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2010 is quickly becoming the year of mobility. With the introduction of the Google Droid late-last year and the continued strength of iPhone and Blackberry devices we are as connected as ever. In the past (recent past) we would have to set up our laptops at the local Wi-Fi hotspot in order to check e-mail, get directions or just surf the web. If you haven’t noticed during your last trip into Starbucks, this phenomenon has shifted. There are still people working on laptops, but for a quick check of information savvy people are using mobile devices.

Last November, my wife and I bought our first home and we are doing a lot of furniture shopping – I mean, a lot. I noticed as we were going in and out of stores that we were reliant on our mobile devices to tell us if a store was worth looking into. It would be extremely inconvenient to stop off at the cafe and open our laptops, even though I require heavy doses of caffeine to get me through day-long furniture shopping expeditions. The store would benefit from our patronage if they were mobile ready (i.e. Crate & Barrel and Target) and those that weren’t wouldn’t get as much attention.

eMarketer had a conversation with with JCPenney‘s Development Director for Emerging Digital Media, Dave Owen, about their approach to digital marketing and their mobile coupon testing. JCPenney launched a 16-store test in the Houston market last September, where people could access JCP coupons on their mobile devices and would redeem them by the sales associate scanning the bar code from the phone with a special, optical scanner. JCP used Cellfire for their mobile coupon initiative because they didn’t want to be limited to just smartphone users.

“The phone is becoming more of a life tool for our customer rather than simply a way to send text messages and make calls.”

– Dave Owen, Development Director for Emerging Digital Media at JCPenney

One kink I find in JCPenney’s plan is that their site, just like a lot of companies, isn’t optimized for mobile use. Having just one piece of the mobile puzzle isn’t the answer and as mobile coupons become the norm people will work with companies that offer easy navigation. Sure they will still get their foot traffic and people that search from the comfort of their own homes, but the mobile generation is on the go and that means mobile.

Over this recent holiday season retailers saw record sales online. So far the trend has showed that people are going from in-store to online shopping. The next logical step is the online to mobile shopping. My advice for retailers in 2010, set your site to be mobile friendly because just like the mobile devices the consumers are getting savvier.

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