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At NRF, mobile seen as up-and-comer with significant potential

NEW YORK ? Mobile had a significant presence at the NRF 103rd Annual Convention & Expo this week, pointing to its growing role for retailers even as feedback from the show floor suggests there is still much for retailers to learn about how to effectively leverage mobile.

Many of the biggest retailers in the industry were on hand to review the latest mobile services intended to help them connect with shoppers both in-store and online and also to sit in on the numerous sessions covering topics such as payments and how to get started in mobile.

Mobile Marketer?s Rebecca Borison asked exhibitors and attendees, ?What is the biggest mobile topic of discussion for retailers?? Here is what they had to say, in alphabetical order by company name.

Shehaam Flot, product manager of mobile and gift registry at Crate and Barrel, Chicago
That's tough because I think everything is exciting but for retailers in particular it's bridging the gap between online and offline and knowing your customer across channels.

Guillaume Vingtier, senior principal of business consulting at Infosys, New York
For mobile, right now it?s more about mobile for consumers, so apps, mobile couponing, but also mobile for store associates, to help them to be more efficient.

Most of retailers want to get mobile point of sales right. They are still not getting it. Most of them don?t have it yet. Some have it, like Sephora and stuff, but most of them do not have it. The second thing is more about getting mobile commerce capabilities.

Cezar Kolodziej, president/CEO of Iris Mobile, Chicago
Mobile is definitely the future and everyone knows it will be, however now it?s in infant stage and nobody really knows what to do yet. A lot of retailers and brands are trying to migrate online experiences to mobile space which is not the right way to think about it.

Shalini Gupta, marketing director of Iris Mobile, Chicago
I think we need to look at mobile the same way our evolution has been in the digital experience. I think it took a number of years from a digital experience perspective to understand what it meant to provide a digital user experience when you?re talking about digital touchpoints and really integrating the conversation, I think people need to do the same thing regardless of how the customer?s interacting with the brand. It?s all about touchpoints and trying to understand what information the customer needs at that particular time, whether you deliver it by brochure, by mobile, by digital, I think customers? expectations are a lot higher than they used to be. And a lot of retailers haven?t figured it out. It?s not enough to just have a mobile app, it?s not enough just to have a mobile site, you?ve got to have the right content at the right time.

Bruce Bennett, CEO of MadMobile, Tampa, FL
There?s lots of discussions about payments, very big for 2014, the mcommerce world and how that is rising in stature to ecommerce, that?s been very big for us.

Obviously the mobile numbers were up for Black Friday and Christmas so in comparison, I do think that mobile numbers are up and that?s what we?re really concentrating on.

Frank J Selinger, mid-market regional sales manager at QlikView, Newton, MA
In terms of mobility, I think the thing that I see in the retail space at a high level is the consumers? ability to access information mobily while in the store while experiencing the buying process and really retailers need to adjust to the buyers? mobility to actually shop their competitors while they could be in a bricks-and-mortar store. That?s probably something that is certainly a challenge for retailers, especially bricks-and-mortar versus the ecommerce business that continues to grow and grow. That?s the highest priority in mobility and retail.

Marco Ventura, vice president of business development at T1Visions, Charlotte, NC
There?s this shift that?s taking place, a paradigm shift that?s very important to recognize. That said, I think retailers are, the first wave of ?Oh my god showrooming is going to kill retail,? people have gotten past that, and now retailers are starting to get smarter and figuring out ways they can actually use it to their advantage.

Some of these technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy are starting to become more ubiquitous in a retail environment, and you?re able to suddenly walk into a store and engage with customers in a ways you couldn?t before. I?m really bullish on, Bluetooth energy, iBeacon and stuff is really cool.