How Retailers Need To Stay Relevant With Multichannel Retail


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The retail world is still catching up with mobile technology, especially the high street retailers who could benefit most from it.

With retailers attempting to lure in the punters and get those with the window-shopper/show-room mentality to part with their cash, they have to use every trick in the book. That means using the best and most up-to-date technology available.

Sometimes, major retailers simply ignore mobile technology, and we’ve already seen some of the first casualties going under because they failed to take into account the following channels.


One in five people now use their Smartphone when shopping – and with the increasing proliferation of mobile apps and the advantages they can bring, it’s easy to see why.

Being a mobile experience, the primary advantage is that you don’t have to be at the shop. Lots of apps give shoppers the option to scan barcodes to compare prices with other stores with similar products, enabling the cash-conscious to snap up the best deal.

Many retailers have store-specific apps which not provide you with the latest product info, but also alert you when there’s a store in your vicinity. Stores also send you coupons and alert you to the great deals on offer.
And proving that Smartphone shopping can still be a communal experience, you can send pics of your intended purchases to friends to see what they think.


Research has shown that tablets – as well as other techno-media, for that matter – are used in conjunction with other forms of media, including print newspapers and magazines, which makes it a more immersive blend of both old and new media formats, and increases the potential for interaction between the different channels.

Apps for tablets and smartphones alike typically feature a simplified UI which puts products front-and-centre. They’re a prime target for retailers even as a channel on their own, let alone as an additional retail channel. A great example of this is CrunchButton, a food delivery service that enables you to order food with just one tap – sooner or later, retailers are going to replace these third-party services with their own offerings.

Tablets are also more portable than laptops. Plus the fact that tablets are used by the more sophisticated and up-to-the-minute techno acolyte implies a certain affluence and therefore a more generous spending budget and consequently greater profit for the store.

Apple have also explored the opportunities to customise tablets for different purposes and capabilities, catering for specific devices – for example, iPad apps focusing on shopping and browsing, iPhone apps concentrating on shopping lists, QR codes, store locators and coupons.


Forced to accept the fact that texting is more popular than talking and every commute to work is an obstacle course and text-obsessive minefield, many retailers and businesses are using geo-fencing technology, which has a broad range of applications across the human resource, marketing, retail and law enforcement sectors.

Retailers big and small are using text technology as well as their standard brick and mortar stores to enhance the customer service experience, including text coupons/offers. Texting also allows customers to place and track orders, check delivery status, and receive order notification alerts.

Shoppers are also more likely to visit a store after receiving a text alert. Again, texts are effective when used in confluence with traditional in-store retail opportunities, creating a link between old methods and new.

Social Media

Other social media streams are tapping in to the burgeoning potential of multichannel retailing – social networks are by their very nature organic and constantly evolving.

Pinterest, for example, recently announced it would remove its invite-only policy and launch a series of apps accessible to all. And eBay recently launched a new social shopping tool called Help Me Shop, an shopping advice hub for their social network; if there’s an item you like on eBay or another website you can pin it, share it with friends, and (publicly or privately) ask for their opinion if you should buy it. You can even set up a Facebook poll.

The integration of an array of multichannel retail possibilities is designed to make the experience of planning/deciding the purchase as painless as the purchase itself. So new technology needn’t only be about staring gormlessly at a piece of plastic clutched religiously in a sweaty palm – it’s above all about involvement and a complete immersion in the retail experience.

James Duval
James Duval is a marketing expert who has been cited by Mainstreet, ProBloggingSuccess and MarketingProfs. He works for Comm100, thinking about new tricks and techniques in the email and marketing industries.


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