digital Wallet’. In Australia this is one technology advancement that is yet to become mainstream. Compared to our American cousins where according to results from a new survey by Visa, nearly 57% of American adults expect digital wallets to replace physical money. Also roughly 27% of smartphone users in the U.S. have used their device for purchasing retail merchandise in the last year. The study went on to reveal that ease of payment via a single payment gateway was the key to wide spread adoption.
2014 might just be the year where harmony is achieved between NFC or Near Field Communication and payment gateways. This is becoming a reality with payment gateway vendors projecting a 25% increase in 2014 of the rollout of contactless payment enabled EFTPOS terminals into the market. This is a twofold increase compared to 2013 and is driven by a number of factors but the most compelling one being that certain Merchant Category Codes (MCC) have been mandated by the banks to have the contactless readers in place by 2014.
Another trend that is predicted to surge in 2014 is the reach of retailers to their customers via unique mobile benefit programs driving brand messages and generating advocates? For example, Lorna Jane have increased their mobile customer experience, with a trend indicating that 40% of their customers are arriving to their site via a mobile device. The fitness clothing retailer now provides a workout monitoring app. This free app enables the individual to record their exercise routine and keep track of their progress. In a subliminal way it promotes the brands value proposition and drives clients to engage with the company regarding their technical clothing. The retailer understands that for them the future is providing value beyond the physical item to their clientele and mobility has been the enabler of that experience.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau has stated that 2012 mobile advertising budgets increased by 220% and companies spent in excess of $86.2 Million on the platform alone. Forecasts by Frost and Sullivan have predicted a strong growth in this area with expenditure forecasts to reach $177 million by 2017. This translates into what might be a race for retailers to find new and innovative methods to attract customers and enhance engagements via mobility. With Australians now spending an average of 100 minutes per day on their mobile devices the channel is now open for business and messaging and campaigns need to reflect this.
2014 will hopefully see an increase in customer sentiment where spending will return to more optimistic levels. The challenge for retailers and their technology partners is to find innovative opportunities to streamline operations, increase brand awareness and provide differentiation to their customers. Mobility is one of the channels that provides this and 2014 might just be the turning point where innovation and adoption are finally in harmony.