MasterCard infographic: The I Factor: How Consumers are Driving Retail Innovation

According to new research released this week from MasterCard, retailers across Europe predict the mobile phone will overtake the physical store, website and call center, as the single most important communication channel with customers by 2020.

Customers are coming into stores with 21st Century kit, the cloud in a handheld device, and retailers are using till systems from the 1980s. The arms race has really switched to the consumers now.

These words of Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, really hit home when I read them the other day in our new report, #ifactor. Were seeing something of a revolution in the retail sector. Today, the consumer really is in the driving seat: one in three retailers that we surveyed for our report named customer empowerment as a leading driver of change in the industry.

But what does this mean for retailers? Clearly many are ramping up their investment in technology, with the priorities being contactless payment and technologies that enhance e- and m- commerce. But many feel hostage to the next game-changing technology, which is hindering their confidence in how to invest.

Despite the rapid pace of change, its opening up a fantastic opportunity for retailers to get closer to customers. Being multi (or omni) channel isnt just about making sure you have a presence online and offline. Its about finding ways to leverage the likes of one-on-one loyalty schemes or social commerce to help enhance the customer experience in this new environment.

And this plays out in our report where many of those questioned said offering a personalised service is vital in the fight to retain customer loyalty and grow market share. The challenge for retailers is how to deliver on all these customer expectations whilst also being focused on their core business. Through our strategic partnerships approach at MasterCard, we are working with retailers and other partners such as Facebook and iZettle, to deliver this new technology and ensure retailers arent diverted from making sales.

Whatever the next game changing technology might be, no-one can argue that its an exciting time for retailers and we are looking forward to hearing, at WRC, how retailers are facing up to this omnichannel future.

Read the slide presentation at: