Photo by William H.
While many retail analysts have written about the slow death of bricks and mortar retail, more merchants are using mobile technology to drive retail foot traffic. In fact, growth in website traffic from mobile tablet devices from Q4, 2012 to Q4, 2013 has grown by almost 50% and now accounts for 26.8% of web traffic. However, when we drill down into what is driving this growth, we see that it is mobile apps that are accounting for the lion’s share of the increase in traffic. With more and more consumers now using smartphones and tablets, how do you leverage this trend?
In order to successfully leverage the trend, merchants need to think about giving consumers what they want. By reducing the pain points throughout the consumer experience with the use of mobile, you can drive store traffic and build loyalty. There are three critical areas within the consumer experience that successful retailers are capitalizing on using mobile technology: convenience, value-add, and personalized experience.
Consumer Focused Convenience
Mobile technology allows you to drive sales from nearby consumers and to capitalize on questions that may have led to a missed sale from consumers in-store. Stores with great immersive in-store experiences often use technology to their advantage. Think of location sensor technology, such as Apple’s iBeacon, which are enabling retailers to use their walls and windows to capitalize on sales from consumers who may not enter the store.
Stores are also creating interesting displays with mobile friendly icons. Those icons open the merchant’s website and offer product information and the ability to order on the spot for home delivery or collection at a convenient locations. When it’s convenient for customers to learn about your products and services or purchase from your store, they will be more likely to do so, so provide them with the platform.
Other merchants have recognized the potential missed sales from untrained associates or unavailable associates. These merchants have developed mobile friendly apps to help consumers learn more about products, to upsell complimentary merchandise or just to provide a store map.
Enhance Customer Experience With Value-Add Functions
Mobile technology is being used across the store to add value and enhance the consumer experience. Some retailers are using mobile technology to provide product information from the manufacturer, in-stock colours and sizes, or the ability to order for home delivery. Other merchants are using mobile technology to provide live chats with experts to ensure consumer’s questions are being answered.
Retailers also use mobile technology to take advantage of consumer trends. The prevalence of showrooming has led American Apparel to develop a scanning app that lists real customer product reviews at the click of a button. Think about functions your customers will appreciate, and use mobile technology to deliver them.
Personalized Service To Keep Consumers Coming Back
Marketing and loyalty are all about giving the consumer a personalized experience. It is possible to use this personalized experience to drive foot traffic. We all understand the frustration of going to a store, being time crunched and needing to find something quickly before getting on our way. Using mobile technology, it is possible to recognize that a consumer has arrived in your store. Here are two examples of how mobile technology could personalize the experience:
- Opening your app, the consumer can ask where a specific item is located and can be given a route to find the product on shelf. Tie-ins to inventory can allow you to advise them immediately if the item is not in stock, suggest alternatives or offer home delivery of the product from another store with inventory or your distribution centre.
- A consumer needs a variety of items, for example to match a room shown in your catalogue or for a recipe from your site or elsewhere. Your app translates the picture or list into one that the consumer can add to or subtract from and then guides them quickly through the store to where each item on the list is located.
By recognizing consumer’s busy lives and removing the pain point of finding products, you are able to provide a personalized experience that will build loyalty and bring consumers back.
Imagine if mobile technology was used to create bespoke product. For example, a customer could take a picture of the perfect green while out walking, send it to a merchant and choose from the merchant’s style catalogue for a bespoke blouse. If they weren’t sure about silk versus cotton, they could come in store to feel the fabric to finalize their decision.
The opportunities to creatively use mobile technology to drive store traffic are endless. A dose of daydreaming combined with an understanding of the consumer’s pain points will provide merchants with endless opportunities to drive foot traffic and keep bricks-and-mortar loyalty.