Mobile’s disruption of the customer journey is something all retailers will be well aware of. These handy devices that we carry around constantly – and are often frightened to leave the house without – have become our lifeline for most daily tasks.
However, many retail organisations are so focussed on building a solid mobile commerce strategy for their online activities that they’re missing the opportunity to redefine the store experience around shoppers’ smartphone usage.
Mobile has fundamentally changed all aspects of retail, not just ecommerce, and it’s time retailers rethought store marketing in line with today’s emerging behaviour patterns:
- Customers are coming into the store more informed
Most shoppers will carry out some form of online research before buying offline. Even for impulse purchases, they will often look up details on their smartphone on route to the store.This means that although they are potentially closer to purchasing, they may have specific, detailed product questions that store associates will need to answer.
- Mobile is the new sales associate
Shoppers’ mobile reliance doesn’t end when they reach the aisles; around 75% of consumers will use their smartphone in the store to assist with purchases, according to a recent study by InReality. Most often, this is to carry out a price comparison, however it can also be to look up product details not available at the shelf edge.This creates the risk of shoppers finding a better deal online, and therefore stores must do more to make point of sale marketing more informative, or introduce technology-led initiatives such as clienteling to retain control of the digital customer journey in-store. Read our blog: is your store ready for the new era of mobile?
- Loyalty’s going mobile
It’s not just the purchase journey that mobile is redefining – it’s the entire store experience. One of the biggest affected areas is loyalty, as shoppers now want to use their smartphone as the central hub for all daily activities. Relying on paper vouchers or plastic cards, often disconnected from online loyalty programmes, no longer meets their digitally-driven standards.As a result, retailers must look towards digital passbooks for store loyalty, which connect with iPhone and Android devices. In addition to incorporating smartphones into the offline customer experience, being able to log purchasing history will enable retailers to gain a single view of customer value in all channels, and start personalising marketing based on their individual behaviours.
- There’s a new generation of tools for connecting with customers
Today’s challenge is to make mobile interactions compliment bricks-and-mortar shopping. Once this is mastered, retailers can begin building on this platform by engaging with customers in new ways through their smartphone.Beacons in particular are empowering retail businesses to geo-target offers based on shoppers’ location in the store, or send priority promotions to frequent shoppers.However, it’s important that companies don’t rush into this level of sophistication without first getting the basics right. Mobile is their most important customer communication tool; a robust, long-term strategy is essential to blending the digital with the physical through shoppers’ favourite devices.