More than 50% of Americans are expected to own a smartphone by the end of 2011

More than 50% of Americans are expected to own a smartphone by the end of 2011

The retail industry's NRF 'BIG Show,' which took place in New York this week, is an annual opportunity for retailers to tap into the latest technologies for improving everything from customer analysis to mobile commerce.

Mobile adoption in particular is moving rapidly. ABI Research reports that through December 2010, mobile commerce excluding travel will have grown 143%, up from $1.4bn in 2009 to $3.4bn in 2010.

For retailers this presents enormous challenges if they don't get on board, but huge opportunities if they do. Mobile devices mark a fundamental shift in consumer shopping behaviour, helping reduce abandonment rates and long waits in line. They also personalise the shopping experience, and deliver in-store efficiency with transactions that can take place virtually anywhere on the store floor. What's more, mobile shopping also provides new levels of data on consumer behaviour.

  • NRF releases second version of Mobile Blueprint
    The National Retail Federation today released the second version of its Mobile Blueprint, which provides the retail industry with guidance on the successful use of mobile devices in marketing, commerce and internal operations. Version 2.0 of the Blueprint contains the best thinking of more than 30 companies. Highlights include the latest mobile retail trends and applications, with a maturity model forecasting how mobile will continue to impact retailing businesses. The mobile payment section describes more than 35 alternative payment methods, the potential impact of mobile on chip and pin security, and the expected growth in the number of NFC contactless phones. There is a look at new mobile POS applications including digital receipts that hold the promise of "mobile self checkout". And a section that describes how cloud computing and other new technologies can accelerate implementations of secure mobile services and drive down costs.
  • CrossView debuts cross-channel mobile solutions
    CrossView has added mobile commerce store and point of sale solutions to its line-up, which are designed to plug into its existing cross-channel commerce platform. The new tools let retailers deploy mobile web stores, mobile shopping assistance tools, and mobile POS for retail sales associates through their existing infrastructures. And because they plug directly into existing cross-channel platforms, companies are able to use insight and history from existing customers.
  • Starmount introduces mobile selling application
    Starmount, the company behind Urban Outfitters' mobile point of sale rollout, has introduced Engage, a new mobile selling tool that lets store staff find the latest product details and availability, and complete the sale, without leaving the customer's side. The firm is also collaborating with AisleBuyer, which enables users purchase a product right from the aisle using their smartphone. Combined, the two products provide retailers with new options to interact with customers by offering end-to-end, in-store mobile shopping and checkout.
  • Cabela's implements mobile strategy
    Outdoor gear retailer Cabela's has launched a mobile website powered by Digby's mobile commerce software platform so that customers can shop via devices like the iPhone/iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android anytime, anywhere. The new channel complements the retailer's e-commerce website, catalogues and 30 stores in the US and Canada, with key features including rich product photographs, complete product descriptions, customer-submitted product reviews, shop by category, shop by brand, store locator, e-mail and a site search.
  • First Insight for smarter buying decisions
    Merchant recommendation platform First Insight, which helps retailers to select the most profitable new products based on real-time feedback from consumers, has unveiled a new suite of merchandising tools to allow retailers and manufacturers make smarter buying, pricing and marketing decisions. Voice of Store Solution (VOS), Vertically Integrated Retailer Workflow and Consumer Engagement Portfolio enhance the collection of consumer and internal in-store data, adding internal feedback into the mix.
  • SAS enhances customer intelligence suite
    SAS has enhanced its Customer Intelligence suite to help firms automate and better target their marketing campaigns. Improvements include better integration of online analytics and offline sources so that firms can synchronise their marketing activities across the business. Retailers can understand their customers' Web behaviour, their sentiment in social media, what their market baskets look like, and how to create a one-to-one relationship, tailored promotions and more," explains Diana McHenry, SAS global retail product marketing.
  • Tyco's new traffic intelligence tool
    A new entry-level traffic intelligence tool from Tyco Retail Solutions helps retailers capture information about shopper behaviour and use this to improve sales and marketing activities. Leading retailers such as Under Armour have used Tyco's advanced data-capture technology to improve store layouts, measure and evaluate efficiencies, and ultimately drive sales.
  • Eileen Fisher's merchandise management move
    Women's wear retailer Eileen Fisher has selected merchandise management systems from MI9, to support its store and e-commerce businesses. The modules selected are MI9 Merchant (merchandise management); MI9 BI (business intelligence and retail data warehouse); and MI9 Intelligent Allocation (which optimises inventory across all channels of the business).
  • Quiksilver selects SAP solution
    Boardwear retailer Quiksilver is to use SAP business software to support the global development, production and distribution of its branded apparel, footwear and accessories. SAP Apparel and Footwear will help Quiksilver manage critical industry-specific processes on one common global system, eliminating many current standalone regional applications. Merchandising, production, sales, distribution centre and finance teams will all have a coordinated approach, which should improve the firm's ability to deliver new and innovative products.
  • RFID helps streamline inventory management
    The use of RFID solutions can help retailers streamline inventory management and reduce shrink and theft. A jeans wall using Seeonic's inventory management system comprising its SightWare electronic module, Seeniq software platform and UPM's RFID UHF ShortDipole and Web tags, showed how employees receive replenishment alerts, ensuring that top-selling items are quickly replaced to avoid out-of-stocks. In addition, they can consult the online analytics dashboard to analyse which inventory is currently displayed and which goods have been removed, using real-time data to fine-tune purchasing, merchandising and replenishment strategies at the store and item level.