If there’s one subject that keeps coming up in my conversations with retailers at present, it’s mobile. As the youngest channel, we as an industry are still getting to grips with where mobile fits into the retail mix, and how we can use this channel that most consumers live their lives through to drive sales.
Part of the reason that mobile is such a hot topic in retail is the vast potential it offers. Many organizations are already seeing the benefits to be gained from a mobile-first ecommerce strategy, but as yet most are not using it to its full capability within the bricks-and-mortar environment.
Done right, mobile has the potential to revolutionize the store experience. However, with great opportunities come many decisions about where, how and in what to invest – a decision that must be made correctly to ensure mobile technology delivers ROI.
So, what is mobile’s future in the store? And how can retailers ensure it returns on investment? Here are my top line thoughts…
- Mobile will be the key to uniting digital and physical retail
Omnichannel can be an overused word, but the reason retailers are still talking about it is because few have delivered it fully. Mobile is the best way to bring digital shopping capabilities into the physical environment – whether that’s looking up inventory at the shelf edge, placing orders for items available online that are out of stock in-store, or drawing on product information or reviews to convert an in-store sale.
- The checkout as we know it will evolve
Not enough is being done at present to bring mobile into the checkout experience. However, those that are embracing mobile Point of Sale technology have established a real differentiator from the competition.In a customer-centric world, we are constantly moving towards a scenario in which the entire bricks-and-mortar experience is built around the shopper, and that means having the mobile tech to serve them and checkout from anywhere in the store.
- Store associates will hold more power – and more responsibility
One thing that mobile has the power to fundamentally change is the role of the store associate. Technology enablement lays the foundations for a world in which there will be fewer front-line staff, but these personnel will be able to serve the customer in a richer, more efficient manner than ever. Mobile POS will play a key role in this service, as associates can access information such as purchasing history, which allows them to tailor service to the preferences of each customer. It also enables them to access online information such as product demonstrations and recommended accessories, to cross-sell and upsell in order to increase average value orders.
- Mobile loyalty will become the most powerful advocacy channel
We’ve already touched on the fact that greater use of data analytics will empower store associates to personalize shopper experiences, and business intelligence will have a powerful impact on loyalty schemes, too.As the one device that consumers use during their ecommerce and bricks-and-mortar retail encounters, mobile is the ideal channel through which to run loyalty schemes. Not only that, but store staff can use this data to tailor customer experiences based on their lifetime value. Being able to tier loyalty offers by shopper spend, and to ‘surprise and delight’ high value customers with on-the-spot rewards, creates a real sense of return on customer investment.In addition to encouraging further spending, running a mobile loyalty scheme is also likely to generate greater organic take-up, as loyal customers recommend it to their family and friends.