Retail Predictions for 2016

The rise of mobile shopping has been an enormous force in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing in 2016. However, there are several factors businesses need to be wary of when implementing mobile-first strategies.

One important dynamic is the connection between mobile shopping and in-store purchases. Pat Dermody, president of mobile destination application Retale, provided insight in a statement:

"People are shopping and buying on a mobile device. That has always been clear. But mobile is now more concretely linked to driving in store purchases, thanks to better in-house and third-party technology."

Services such as buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) will also continue to rise in popularity in 2016, Dermody said:

"You clearly see further integration of the omni-channel experience as retailers use their physical stores not just to provide a great customer experience for their shoppers, but as mini-distribution centers to fulfill orders and reservations that come in online. From a floor management standpoint, you're also seeing technology and connectivity be better deployed as some store associates are equipped with tablets and mobile payment devices to make shopping and buying easier for their customers."

Creating a seamless retail experience across all channels and physical locations is essential for businesses to make the most of customers' increasing penchant for mobile shopping. Nevertheless, the rise of mobile is not without its risks. According to a study by mobile security solutions provider NowSecure, customers using their phones to make purchases may unknowingly be exposing themselves and the Web sites of the companies they shop from to security risks.

The NowSecure study examined 100 popular consumer apps for iPhone and Android, and rated them on a Pass/Warn/Fail system, with Pass indicating that data inputted into the app is secure, Warn indicating that data is not secure but does not put the user at significant risk, and Fail indicating that sensitive data is not sufficiently secured. No retail apps passed the test: 86 percent received a Warn rating; the remaining 14 percent received a Fail rating.

The information from this study indicates that while businesses may be eager to push mobile retail apps, customer security should not be sacrificed. Furthermore, retail apps may not be the best option for businesses looking to engage customers on mobile, Dermody said:

"Most mobile users only have 2 or fewer retailer apps on their device. While retailers want people to have their particular store app downloaded, they understand that shoppers who are less than 100% loyal, 100% of the time, will gravitate toward aggregators.”

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