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Strong retail partnerships offline necessary to support mobile commerce

December 27, 2010

sears1With the increase in consumer uptake of smartphones in 2011, more retail players will take to mobile, deploying product discovery tools with the hopes of driving sales.

An example is Sears Holdings Corp., which is using multiple mobile channels, from commerce-enabled mobile Web sites and applications to QR codes, to enhance its multichannel holiday marketing strategy and drive sales.

“There will need to be strong retail partnerships offline to support mobile commerce and QR bar codes will help to improve discovery for many,” said KF Lai, CEO of BuzzCity, Los Angeles.

“Localization is one of the key elements required to better engage mobile users and it’s likely that this trend will further develop in 2011,” he said. “Furthermore, as mobile marketing continues to mature, it’s vital that brands don’t restrict their strategies to smartphones.

“Feature phones continue to dominate in many areas and incorporating these handsets within mobile marketing strategies is vital.”

Banking and commerce
The retail and entertainment sectors are leading the way with mobile payments – and BuzzCity is seeing innovative payment methods being deployed where least expected. Some of the most surprising examples are in African countries.

After successfully launching broadcast mobile TV services in Namibia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria in 2008, MultiChoice, through its mobile division DStv Mobile, launched the service recently in November in South Africa for selected Nokia handset models, according to Buzz City.

Prezence Digital created a commerce-enabled mobile site using extensive Handset Content Adaptation (HCA), which is a one-stop mobile destination where consumers can browse, book and pay for tickets to their favourite events.

Retail outlets such as Spar sent out text-based mobile vouchers for all handsets across all carriers for selected FMCG products with discounts of up to 30 percent.

Bank-led MVNOs, such as First National Bank (FNB) in South Africa will sign on more merchant partners as more retail players take up-mobile strategies.

Budgets shift towards digital
BuzzCity predicts that marketing budgets will continue to shift towards digital as the audience on mobile continues to grow, handsets get better and cheaper, and data rates continue to fall in 2011.

Mobile will get a bigger slice of digital spend, particularly in emerging markets where the medium is the more common form of  online access due to infrastructure and cost reasons, as well as amongst niche communities.

There will be an increase in brands and agencies using more mobile tools – SMS, mobile display ads, applications, in-game ads, search and location-based services – to enable them to engage with their target audiences for branding, customer acquisition and retention efforts.

“But clients remain price sensitive and the era of experimentation in mobile is over,” Mr. Lai said. “2011 will be the year when it’s time to decide on a clear strategy for mobile marketing.

“It will be critical for brands to ensure that mobile is fully integrated into their businesses – a traditional Web presence is simply not enough anymore,” he said. “Plus agencies need to work closely with the brand’s product development team to define the role of mobile.

“In other words, will it be an app, a site?”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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