Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Agile Commerce – Unlocking a Mobile Applications Strategy that works

October 18, 2011

One common misconception in creating an Agile Commerce strategy, especially in Retailing, is to think that the strategy is purely centered on technology.

Retailers must “operationalize” customer intelligence across channels from existing systems such as customer relationship management, web analytics, business intelligence, data warehousing and mobile applications.

Agile Commerce is not a solution looking for a problem to solve but a process for enhancing the customer experience and driving additional revenue and profit to the organization.  An Agile Commerce strategy and business strategy need to be developed in parallel.

Mobile Applications play an important role in an agile commerce strategy.  If implemented properly in accordance with the business/retailing strategy, Mobile Applications can improve the customer experience.

  • Mobile Barcodes: Mobile barcodes are a powerful way to drive in-store transactions. For example, retailers can provide a mobile application that enables customers to use the camera in their mobile phone to snap a picture of a barcode, which then brings up a special landing page for that product or group of products. This can provide customers with instant product and pricing information and create opportunities for cross selling or up selling. These same capabilities would also provide the ability to generate coupons or vouchers that encourage impulse buying in the store.
  • Location-Based Services: Mobile store-locator applications can guide customers to the nearest store, or the nearest store that has a specific product in inventory, and provide coupons for use in the store.
  • In-Store Shopping Applications: Mobile devices can become “virtual salespeople” by providing applications that enable customers to check product availability (both in-store and online), compare prices with other outlets and access reliable product information. (Enabling price comparisons with other outlets seems counterintuitive, but it actually is beneficial because it helps keep the customer in the store to negotiate pricing rather than having them leave to investigate pricing elsewhere.)
  • Multichannel Engagement: Mobile can become the first point of contact with a potential customer, who can then be transferred to other online or offline channels. For example, a coupon could be used as an incentive to download a mobile application, with the coupon redeemable at the online or offline store. Mobile is also an excellent channel for customer updates. SMS messages, email or automated phone calls can be used to notify customers to product availability or special promotions, driving them to online and offline stores, and providing them with vouchers while in-store to encourage impulse buying.
  • Closing the Sale: Actual mobile transactions have been slow to evolve since those initial Coca-Cola machine rollouts, due primarily to technical and security considerations. Most of those issues have been overcome today, making mobile a suitable mechanism for capturing customer information and executing transactions.

Mobile application technology should provide the flexibility to adapt to emerging business requirements, so it can support mobile commerce operations both today and in the future–even if future requirements are not yet known.

In addition to being fully integrated with a broader commerce platform, mobile commerce technology should have the following core capabilities that will enable a truly rich mobile commerce strategy:

  • Integrated Content Management: This will enable easy development of mobile-optimized websites and ensure content consistency across different sites and channels. The solution should have a single interface for content creation, and advanced search and navigation capabilities to make content access simple and intuitive. It should also integrate with promotions functionality, to facilitate the rapid creation and deployment of promotional content.
  • Mobile Barcode Generation: As detailed earlier in this blog, mobile barcodes open a broad range of opportunities to influence customer behavior – from driving them to online and offline stores, to encouraging impulse purchasing, to promoting up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
  • Standards-Based APIs: These APIs – most often based on Web services standards – will enable seamless integration with other systems and support for all varieties of mobile platforms. This enables mobile and commerce platforms to integrate with back-end systems, and all major mobile platforms.

In order for the agile commerce strategy to be implemented effectively two primary tenets need to be adhered to:

  1. Make agility and speed a corporate imperative. In order to win in the new era of agile commerce, organizations must overcome the IT bottleneck that comes with making e-commerce changes. It’s essential to be able to inject customized content into customer interactions seamlessly, throughout the sales cycle.
  2. Create a multifaceted/cross-functional team structure. You need to optimize more than your technology. The right people and processes must deliver the same level of continuity, engagement, and relevance across all touch points. No longer can a few members of the organization dictate the impact of digital marketing. Through a “cross-pollination of expertise” you can leverage the new technologies to create an army of margin makers at all levels of the organization, a business culture where all employees are empowered to influence revenue based on the ability to carry out great ideas quickly, with measurable and actionable results.
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Customer Centricity on Steroids with Agile Commerce

August 10, 2011

Over the years the term of “Customer Centricity” has been the buzz word for retail organizations. Retailers are now focusing on operations to optimize the customer relationship.  This includes setting up as many touch points within the store and via web and print media as possible.  However, as we move into a social networking paradigm the term of “Agile Commerce” is taking hold and it has a lot to offer retailers on how they take “Customer Centricity” to the next level.

Many retailers recognize the need for visibility everywhere their customers are, but most don’t really know how to do this yet.  As a result, far too many retailers attempt to fit old-school marketing tactics to these new touch points. Display ads on social networks, non-conversational Twitter streams full of nothing but brand announcements, one-time deals attempting to buy fans–are (simply put) square pegs, and hammer as marketers might otherwise think, these types of online marketing programs just cannot fit  in round hole

The key to Agile Commerce is to deliver targeted content effortlessly and seamlessly across multiple touch points such as email, smartphones, social media, websites, print media, and within the four walls of the store.

But how is that accomplished when the constant spread of social means the number of these touch points increases every day?

One rudimentary answer would be to deeply understanding a customer’s needs, and proactively delivering content that meets those needs. Retailers must now “operationalize” customer intelligence across channels from existing systems such as customer relationship management, web analytics, business intelligence, and data warehouses. 

Forward thinking retailing CIO’s are beginning to tackle this issue and those that are not will place their organizations at a competitive disadvantage. 

Forrester Research has best described Agile Commerce as “... not just an incremental change; it’s a metamorphosis to a new form of operations and technology orientation. While the pieces and capabilities of an agile commerce operation may look similar to those focused for years on multichannel commerce, it’s how they come together and how the organization responds to the customer that represents the significant change. With the advent of agile commerce, organizations need to reconfigure resources and capabilities to stay ahead of the rate of change as consumer technology adoption and behaviors change. The customer is now at the center, and delivering relevant content, commerce, and service is the key to delivering on the new reality.”

So the big question is: How do you begin to develop and execute a strategy to better meet the needs of this new paradigm? 

Stay tuned, in my next post I will start to lay out the foundation that needs to be established and the tools that are now available to maximize the relationship with your customer.

Can a remote employee work as security as one at Headquarters?

October 28, 2010

Cisco’s Jason Lackey certainly thinks so. In his blog post yesterday he has described a scenario where a mobile worker can work as securely as one at HQ.

Today, while we have seen that there is plenty of meat in Borderless Networks in the office, Borderless Networks has plenty of meat on the road as well. Bob, our enterprise worker, travels a lot, doing trade shows and customer visits and dispensing Kool-Aid of various types. When he knows he is going to have to do some heavy lifting with PowerPoint he is sure to take a laptop running AnyConnect, a secure VPN client that works with the Cisco ASA firewall back at HQ to give secure, encrypted remote access. Even if he is in a coffee shop using public Wi-Fi, he knows that his data is safe because everything is going back through that encrypted tunnel. But it is more than just connectivity that we are talking about here because traffic goes through a Cisco IronPort web security appliance, filtering spyware, trojans and the like. And, just like when he is in the office, TrustSec ensures that he has access to what he needs and can’t touch the things he doesn’t. Security is deeply integrated into the network itself, not just an afterthought or add-on appliance.

In today’s environment, security should be the number one priority of CIO’s, CSO’s, and CTO’s.  Mobile users are now one of the largest growing segments of the IT user groups. Mobile phones and more people working from home are necessitating the need for remote security solutions that are as robust as those at Head quarters.