What Is the Smartphone’s Role In the Omnichannel Environment?

The vision of omnichannel retail continues growing brighter by the day. However, it’s not without its flaws. With multiple channels of purchasing goods, criminals now have more attack vectors that allow them to defraud customers and financial institutions. It’s important for banks to stay afoot of this concept’s development, as any new trend brings challenges, especially as it relates to fraud detection. The most significant channel to consider is the smartphone, which is an increasingly important part of everyday life. While it’s hard to know at this point how criminals can use smartphones to defraud, understanding the devices’ role in omnichannel retail can help businesses predict where they’re likely to strike.

Smartphones as a research tool

The omnichannel experience may not necessarily involve any purchases at this point in time. Marketing consultancy eMarketer presented a study in which mobile will only account for 1.6 percent of all retail sales in the U.S. in 2015. Further, only 14 percent of respondents during the 2014 holiday shopping season intended to use their phones to make a purchase. However, that doesn’t mean they cannot play an indirect role in some fashion. More often, smartphones have a position of helping consumers making an informed purchase.


In essence, the smartphone becomes a research tool for any shopper. The roles vary, from merely looking up the nearest retailer for a specific item to getting second opinions on gifts from friends and family. Some can take this further by looking up product availability in different stores if there’s an immediate need for something. One area that can be of particular concern is seeking out coupons. Customers are always on the lookout for deals on the goods they want. Retailers and vendors take advantage of this situation either through releasing coupon codes through third parties or local apps. While these coupons can help retailers gain valuable customers, they also serve as lead generation, especially when the coupons request personal information. This data presents a possible avenue of fraudulent activity, which is something banks should pay attention to at this time.


The lines between online and offline blur

While the number of purchases made by smartphones remains small at this time, its potential is great. Mobile marketing firm dialogtech noted that the smartphone’s research capacity is weakening the barriers between online and offline. For example, one particular tactic consumers deploy is showrooming, where they would examine and possibly try out a product in a brick-and-mortar store, only to purchase it later at an online retailer. The thinking behind this is usually based on the price factor.


On the other hand, the reverse practice also occurs. A customer researches a product online through different retailers, then purchases it via smartphone at a retailer that offers in-store pickup so he or she can retrieve it later that day. Convenience plays a major factor in this practice, since demand for the item may trump its price. Both of these vectors present promise for stores, but they can also serve as a potential attack vectors through unsecure phones. Banks should take interest and care in how the smartphone evolves as a purchasing tool for consumers.

Bina Mirchandani
Bina Mirchandani

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