According to the newly released report from TNS The Impact of Digital on Growth Strategies: CMO Imperatives for 2012, mobile devices are for many Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) just another digital touch point to access the web.

Based on one-to-one interviews with CMOs from a range of international organizations, the report sheds some light on the extent to which 'digital' has and continues to dramatically overhaul how we all do business.

As the number of people who use their mobiles to access the internet increases, and the time they spend online is going up as well, there will definitely be more and more investment in mobile search advertising, mobile versions of owned websites, mobile couponing and in-store apps.

For most companies, for instance, mobile apps must first and foremost be functional, allowing consumers to search for information and make a purchase. Unquestionably, mobile is an opportunity as well as a challenge for brick-based retailers, especially as consumers see tangible benefits from being able to access coupons or information and recommendations on products and services, even when they are in-store and crucially close to the final point of purchase.

TNS’s report actually shows that globally an average of 8% of mobile users shop with their phones on a daily basis. For tablets, a significant jump to 22% has been observed, which adds evidence to the intuitive notion that the tablet is more important for commerce than either the PC or the phone. Not to mention that new mobile-based payment methods are growing in awareness in more developed markets, including couponing, near-field communications (NFC) and digital wallets. For some retailers, mobile payment could even become a real differentiator in adding value by providing, for example, the option to pay via phones to avoid check-out queues and receive other benefits.

Apple, for instance, recently announced a scheme for iOS device users, enabling them to self-scan and pay in-store. With this technology, retailers can deliver a more personalized online shopping experience that consumers are coming to expect when they go in-store. Further, customers get a chance to explore the story behind the product or the marketing via QR codes and product recognition through camera apps, which are used for this purpose, providing at the same time opportunities for retailers who arm their sales associates with mobiles so that they can check the latest information on stock levels and product information. A sales person may even be able to access information about the customer they are serving - through CRM data or a customer’s social profile - in order to deliver a more tailored recommendation.

Despite the industry press and marketing and technology conference hype, mobile is not highlighted as a major ‘head-scratcher’ for CMOs. There are some technical trials and errors anticipated, especially around mobile commerce platforms, and arguably more head-scratching will be seen amongst retailers and shopper marketing specialists. More insight into consumer mobile usage and uptake is still welcomed for CMOs as this data is often held by the telcos rather than the brands themselves. Otherwise the consensus is that mobile can slot within the broader frameworks and strategies already in play. As technology continues to innovate across areas including 3D printing, Augmented Reality, 4G, LTE mobile networks and next generation web search, there are many new opportunities for an enhanced retail experience. Mobile will be a crucial component of these trends, showing signs of particular influence at the end of the path-to-purchase, at point of sale and now also in-store.

(Extract from TNS - The Impact of Digital on Growth Strategies, CMO Imperatives for 2012, Digital Life)

By Daniela La Marca