Thursday, July 01, 2010

New Mobile Retail Report Rolls Out Minus Surprises. But Watch Out for Cramming.

On the same day I had to call my wireless carrier to complain about cramming, results of the first-ever SORO Survey were released. That would be today.

SORO – stands for State of Retailing Online – comes from the Digital Retail Industry and, a forum that gives retail executives a place to share information,insights and intelligence about online and multichannel retailing. SORO 2010 covers interactive marketing, social media and mobile.

Join the group here, get access to the study. It breaks out results not only by category (apparel, accessories and footwear; beauty and personal care; general merchandize; home; and sporting goods and accessories); but also by company type (multichannel vs pureplay), size and Web selling tenure. However, a membership costs 2,750 smackeroos. Frankly I think you get as much help from the HiMA if you're really on the cutting edge of retail marketing.

I have now read various reports about SORO 2010 on the Web and the topline results don't appear surprising to me. For instance, US retailers implemented social marketing initiatives that included social network pages, microblogs, and customer ratings and reviews, among others. The industry's “anticipated investments going forward center on further leveraging customer/user generated content.” Whoa! Big news if you've been lost on a desert island for the last few seasons.

Yet there's a slight rumble for the attentive: mobile retailing is another significant focus for online sellers. Lots of companies are still developing their mobile strategy but the survey respondents have big plans for “functionality” for this emerging channel. I think this means retailers are going to be adding mobile capability.

Which brings us to cramming, “a major rip-off in the 1990s that involved placing unauthorized charges on telephone bills” (according to Consumer Reports). Cellphones are increasingly used as payment devices – think charitable contributions for Haiti relief. Look crosseyed at your phone and you can end up with all kinds of little charges on your bill, from “apps” such as voice mail and charges for online games to service subscriptions for services you never ordered.

You'll not have a clue these are on your bill unless you check it every month. Neither of my two cellphones have ever been used for any kind of online app, yet three little monthly charges appeared on this month's invoice as if by magic. (Fortunately, my carrier is extremely helpful in getting rid of these damned things.)

SORO 2010 affirms that cellphones will be increasingly used for retail purposes. So advancing technology fuels marketing programs. Which power more technological applications. Which then leave us open to increased fraud, of the death-of-ten-thousand-cuts variety.

While I'm pushing my colorful virtual shopping cart down the crowded virtual aisle of my virtual classic aloha shirt store, I won't know whether to laugh or cry or text a complaint to the FTC.

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