StreetHub Mandeep SinghWith the Mobile Retail Summit taking place tomorrow, we’ve been talking to some of our speakers to find out more about how important mobile is to their business. Next up, Mandeep Singh, CEO and co-founder of click-and-collect local boutique network, Streethub.

DM: So Mandeep, tell us what youll be speaking about at the Mobile Retail Summit please. 

MS: Sure, Ill be talking about how consumer behaviour when shopping offline has been completely revolutionised by online – and in fact is having a far bigger impact on retail than eCommerce. The smartphone has been at the forefront of this change – at your fingertips you can find out in seconds what shops are around you, what they sell, when theyre open and how to get there – and even (with StreetHub and some other retailers) have reserved the item before arriving at the store. Ill also talk about the rapid growth of click and collect, but really it is a manifestation of the wider trend to research online and buy offline.

DM: How has mobile impacted your business model?

MS: Its been huge – we wouldnt exist without it! When we were founded in early 2013, we knew we would be focused on mobile from day one, and mobile has only gone from strength to strength since then. Mobile technology is what is allowing us to help independent retailers fight back in the face of online and larger chains.

DM: What are the biggest achievements and learnings that the company has experienced on its mobile journey?

MS: When we started StreetHub, we opted to build a mobile website first, so we could iterate and experiment and see what customers really wanted in an iPhone app. Even this was insufficient – we then tested several prototypes with our customers and users, in-person, to really understand what we needed to build.

It is much harder to iterate with a native mobile app as the code is stored locally and customers are brutal – if you dont cut the mustard, theyll delete it and never download it again. Our biggest learning was that our iPhone app experience should not simply reflect the web experience – users needed a reason to use the mobile app every day, so we built a lot more content and news into it, unlike a website, where customers are happy to simply visit when they wish to buy.

DM: What are the top three mobile retail trends you predict for the coming year?

MS: Number one is that the disconnect between mobile usage and mobile purchases will start to subside as customers get used to paying on their phones. Number two is that retail will finally begin to “close the loop” between online retail and in-store retail using mobiles, probably with beacon technology. Number three is increased personalisation.

DM: What is your main focus this year from a mobile perspective?

MS: Our key focus is the launch of our iPhone app later this month – it is the culmination of many months of hard work and research!

DM: Would you agree that retail is leading the way in mobile compared to most other industries? If so, why do you think this is?

MS: I suspect that may well be the case, along with online media. Why? Retail is a brutal, tough industry. Businesses operate on tight operating margins and unless they win on service, quality and price, consumers will vote with their feet and you will cease to exist. But that means that you need to listen to customers, and the ability to know if youre succeeding or failing every day, is probably what has made British retailers so good. In retail, the consumer is king and the minute the smartphone came along, retail had no choice but to be at the forefront of mobile, because thats what consumers want.

Mandeep Singh is speaking at 12 noon at the Mobile Retail Summit in London on Thursday, 5 June. More information here.