A Question of Trust

The rise of mobile and the internet have had a considerable effect on the world of retail today. With the number of smartphones globally surpassing the 1bn mark in October 2012, it comes as no surprise that, according to research from Deloitte, half of shoppers say they have bought products from a mobile app, with 57 per cent having checked for stock using a mobile device. As a result, retailers are now racing ahead to embrace new payment technologies, including mobile services, as part of a wider multichannel customer interaction strategy.

Mobile shopping is clearly here to stay. However, the benefits of purchasing on the go are not just limited to the consumer looking to find the best deal. The rise of smartphones has created an important lifeline, connecting the shopper to the store, and opening up new buying opportunities beyond an initial visit. Apps and incentives that complement shoppers’ experiences and integrate with retail campaigns are vital to engaging consumers and generating greater loyalty.

While smartphones may be willingly used by consumers looking to compare purchases, or even buy on the move, a recent survey into mobile attitudes and use conducted by Ipsos MORI found that retailers may still have some way to go before engaging all demographics via mobile. The survey found that only 30 per cent of British consumers admitted to trusting major retailers to protect their personal information. This indicates that retailers looking to truly capitalise on this new tool must tread carefully in order to first build this customer trust.

Consumer confidence
Another piece of Ipsos MORI research found that 58 per cent of the British consumers surveyed had purchased products and services online (excluding groceries), suggesting consumer confidence is building when it comes to shopping online, leaving the door open for mobile devices to follow.

These findings highlight just how important trust is in the customer-retailer relationship. In particular, the findings of the mobile study revealed that consumers are particularly wary of storing credit/debit cards on their mobile phone to enable them to pay without cards.

However, for those who do trust their retailer, 46 per cent said they would be happy to share their location via their mobile in order to receive relevant rewards and offers, and 54 per cent said they would be happy to house their loyalty cards on their mobile to collect and redeem points without cards. Effectively, if your customers have high levels of trust in your brand, they will be keen to interact with you, regardless of channel. Give these customers the option and ease of accessing your services via their mobile devices and you’ll see a very encouraging return on investment.

Engaging experiences
If retailers want to stay one step ahead of their competitors and capitalise on the increasing uptake of all payment activities, embracing new payment and loyalty technologies is vital. To benefit fully however, retailers must take care to build a trusted consumer relationship, partnering with businesses that value and respect the wealth of data that can be collected and brought to bear to deliver an engaging customer experience.

Allowing mobile to be adopted initially as a customer interaction tool to drive traffic in store and online is a key step to achieving loyalty among customers. Only by taking this type of approach will retailers improve this trust level and move beyond the initial customer apprehension that is typically associated with new technology. Retailers must not forget when adopting these new solutions that loyalty schemes and payments pivot around trust, with customer willingness to participate directly relating to perceived data sensitivity.

Honey Kirtley is head of insight and loyalty at The Logic Group