Mobile tech penetrates retail

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The importance of harnessing mobile technology in business is irrefutable, says Anton Gaylard, executive of value-added services at UCS.

According to Gaylard, the mobile-to-consumer space is important for businesses to utilise, as mobile phones have become an integral part of everyday life.

“Research shows that people carry their mobile phones for an average of 19 hours per day... the distinction between work and personal use has become blurred.”

The penetration of mobile phones in society is rising and e-tailing through cellphones has given the retailer and consumer more choice than ever, he adds.

Miguel Picao, business development director at Tlantic, a software and services provider for the retail market, says every company is looking for 'that killer app' which can boost their business.

Gaylard says UCS is trying to meet this challenge of getting everyone aligned and integrated in-store and at point-of-sale through killer apps.

Through Java, mobi-sites, USSD and SIM technologies, companies can exploit cellphone usage to cut costs on the retail side, he says. This is because mobile creates one standard payment and advertising method, and makes life easier for the consumer via mobile payments, Gaylard adds.

The fact that Africa has more than 100% penetration in the cellphone sector makes a strong case for businesses wanting to move to mobile, because investors are prepared to put money behind something that would reduce costs and attract loyal consumers, according to Gaylard.

Frank Lenselink, a member of the supervisory board at NeoMedia Europe, says Europe is already employing mobile technology to make retail easier.

He says through 2D bar coding systems, which provide ease of use and mobility, retailers and customers are a few clicks away from making transactions without having to carry cards or cash.

Lenselink notes that people need and want to get info that is useful immediately, and that mobile creates engaging opportunities for an interactive experience between the brand and consumer. He believes this kind of technology puts control in the hands of the consumer, literally and figuratively.

“The 2D code is resilient and secure,” says Lenselink. “It is a fast means of access which enables retailers to integrate all retail solutions,” such as advertising, point-of-sale, customer database and loyalty programmes.”

He adds that if retailers control these components in the cloud, they can be integrated into retailers' existing business intelligence.

It is expected that this kind of technology will be available to provide a consistent high-quality user experience by 2011, concludes Lenselink.

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