GSMA: How mobile has impacted retail in 2017
While commentators have mourned for the death of the high street for years, last year saw a significant shift in the way online retailers are reaching consumers and encouraging them to part with their hard-earned money.
WorldPay highlighted the changes in consumer behaviour in its omni-channel report. According to the report, omni-channel shoppers spend between 50-300% more than single channel shoppers – making them an increasingly valuable demographic for retailers.
Shoppers’ growing desire for instant gratification has forced retailers to adopt a more seamless, hybrid approach. Those set up to succeed in this digital era are using personalisation, providing a consistent experience across in-store and online, and reacting quickly to trends and consumer preferences.
Amazon has been a key player in setting the omni-channel agenda for the last couple of years, recognising that customers want more options. It moved offline to launch its first physical bookstore in 2015 and announced three more flagship bookstores in 2016. Amazon Go, which launched just last month, is a cashier-free store. It harnesses the true power of mobile to offer a seamless buying experience – payments are deducted from the consumer’s Amazon account, which is identified through geolocation tags via their mobile phone.
This wave of new multichannel services is exciting. A number of new retail solutions debuted at CES this month included delivery drones, robots on wheels that can escort your take-away from the restaurant to your front door, and an augmented reality (AR) offering that lets customers take a virtual tour of BMW cars using their mobiles. However, becoming truly omni-channel also poses challenges – when your customers can come from anywhere, how do you identify them, serve them and keep their data safe?
The retailers that will succeed in 2017 will be those who offer a streamlined and seamless shopping experience across every channel, without jeopardising shoppers’ privacy and security.
A shift in consumer behaviour
Today’s discerning shopper wants a targeted, personalised retail experience, such as tailored offers that match their buying habits. And they want them on their mobile device. An iVend survey from 2016 found that 26% of respondents would like personalised loyalty scheme offers sent directly to their mobiles when they’re in store. Moreover, 94% of those people were more likely to save offers and coupons delivered to their mobile wallet.
Retailers are increasingly embracing iBeacon technology to deliver in-store offers directly to consumers’ pockets. Tesco, for example, recently rewarded lucky grocery shoppers by sending ice cream offers directly to their mobile phones during the summer heatwave.
The appetite for targeted deals will increase throughout 2017, but retailers need to make sure that their targeted offers engage their customers, rather than annoy them, striking a careful balance between personalisation and invasiveness.
The key to fostering trust
Today, consumers demand transparency. Customers are ready to opt-in to personalised news and deals from their favourite stores, but they also know the value their data holds for retailers. If shoppers find out that brands have tracked their movements, or used their personal information in any way without explicit commission, they’ll simply vote with their feet – in fact 66% of consumers are happy to give up their data in exchange for services or products, but they need to know that retailers won’t take advantage of this willing exchange.
An approach that combines transparency, safety and privacy is key. With this in mind, it’s important to articulate what data is being collected, stored and shared in return for a better shopping experience.
The crucial role of mobile
Mobile technology offers a range of powerful and diverse benefits for retailers. It can help them to capture shoppers’ attention on-the-go, provide location-specific information and deals, and even keep their data safe and secure.
Mobile authentication services like the GSMA’s Mobile Connect gives customers an additional layer of control over what information they disclose with retailers by prompting for explicit consent. Retailers can then use data from the mobile operator to confirm their customer’s identity and customers can access the service through their mobile, providing them a convenient, easy way to authenticate themselves. The additional benefit of this form of authentication is that it gives retailers more options for personalisation – for example using the customer’s date of birth, sourced from the mobile operator, to target them with relevant offers to their age demographic.
Retailers that embrace an authentication service are at a huge competitive advantage. Offering services like Mobile Connect helps prove to consumers that they take their customers’ privacy seriously. Shoppers can feel safe in the knowledge that the retailer is taking steps to protect their data, and gives them a seamless way to interact with in-store technologies like geo-location. Retailers who take security seriously and invest in omni-channel retailing will be rewarded by more engaged, loyal customers and will come out on top in the 2017 retail game.
By Marie Austenaa, Head of Identity Business Development at GSMA
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”