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Google Wallet and NFC: A sign of what's to come in mobile?

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22nd Aug 2011
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Sri Sharma looks at the emerging trends in mobile and explains how to leverage mobile as part of the sales channel mix to maximise success.

The combination of improving smartphone and tablet hardware, ubiquitous connectivity and affordable pricing has undoubtedly had an impact on the volume of mobile search undertaken by consumers. And, as near field communication (NFC) technology becomes more commonplace, mobile phones will essentially become ‘mobile wallets.’ This will enable consumers to buy goods in-store with a swipe of their phone or online without having to enter any of their credit card details, which will drive m-commerce and mobile search forward at an exponential rate.
Google has backed this concept with the introduction of Google Wallet, which enables brands to strengthen their multichannel offering. For example, a consumer can search for a particular product, follow a paid search advert to an online offer, save the voucher to their “wallet” and then redeem it in-store via a swipe of their mobile phone. This represents significant opportunity beyond the use of promotional tactics, offering a simple but effective way to implement and track a multichannel offering.
The evolution of tracking
Call tracking, where brands can monitor which consumers are engaging with the brand via click-to-call technology, is already available and driving significant returns for many companies – particularly in sectors where the products are high involvement purchases. This uplift is the result of being able to monitor the contribution that telephone sales make and then optimise online presence to deliver more of the activities that drive consumers from online search to making a phone call.
The advent of Google Wallet enables brands to extend the tracking process to identify not only where their online presence is driving offline telephone sales but also where online presence is leading to offline in-store sales.
Revenue rewards
Revenue from paid search on mobile and tablets has been increasing at a steady rate as more brands develop mobile-ready sites. Indeed, as illustrated in the graph below, Net Media Planet has seen a 170% growth in revenue from mobile paid search over the past three years, which is continuing to increase at a faster pace. However, the biggest gain seen across Net Media Planet’s retail customer base, is the impact of mobile and tablets on average order value – search on mobile and tablet devices result in higher average order values.
Add to this the fact that (as shown below) driving traffic on mobiles and tablets has a lower cost-per-click (CPC) than on desktop, and offers huge potential for growth, it is surprising that so few companies have invested significantly in m-commerce. It is cheaper, more effective and can result in higher average order values - it is an opportunity that retailers should be grasping with both hands.

The benefits of technology advances, such as Google Wallet, in driving consumers from online to in-store are clear. However, there is also an opportunity to use the advances in mobile to increase engagement with consumers when in-store. For example, as more brands adopt it, NFC could be used in conjunction with search to enable customers to swipe an item in-store using their mobile to then obtain further information and customer reviews on that product. Some consumers already engage in in-store search but NFC will simplify the process significantly, which will undoubtedly drive interaction levels.
The technology is now in place to enable brands to quickly and easily tailor their offering to make it more effective across mobile and tablets as well on desktop. The challenge now is for brands to invest in understanding their customers, how they search and which channels they engage across. Meet this challenge and your brand will see phenomenal success in 2011 and beyond. Get it wrong and your brand could be playing perpetual catch up.
Sri Sharma is managing director at Net Media Planet.

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