Cell phones have become a fundamental companion for in-store shoppers, as they rely on them to research product information and reviews, conduct price comparisons, hunt for coupons, build recipes, and much more. The challenge for retailers is to harness the power of mobile devices to make them a complementary part of the brand experience, and not a distraction or a reason to leave the store. It is essential for retailers to own this engagement platform and provide tools to shoppers that answer their questions and make the in-store experience easier and more rewarding.
Below, I’ll explore three reasons why retailers should consider integrating a powerful, branded mobile application, and how they can leverage it to create a more engaging in-store experience that capitalizes on the deep shopper-phone connection.
Marketing and Personalized Offers
In its simplest form, personalization requires anticipating what users may want or need based on what retailers already know about them. Most shoppers claim to be open to receiving personalized offers – viewing it as a service rather than an intrusive, generalized message. Therefore, a retailers’ ability to leverage consumer data and personal shopping history quickly and easily – anywhere, at any time – is essential.
For example, as a shopper enters the grocery store, location-based geofences can remind them that a holiday is approaching, and send a coupon directly to their in-store app. Likewise, as a shopper checks out, the point of sale (POS) system can identify brand affinity for a specific item such as a frozen meal and send a coupon to use on their next visit, helping promote return business.
Similarly, the main functions of loyalty programs, digital or physical, have remained the same for retailers: they serve as a way to identify repeat customers and their shopping habits. However, traditional loyalty programs have fallen out of vogue as shoppers now expect more targeted, relevant offers and rewards in exchange for their coveted personal information.
Shoppers will always have their phone on them, but might not want to carry around a physical card, and with the rising popularity of mobile wallets, they might not even carry cards at all. In tandem with personalized offers on mobile devices, integrated loyalty programs help provide a new level of excitement and value for shoppers on the go. One example of a well-performing mobile loyalty program is the Starbucks app. According to eMarketer, 23.4 million people will use the Starbucks app to make a purchase at least once every six months, and its usage is ahead of both Apple Pay and Google Pay. So, why is it so successful? Not only does the Starbucks loyalty program allow shoppers to pay with their phones, but each purchase also accumulates points-based rewards – striking the perfect balance between convenience and consumer benefits.
It’s important for retailers to remember that simplicity is key. Shoppers are constantly bombarded with information and new offers coming their way, so putting coupons and a rewards program alongside a payment method can bring a new level of integration and seamlessness into retail stores. By focusing on convenience, consumers will only be looking at you, and not the competition.
Online shoppers have noticed how frictionless the checkout process can be, and now expect the same in person. But, it seems inevitable that whenever we’re in the biggest rush, we’re stuck behind someone who’s trying to make a return, or has sent for someone to retrieve a critical item they forgot. Thankfully, according to IHL, Mobile POS Software is one of the fastest growing areas in retail technology, so waiting in a checkout line will soon be a thing of the past.
When smartphones are used as a self-scanning device, the pain points involved in a traditional checkout process are eliminated. By turning mobile phones into tools and not distractions, the customer experience is instantly improved as shoppers check in with a QR code to connect with a store’s POS system. Then, consumers can freely scan items as they shop, and pay for them without interruption.
What retailers once perceived as barriers to in-store engagement – mobile phones and pervasive web access – have become essential for traditional retailers to provide convenient services and build loyalty. Shoppers are always looking for tools and apps that provide them a frictionless and rewarding experience, regardless of channel, and the retailers that adapt and leverage the customer connection to their mobile phones are and will be best positioned to maintain and deepen their relationships with customers.