This article was originally written for, and appeared in, Fashion’s Collective (www.fashionscollective.com)
The mobile (r)evolution is upon us. Instantaneous access to information, social connectedness, location awareness, personalization, utility, efficiency – these characteristics shape the inherent value proposition of mobile devices as natural extensions of our human selves. Our lives are inextricably tied to these extraordinarily powerful gadgets – our address book, phone directory, pictures of family and friends, our social network, our tastes and preferences, our mobile wallet, and our identity. In this highly fragmented new retail frontier of mobile, from the ubiquity of the mobile web to branded, content-focused rich applications, the fashion retail segment is inundated with myriad philosophies as to what this new channel can and should represent for their brands.
As mobile evolves beyond its infancy stage, however, a consumer utility-driven evolution to Mobile 2.0 will provide definition for this new precipice, and for the readiness it will symbolize in a world where leisure time is considered the greatest luxury.
The less that we as fashion marketers limit these devices, intelligent inanimate objects designed to stand alone as a potential fourth channel, the more that we are able to conceive imaginative issues that these technological extensions of shoppers’ identities can solve in order to enhance the brand experience. This will allow us to more effectively cater to our legions of loyalists in a manner befitting their value and consistent with the luxuriousness of the brand. Blurring the lines of demarcation between the in-boutique magnetism of Fashion labels and the greater engagement capabilities created by mobile devices and applications are at the core of Mobile 2.0. Making it difficult to comprehend where one occurrence ends and another begins in a precise, orchestrated client effort, this represents the most clear and present opportunity for mobile to make an immediately positive and lasting impact on consumers’ encounters with the brand.
Mobile, as an intensely personal, highly relevant interactive medium, epitomizes the ideal instrument to adequately bridge the chasm that e-commerce has been unable to navigate for many fashion brands. The basic disconnection from the principles of the physical brand experience in a tethered e-commerce environment has always been at the core of brands’ hesitance to venture into its realm, and is also at the crux of the strategic complexities with integrating the channel suitably for the values of the brand. As a unique considered channel, mobile represents a far greater opportunity than simply serving as a scaled-down version of a retailer’s e-Commerce presence. The realization of Mobile 2.0 will be predicated on leveraging these profoundly intimate, highly relevant mobile extensions of shoppers’ personas to design solutions that weave together all existing retail channel touch points into a rich tapestry of utility and luxury.
From in-boutique to e-commerce, from print advertising to print and digital catalog, mobile is unique as a channel in its ability to fasten all consumer platforms to a common medium and augment shoppers’ experiences with brands, regardless of how they prefer to engage with them. For fashion retail, where the in-boutique encounter is the heart of what makes brands majestic and desired, the mobile medium and its ability to serve as a driving force in enhancing that occurrence should be at the epicenter of any thoughtful multi-channel retail strategy.
Given the illustrated viability of the mobile marketplace witnessed in 2010, in coming posts, we will begin to examine the mobile approaches and tactics that are most effective for the fashion and luxury industries.