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by Kate Enright There are now over 1.2 billion mobile Internet users worldwide. This exciting statistic means that business owners can no longer afford to ignore the rising tide of people accessing online content via their phones and tablets. So where to from here? The next question many are asking is, mobile app, mobile site, or both?  Based on the content you need to display and the service you need to provide, this decision is an important one. One thing is for sure however, retailers and other business owners can no longer afford to neglect the importance of their mobile presence.

by Kate Enright Last “holiday season” in the US, 50% of adult smartphone owners used their mobiles in-store to get help with purchases. This was to ensure that they got the best price possible and the most information when before making purchases. This data came from a study made by Pew of 1000 adult holiday shoppers all over the US. Pew found that 38% of shoppers called a friend while in store for advice, while 24% used their smart-phone to obtain product reviews online. 25% of phone users looked up prices online for products in-store in attempt to find the best deal online and in other stores. Altogether, 52% of all adult cell owners relied on their phone for one of these purposes and 33% specifically turned to their phone for online information while shopping inside a store.

by Kate Enright We now live in a world where every euro is appreciated and the throw-away attitude of the past is gone, the same can be said about brands consumers. Customer service expectations have been increasing consistently over the last four years, with 44% of consumers saying their expectations are higher than the previous year, compared to only 31%in 2008 [Forbes]. And, for the most part, retailers are stepping up and meeting the customer service challenge. Stories, for instance, of follow up, hand-written notes from retailers and complimentary bottles of wine sent to rooms from hotel management are now commonplace. Service providers are realising that we are living in an extremely competitive world and it is truly dog-eat-dog when it comes to getting new business and retaining old. The last thing however, that retailers/service providers should believe is that only the cheapest offerings will survive. Although, as I said, consumers do appreciate and value every cent much more so than before, that does not necessarily mean that they will always opt for the cheapest. What they will opt for, more often than not, is the best quality, the best level of service or a provider they feel connected with, simply because they want to know that they are spending their money in the best possible way with the best people. So how do we turn good customer service into customer loyalty? Firstly, you have to get to know your customer and secondly you have to take this knowledge and use to it understand what they really want and need. If you can market to that need directly and personally, tapping emotions and treating customers as individuals, you will reap the rewards. This goes beyond the generic “How was our service today?” form, email or text. After all, it has been proven that 85% of loyalty program members never hear from their loyalty programs after the day they sign up. So the generic loyalty programs in place from retailers clearly aren’t cutting it. Companies such as Swipely are thinking creatively by trimming back on loyalty cards and vouchers and using customers’ existing credit cards as vehicles to improving loyalty through clever marketing and deal offerings on behalf of merchants. Image

by Kate Enright Last year saw the explosion of social commerce or “social shopping” apps and sites and we have seen a steady flow spring up in 2012. As with most game-changing ecommerce concepts, the subsequent market entrants have started with more specific segmentation and a clearer target market. The whole basis of social commerce is referrals, referrals from friends, peer groups, family members. If you have similar tastes then why not share them and take the advice of others in your social circles? Image

by Kate Enright This past weekend saw the launch of Woolworth's virtual shopping facility in Sydney’s Town Hall Station. Shoppers in the station will now simply have to point and tap to order groceries right to their homes without the hassle of shopping trollies, frustrated toddlers and queues at the supermarket checkout. The virtual storefront displays images of the items most commonly purchased in stores accompanied by a bar code. By just pointing and tapping shoppers can add the item to their virtual basket and move to the next shelf. Genius. Image

www.vonbismark.com The dawn of online selling, now affectionately known as e-Commerce 1.0 saw the inception of online as a distribution channel. At the time however it was only really adoptable by large businesses with simple, often direct supply chains. Since then, as everyone knows, the online channel has gathered traction, so much so that all online sales account for an estimated 5% of the transactions that take place in the world today. [caption id="attachment_92" align="aligncenter" width="273" caption="Tesco have been busy leading the grocery industry in the area of virtual shopping"][/caption]

By Kate Enright Social check in has taken off and is now a key element to modern marketing. From physical business premises to virtual stores and even charities we now check-in almost everywhere we go. Why? Well although it is used by some to inform friends of their location, possibly to brag, possibly to extend an invite even just as habit, the biggest push is now the actual incentive provided by the organisation itself. Whether it is a money-off voucher, a free coffee or even a charitable donation delivered on your behalf, all of these incentives are a way for companies to ensure their names are out there. Image