Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Jill Puleri, Vice President, Global Retail Leader, IBM

Jill Puleri, Vice President, Global Retail Leader, IBM

By Jill Puleri

These are crucial times for brick-and-mortar retailers as they evolve to put the consumer at the center of all that they do. Those that make good decisions are going to prosper; those who don’t are going to slip to the back.

Central to retailers’ ability to remain relevant is their response to the mobile opportunity. Mobile commerce is expected grow 115 percent over the next 12 months. Though the opportunity is clear, capitalizing on it is full of complexity as retailers integrate web sites and supply chains together with the numerous mobile devices that consumers are using to shop.

Just a few years ago, many retailers were working feverishly to push out shopping applications for mobile devices. There was good reason for the rush: tens of millions of consumers are jumping on the smart-phone band wagon and using them to shop.

As it turns out, mobile apps haven’t proven to be silver bullet to the mobile commerce challenge. From an IBM survey of 26,000 consumers, we learned that they would rather access a retailer’s website than launch a shopping app.  Only 15 percent of consumers were aware that a retailer had a mobile application; just 5 percent downloaded the app and a mere 3 percent actually used it.

That’s not to say that mobile shopping isn’t gaining momentum, it’s just that consumers want to shop on their own terms and on their preferred platforms. With mobile technology enabling new and unconventional retail models at every turn, more traditional retailers are going back to basics. 

Usability and accessibility are key to closing the mobile sale. Terms like, “single click to buy” or “thumb enabled” are now top of mind when it comes to mobile strategies. Today’s consumers have more choice and little patience, so retailers now need to act and act quickly. 

I’ve spent my entire career in retail, focusing on solving my clients’ most important business challenges, and showing them the next big possibility at the intersection of their business and advanced technology. If retailers miss major shifts like mobile now, they’re at serious risk. It’s exciting, scary, complex, intense, motivating – all at the same time.


Today, Puleri was recognized as one of Consulting Magazine’s Top 25 Consultants for excellence in retail.

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