Guest Column | June 5, 2013

Mobile Marketing For SMB Retailers

By Mike Poldino, Vice President of Data Capture Solutions, Motorola Solutions

According to comScore’s January 2013 U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market Share, there are approximately 130 million smartphone users in the United States today and four out of five of them use their devices to browse retail sites, research products and make purchases every single day. As consumers become more familiar and comfortable with using their smartphones for these types of activities, it is anticipated that the use of mobile coupons will also rise.  Juniper Research’s Mobile Coupons Strategies, Opportunities & Forecasts 2012-2017 study states that more than 10 billion mobile coupons will be redeemed in 2013 – representing a 50 percent increase over last year. Juniper also predicts that mobile coupon redemption rates could reach 10 percent globally by 2017 compared to the less than 1 percent redemption rate typically seen in traditional coupons today.

It’s no secret that large, multi-national businesses are driving these numbers today, but as consumers become more comfortable and adept at using their mobile devices to look for deals, they will be open to mobile marketing from the small businesses they frequent right in their own neighborhoods.

A complete mobile strategy can help a small business increase brand presence in its local geographic area, attract new customers and regularly reward loyal customers all at a fraction of the cost of what it may be spending currently on more traditional forms of advertising. 

However, there is one major problem that needs to be solved before we see mobile marketing more widely adopted and trickle down to more small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB). For small- and mid-sized business owners, the obstacle lies in the implementation of these solutions as most need help adopting and implementing a mobile marketing strategy. The concept of creating a mobile-friendly web site with a mobile application that will enable them to engage with their customers, create a uniquely personalized experience and drive traffic to their store is unfamiliar. For the business owner wearing multiple hats, the task appears daunting.

This is where the opportunity exists for value-added resellers (VARs) looking to expand their businesses beyond the traditional hardware sales. By helping businesses navigate these unfamiliar mobile waters to expand their traditional marketing mix, VARs have the opportunity to increase their revenues. Through the development of a true solutions-focused offering that includes point-of-sale (POS) hardware and software as well as licensing fees from mobile application support, VARs can maintain their trusted advisor status and expand their revenue opportunities.

There are hundreds of ISVs and developers who are creating mobile applications targeted at retail and services businesses (such as dry cleaners and salons) and many realize the potential of targeting the SMB space. But most lack the access that more traditional VARs have to these customers. By partnering with mobile developers, VARs can create a complete package and guide the customer through the process -- ensuring the seamless integration of both hardware and software.

It’s quite likely that the new mobile offering will require refreshed hardware to support the mobile strategy. Perhaps mobile coupons or a mobile loyalty program is just the push a small business owner needs to upgrade his or her POS systems. And since mobile coupons cannot be surrendered, it’s probable that a barcode scanner that can read mobile barcodes will be required. Depending on the type of barcode generated in the mobile coupon, this could be a linear imager or a 2D array imager. In some cases, it might be the first barcode scanner the customer has ever required. 

Every VAR selling into the SMB retail or services space should be looking at mobile marketing either as a door opener to engage new customers or as an opportunity to revisit conversations with existing customers. There is untapped potential for mobile marketing on Main Street. The VAR that puts together this complete solution offering with an easily understandable ROI for its customers will be set up for longer-term success.