By Stephanie Trunzo
Mobile is predicted to account for more than 20% of online sales this upcoming holiday season and more than 80% of consumers are expected to perform mobile pre-shopping activities like browsing, finding locations, and adding items to their wish-lists.
The news follows the growing trend of mobile shopping. For example, more than half of all smartphone users use their devices to search for product and store information – and not only for the stores they’re in at the moment. The most common smartphone searches include comparing prices and looking for product information on different retailers’ websites.
To address heightened expectations for engaging shoppers and enhancing their experiences, mobile technologies can help retailers improve productivity, customer service, merchandising and sales while addressing demand for timely, accurate details such as information on in-stock items and pricing.
The most successful mobile strategies encompass Responsive Web Design (RWD) to work across devices and form factors (including desktop!) and installable apps to utilize the native capabilities of the device all while leveraging common technology and seamless branding.
Whether using scannable coupons, taking a picture of a new clothing item, comparing prices, sending personalized notifications on promotion or discounts, mobile is offering retailers influential new engagement channels. “Mobile-first” thinking must be integrated into all parts of a shopping journey to enhance loyalty at every touch – from research and shopping to payment and follow-up.
Brands that don’t engage with consumers using mobile technology are losing sales. In fact, consumers comfortable with making purchases via tablets will drive $76 billion worth of transactions in 2014; smartphones will drive another $38 billion in transactions.
To capture this opportunity, retailers must create highly personalized mobile moments that take advantage of immediate, time-sensitive customer opportunities.
For example, saving money and earning rewards have been long-time staples for retail marketing. The next wave of successful mobile apps will put loyalty front and center with features that allow customers to earn and redeem loyalty rewards through their phones or at physical store based on their current location and recent purchase history.
While a myopic view of mobile commerce may appear to compete with in-store sales, there’s a tremendous opportunity to leverage mobile devices to augment in-store shopping. Many innovative retailers are enhancing their shopping experience — and the overall brand dynamic for consumers — with apps that add value.
For example, retailers now have the ability to detect when shoppers are in-store and engaged, as well as track how they are interacting with certain displays or navigating the store layout. A shopper’s interactions can provide powerful information about intent to purchase. Data collected at a generic, aggregate level can help quantify in-store demand and provide intelligence to make merchandising decisions on the fly.
Retailers are now set to track every product a shopper searches for in-store and whether it was fulfilled or out of stock. This, in turn, informs merchandising and stocking decisions, so retailers know exactly what products should go in their stores, and determine which products sell better in certain regions during specific times of the year.
Additionally, using mobile capabilities, sales associates can provide better, more personalized customer service with the ability to check availability and locate products for customers in-store in real time, or use customer data to match customer preferences for mobile offers. A store associate can create targeted personalized offers based on real-time information collected while interacting with customers in-store to enhance the customer experience.
For the upcoming holiday shopping season and beyond, loyalty for retail brands has become a fierce battleground.
With the ubiquity of mobile technologies, the fight is only going to intensify, creating even more fickle shoppers who try new brands that can capture their attention in the moment.