From shopping to socializing, consumers are demanding faster, and easier transactions and connections, and retailers and developers are listening. Cisco’s latest Mobile Visual Networking Index finds global consumer mobile data traffic grew an astounding 74% in 2012. It’s no wonder then; mobility is changing the way we buy things and the way companies sell them. That means for many brick and mortar businesses, the cash register, like the desktop, is headed for the history museum. As you’ve no doubt noticed, more retailers are moving to purchase systems that allow them to sell anywhere, anytime, on handheld devices.
Your Phone Is Your Computer
Gary Goldfarb, the CEO of Flint Mobile says the smart phone, has become the new personal computer.
“If you look at the trends, the number of freelance businesses in the U.S. is up by 70% in the last few years, the number of businesses that are operating out of the home and out of nontraditional storefronts is hugely on the rise, so the future of mobility is the phone becoming your sole commerce console,” says Goldfarb. He says with something as everyday critical to business as payments and customer engagement, you have to enable people to do it strictly through the phone. His company’s solution is an app for retailers to accept payments using a phone or tablet’s camera to scan a credit card number, requiring no dongle, or swiper, and no additional hardware.
“The idea that there's additional stuff or additional hardware that's required, is totally outdated. That's old-style,” says Goldfarb.
His company is competing in a growing market with the likes of more well-known companies like Square and Intuit, both of which function with a card reader. Flint’s app, like many others, also builds a customer engagement platform into the mobile experience, so a retailer can do things like tie in retail interaction to a customer’s Facebook page, if they opt in.
Says Goldfarb, “Small businesses need to leverage everything they can out of their existing customers. They can't do it if they don't have any information about them. This (app) allows them to richly and deeply mine the data of what they have been doing out and about in the field all day.”
Find Your Favorites, or Let Them Find You
The new world of retail also includes more things customized to you. Shopping apps like the location based Elephanti, described by some as the loyalty card version of Foursquare, track your location and preferences. When you are near something you’ve liked in the past, you will be alerted. Say you like shoe stores, or sandwich shops, and you’ve noted those two items in your preferences, Elephanti will track the best route for you to find those retailers wherever you happen to be. Elephanti is not alone in this market. A growing number of retailers and apps are offering these types of location based services. It’s a trend Gartner projects will reach widespread adoption within the next two years.
Play and Share Faster
The future of mobile means sharing your memories more quickly, and at a higher quality. Right now sharing your pictures on Facebook and Instagram greatly reduces the quality of the images. That’s where companies like Beamr are finding a niche. Beamr recently launched an iPhone app that allows users to share high resolution pictures more easily, without reducing the quality of the image. The company says the app uses technology called JPEGmini to deliver pictures at original quality three times faster than any other app, saving you time, data costs and battery life. Beamr Ceo, Dror Gill says, “Every media file going over the network is optimized, we have found a way to make transfer of media more efficient.”
Speaking of being efficient, you don’t need to wait for uploading or downloading with the new app, QuikIO. You can instantly stream all your media between your computer and your iPhone or iPad, and you don’t have to worry about data storage. Once you download the app on your computer and mobile device, the service allows you to share pictures, music and videos between the two, or with a friend’s device. The company also just announced a new version that works with Apple TV. Michael Chen, QuikIO CEO says, “The advantage to the computer user is that it’s simple, quick and easy. They don't have to upload to the cloud they don't have concern about compatibility of different files. It's just install and play.”
Less friction, and faster connections seem to be the common thread for consumers in our mobile world, and the trend will only accelerate. Cisco research predicts by 2017 there will be 5.2 billion mobile users. You can read more about the future, in Cisco’s latest mobile VNI.
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