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Warburg Pincus exec says mobile gives traditional retailers fighting chance

retail

Mobile disruptions

NEW YORK – A Warburg Pincus executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2014 urged retailers to step up their in-store and online mobile marketing initiatives to win sales.

According to the executive’s presentation — “Warburg Pincus: A Private Equity Firm Looks at Mobile Investment Opportunities” — the company is interested in a variety of mobile investments, from early-stage investments to late-stage opportunities. Specifically, the executive spoke about the investment opportunities that are available in the retail space as the momentum behind mobile commerce continues to grow.

“What mobile does for brick and mortar stores faced with showrooming, which traditional ecommerce behind a stationary desktop computer didn’t do, is offer retailers the opportunity to engage with a prospective shopper on his or her mobile device and facilitate a transaction – thereby giving retailers a fighting chance.” said Dinesh Moorjani, executive in-residence at Warburg Pincus, New York.

"I don’t think of mobile, ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores in retail as three mutually exclusive channels,” he said. “Ecommerce retailers are not sitting idle, avoiding mobile. Brick-and-mortar retailers are not avoiding app development either. They are using mobile channels to engage the mobile app ecosystem and acquire users with smart mobile marketing techniques and then position themselves to capture a potential customer.”

Tapping retail’s opportunity
Despite some of the limitations of shopping on smartphones and tablets, consumers are increasingly making smartphones and tablets the first place that they choose to shop from.

At the same time, the merchandising opportunities can be significant in helping retailers better tailor products and content towards specific groups of consumers. The sheer convenience and access of mobile will push the medium to eventually overtake ecommerce, per Mr. Moorjani. This includes price comparison, showrooming, instant gratification and quick deliveries.

While some retailers may view mobile as a threat for bricks-and-mortar retailers, the medium can also be used strategically to enhance the shopping experience, resulting in lower return rates, greater customer service and stronger loyalty.

For instance, in-store technologies such as ibeacons help marketers understand more about a shopper’s purchase intent, demographic and an identity via an opt-in to deliver experiences towards specific groups of consumers. 

Mobile and digital have also widened experimentation with new revenue models, which also open up new investment opportunities.

Take Amazon, for example. Amazon’s subscription-based Amazon Prime service justifies the subscription price for consumers because they are able to get the value back over the course of one year.

Similarly, Netflix’s push into original content is pinned down to a subscription model.

“The idea of producing content was traditionally supported through advertising revenue streams, but businesses are exploring new revenue paradigms," Mr. Moorjani said.


Mr. Moorjani on stage

Changing industries
In addition to retail, Mr. Moorjani pointed out the healthcare and education industries as other industries that mobile has uprooted.

For example, new wearables, applications and devices have spawned a shift towards consumers taking a bigger responsibility for their health.

The number of fitness and tracking devices continue to grow, and with that marketers and health care professionals have a trove of new data.

Education programs are also changing rapidly as a result of mobile and digital. This includes programs for distance learning, continuing education and kid’s education.

The interesting part of this, per Mr. Moorjani, is that mobile allows people to have more incremental access to education.

Growing device ownership
Tablets in general also continue to grow as an opportunity for marketers. According to research presented from Forrester Research during the session, tablet ownership in Western Europe will grow 55 percent from 2012 to 2017.

While the number of devices each consumer owns is only expected to grow, the functions of the devices are overlapping.

Additionally, worldwide spread of mobile devices globally is helping to better connect businesses and consumers. In addition to an increase in investment dollars, the number of investment deals are also on the uptick.

Per Mr. Moorjani, Warburg Pincus’ has been historically strong in growth equity investments. Although investments frequently exceed $50 million, the majority of mobile deals may require less capital.

“Mobile is effectively transcending geographies and most importantly, it’s becoming the bridge itself,” Mr. Moorjani said.

“As we think about this bridge, it’s the transformational experiences that the bridge delivers to consumers and businesses alike, which gives rise to the investment opportunities in mobile,” he said.

Final Take
Dinesh Moorjani is executive in-residence at Warburg Pincus, New York

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Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer. Reach her at lauren@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Strategy, mobile, mobile marketing, Warburg Pincus, Dinesh Moorjani

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