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Video: Prioritise mobile to avoid a 'tough Christmas', Google director tells retailers

Retailers must ensure their mobile offer is spot on to avoid a “tough Christmas” as more and more fashion searches are conducted via smartphones, Google’s UK retail sales director has warned.

Speaking to Drapers at the UKFT Rise FastFWD Fashion event at RBS bank’s head office in London yesterday, Martijn Bertisen said mobile is increasingly becoming the dominant platform for fashion searches and retailers need to make sure they have a seamless offer.

“The biggest impact [retailers] can achieve [through technology] is by getting mobile absolutely right. There are still so many companies that don’t have a clear mobile strategy or a good mobile experience and are not investing in mobile marketing or development.

“From a Google perspective the amount of searches we are getting through smartphones for fashion is already nearing 40% and the estimation is that this Christmas the majority of searches are going to come from smartphones. So getting your mobile phone proposition absolutely right will be your biggest win and I fear that without it Christmas will be pretty tough for many retailers and fashion brands.”

Martijn Bertisen at Google

He added m-commerce is expected to be the same size in 2018 as total ecommerce is today.

“With consumers increasingly interconnected through devices these consumers are changing very rapidly; we are constantly connected to the internet 24/7, we use our smartphones something like 221 times a day. That’s phenomenal engagement and connectivity through those devices. It’s changing the way we buy and consume,” he later told the conference.

He explained there are currently 10 billion connected devices in the world, and by 2020 there will be 50 billion.

“Everything we have seen to date is really just the beginning. [Technological advances] will accelerate as the decades go on. Change has never been this fast before and will never be this slow again,” he added. “We will have more access, faster access, more devices and more connected devices. Everything around us will be connected online before too long.”

As an example he said the chairs the audience were sat on would one day be connected to them and be able to tell each individual when to get up and move around if they haven’t had enough activity that day.

Bertisen used a footwear retailer in Guatemala called Meat Pack as an example of how effective mobile apps can be. The retailer’s Hijack app used GPS to identify when shoppers entered a rival store, triggering 99-second-long discounts at Meat Pack to be sent directly to their phones. With the time correlating to the level of the discount, shoppers had to rush back to make the purchase. Some 600 customers were successfully ‘hijacked’ in just one week.

“We have to get better at suggesting information as and when it’s relevant and assisting when customers are requesting information from us,” he said. “We have barely started providing information for people where they want it.”

He also demonstrated the use of Google Glass in retail, taking a picture of a book to retrieve product information.

Technology, he added, can help personalisation and draw together the physical and the digital world. To demonstrate this he used the example of Google Hangouts run at Topman on Oxford Street, where shoppers used their Google accounts to log in from home for a personal shopper experience with celebrity Nick Grimshaw.

“You can’t predict what the future will look like, no one can predict that, but as a company and brand it’s about testing and constantly exploring new ideas and finding a way to do that within your resources, “ he said. “We have Google X [a facility working on major technological advances] and I challenge you to think what your x is as a company.”

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