IBM announces new m-commerce tools for retail

IBM is hoping to make it easier for consumers to take advantage of new retail channels. The company announced new software that it says will help customers more easily browse, shop and buy products through mobile devices and social networks. The software is part of its Smarter Commerce initiative.

As part of today's news, IBM is highlighting new client engagements with leading retailers to help them capitalize on rapid shifts in today's digital marketplace to better meet customer demands, improve performance and appeal to new digital age consumers.

IBM's software for Smarter Commerce will provide a richer shopping experience to consumers through native Android and Apple-based applications for e-commerce, according to the press release. The applications will let online retailers develop their own storefronts on mobile devices including iPads, iPhones and Android-based smartphones.

Along with capabilities to create virtual storefronts tailored to the larger touchscreens on tablet devices, IBM's software also enables new location-based marketing capabilities that target customers based on their location and let potential customers know about discounts or offers when they're close to a retailer's offline stores.

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Additonally, IBM's Smarter Commerce solution has expanded support for Facebook, letting retailers use social media activity to deliver more targeted offers and campaigns.

Consumers want personalized shopping

IBM said its new software reflects changing consumer expectations for retailers. The company released its Smarter Consumer Survey, a new report featuring data collected from more than 28,000 consumers. The survey found that consumers are looking for a more personalized shopping experience and are even willing to share personal information with trusted retailers to educate those brands on how they want to be marketed to.

"Today, consumers trust the opinions of other consumers more than companies, prompting retailers to rethink their operations and embrace Smarter Commerce," said Craig Hayman, GM of Industry Solutions at IBM.

Hayman said the new Smarter Commerce solution is intended to let retailers deepen customer relationships.

"With mobile and social networks, consumers have the power to make or break a brand in an instant," Hayman said. "Winning their loyalty in the seconds it takes to search the competition is the new imperative."

Among the data included in the new survey, 75 percent of consumers said they are willing to provide their media usage to retailers. Seventy three percent said they would provide demographic data. Additionally, 61 percent said they would be willing to share name and address, 59 percent said they would share lifestyle data, and 56 percent would volunteer their location to retailers to provide a more targeted shopping experience.

IBM said that retailers are beginning to recognize this shift. In a separate study, the company said a majority of 1,700 chief marketing officers surveyed said they see a critical and permanent shift in the way their brands engage with customers.

IBM also announced it is working with several major retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Lucky Brand Jeans and Advance Auto Parts to meet these new consumer demands.

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