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Retailers can use mobile technology to communicate with customers - as long as they don’t become phone pests

A recent survey by mobile marketing agency Sponge showed that more than two thirds of fashion retailers have used mobile phone technology in some form to communicate with customers.

While fashion retailers are aware of mobile as a new shopping channel, the majority are utilising it for marketing purposes or as an information feed rather than a transactional route to market. Although this can be an effective method to drive brand awareness, footfall to a store or traffic to a website, Nick Gillett, managing director at digital agency Tangent One warns: “Consumers have an intensely personal relationship with their mobiles and over-messaging, sending non-urgent material or, even worse, sending unsolicited SMS messages can cause real damage to customer relationships.”

In a poll of 27 fashion retailers by Sponge, only two had a dedicated mobile site, although 55% of those polled said mobile websites were something they would consider within the next year. Ecommerce provider Drivebusiness developed a transactional mobile (m-commerce) app for young fashion retailer All Saints. Dan Webster, online marketing executive at Drivebusiness, says: “Within a month of us launching the app, it accounted for 4.4% of total sales.”

Aggregate site ShopStyle has a similar success story, according to European director Shannon Edwards: “The apps [for iPhone and iPad] drive more than 4% of our overall clicks to merchants.”

Retailers without a mobile presence can use social networking to get in on the act. Says Webster: “Checking Facebook and Twitter while on the move is very popular, so any commercial messages can be shared through these channels.”

So whether it’s through a mobile app, a mobile-friendly transactional site or a presence within the social networking environment, mobile technology looks certain to grow in importance for retailers over the next 12 months.

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