Smartphones Increasingly Affect the Retail Sector

Retailers, like financial institutions, are constantly seeking ways to make it easier for people to give them money. Which is exactly why retailers are following the lead of financial institutions by creating applications and services that enable customers to make transactions via smartphones.

Mobile retail and mobile payments are a growing source of revenue for retailers. One study shows that by 2014, more than 340 million global mobile users will use smartphones to make mobile payments. While the revenue generated in 2010 by mobile payments was roughly $32 billion, some estimates indicate that such transactions will bring in more than $245 billion by 2014.

Currently, retailers are using SMS alerts, coupons, product ratings and reviews, store locators, bar codes, location-based apps and social media feeds at each stage of the consumer purchase. And it's not just a small number of retailers that are turning to such solutions: A recent study shows that about 52 percent of U.S. retailers already operate fully functioning mobile sites, while 33 percent showcase a select group of products to mobile customers. Also popular are store locator services, with about 26 percent of U.S. retailers already providing them for smartphones.

And as interest in mobile retail and mobile payments continues to grow, service providers are in the unique position of creating new services and partnering with existing vendors to create revenue, build customer loyalty and decrease churn.

These are some of the findings in the latest Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider report, "Service Providers Cash In on Mobile Retail Opportunities."

The report examines the mobile retail market that exists today and how it is expected to develop over the next two years. It examines opportunities that service providers have in the market, including areas with the most growth potential for the next 24 months and what service providers should be doing to take advantage of the market. It includes a comparative analysis of solutions available in the market. It also examines the geographic landscape of the market for service providers, challenges the industry presents and trends expected in the mobile retail vertical.

As service providers build out models that address mobile retail and mobile payments, they should consider several factors. First, they have the opportunity to become the de facto payment option for unbanked and underbanked customers that generally have mobile phones but lack the ability or finances to get credit cards.

Service providers should be working now to develop products that work across all types of payment scenarios, including near-field communications (NFC). Additionally, they should be partnering with vendors and retailers that are already leading the mobile retail and mobile payments markets, working to gain competitive advantage over other service providers and cementing their services as quickly and early as possible with consumers.

— Denise Culver, Research Analyst, Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider

The report, Service Providers Cash In On Mobile Retail Opportunities, is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Mobile Networks Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/mobile-networks.

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