Today a consumer’s path to purchase often comprises of many online and few increasingly mobile touchpoints. Not only do they use their mobile devices to make purchases but also to research products, compare prices and check reviews. There’s no denying that mobile shoppers and showrooming are two buzzwords that strike fear in the heart of brick and mortar store retailers.
The 2013 Vibes mobile consumer report states that 44 percent of shoppers admit to having taken part in showrooming frequently. But today most retailers have realized that the best way to combat showrooming is to own it. If you are losing sales because your customers are busy purchasing on their mobile device while they are in your store, then fight back by using the same mobile channel to improve your in-store shopping experience.
The key tactic here is to get your consumers to do their research on your app or mobile website rather than a competitor’s. Here are a list of features that will help you integrate your mobile and marketing efforts while offering your consumers an engaging shopping solution.
1. Providing a seamless cross-channel experience across devices
According to a recent report by Capgemini on Digital Shopper Relevancy, 60 percent of shoppers said they expected converged retail channels to be the norm by 2014. And more than half of these shoppers said that most retailers lack consistency in the way they present themselves across channels.
Infact, though ‘showrooming’ has been a topic doing rounds in the retail circle, 51 percent of online mobile shoppers said that they would prefer using the corresponding retailer’s mobile app once inside the store. Thus you can capitalize on this by providing your consumers with an omni-channel experience that in turn adds value to your brick and mortar retail store outlets. You can ensure your customers a seamless cross-screen experience by customizing the content for different devices and ensuring keyword parity across search engines.
2. Leveraging mobile offers and coupons to increase in-store footfall
Mobile coupons have the potential to lure consumers to walk into your store by appealing to the ‘deal-shoppers’ in them. According to a survey conducted by RetailMeNot in association with Omnibus Company, 33 percent of shoppers agreed on being deal-hunters, having searched for an online coupon on their mobile.
Contextually relevant mobile coupons are uniquely positioned to engage shoppers in real time and drive them to your nearby store to make a purchase. For example, 51% of shoppers said that they are more likely to enter a store and purchase something if they receive a coupon on their mobile device while they are near that store.
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For example, Sears and Kmart, a major retailer recently used location-based mobile coupons as a crucial part of their ‘Shop Your Way” rewards program for loyalty members. The feature let members access the experience with their phone and send them alerts when deals were available in store. Thus the holiday season of 2013 saw 69 percent of sales come from members as compared to 58 percent last year.
3. Using QR codes to provide quick access to more information
Confidence of the customer plays a critical role in turning browsers into buyers. Integrating QR codes into your in-store shopping experience will help you boost sales by making customers confident about their purchase with quick access to more information.
There has been a lot of debate regarding the effectiveness of QR codes. But with the unique ability to bridge online and offline media and build deeper relationship with customers, marketers cannot yet write off QR codes.
According to a recent report by Scanbuy, a mobile engagement solutions provider, scans saw a drastic increase of 33% compared to the last holiday season. And on a closer look, the report surprisingly reveals that it was not millennials but consumers within the age bracket of 35-44 who scanned QR codes the most.
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It is important to note that you do not have to provide your customers with an added incentive such as a special deal to make them scan a QR code. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of additional information to drive sales. You can do this by granting your shoppers access to a full set of consumer reviews, as well as in-depth information and specifications that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to gauge by simply glancing at the product packaging.
4. Letting customers locate items easily using in-store navigation
The in-store navigation feature acts in your favor by letting you provide an convenient shopping experience that helps your customer to make a quick purchase decision.
According to a recent Consulting Digital Shopping Behavior survey conducted by Cisco, 66% of shoppers who frequently used mobile to make purchase decisions said that they preferred a mobile app with in-store navigation feature.
By providing an in-store mapping platform which works on all smartphones, you can let your customers locate any in-store item on an aisle-level outline of a store. You can also use it to guide them within the store by letting them have a bird’s-eye view of the store.
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U.S retailer, Lowe’s recently added a new feature to its mobile app that helps customers locate items more specifically by showing the aisle numbers for searched items. By integrating Lowe’s loyalty program, MyLowe’s , into the app it also lets customers add products to a wish list and view them on a store-specific map which displays the corresponding aisle number of each item. They can even view an interactive map that lets them zoom-in closer on the aisle.
5. Enabling mobile payments to reduce waiting line exhaustion
With a mobile point of sale (POS), you can equip your retail staff to process a payment then and there, even before the customer changes his mind. Infact, 73% of shoppers said that long waiting lines are one of the most dreaded experiences when it comes to an in-store shopping experience. Nordstrom, a large scale retailer, saw a 15% rise in quarterly retail sales after having deployed 6000 mobile POS devices across its stores.
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Recently Express added a mobile payment feature to it’s iPhone app and integrated it with the Express Next loyalty program. It lets members log-in to the app and make a payment by showing a virtual copy of their loyalty card that includes a barcode for each item. Once the retail staff scans the barcode, the sale gets added to the monthly bill of the customer.
Furthermore, according to a recent Motorola research whitepaper titled ‘What’s driving tomorrow’s retail experience?’, by 2017, roughly half of all in-store transactions will be completed using a mobile point of sale or a self-checkout feature on the mobile phone of the customer.
6. Driving mobile consumers to the nearest offline store using store locator
According to a study on 2013 UPS online shopping experience, 44% of U.S consumers said that they did prefer to order online and pickup in store. Of recent, more and more consumers are drawn to the opposite of showrooming- dubbed by retail insiders as webrooming- where consumers do research on an item online and then purchase it from a physical store.
Most online shoppers are drawn to this feature these days as it lets them fulfill their immediate need and also avoid shipping costs. Being an online retailer, you can use this to your advantage by letting your customers find the nearest offline store on your mobile website using the GPS information.
For example, GAP, one of U.S’s largest speciality apparel chain, is blurring the lines between online and in-store by directing online shoppers to the nearest store using a ‘Find in Store’ button on their mobile website.
7. Making consumers confident about their purchases using product ratings and reviews
Consumers rely on product reviews to make informed decisions before purchasing an item. You can use this to significantly improve the conversion rate of your product page by providing your customers with authentic customer reviews.
A recent research study paper published by Cisco on shopper behaviour states that 63% of online shoppers who frequently use mobile to make purchase decisions said that ratings and reviews displayed on retailer websites have a huge impact on their purchases.
For example, Home Depot, a U.S retailer in home improvement products, helps shoppers in their purchase decision by reinforcing the relevance of products to their own needs in their customer reviews.
On the other hand if your online retail store is one that mainly sells clothing and accessories, one quick way to create a connection to your customer is to use authentic images of your fans using your products in the real world. And chances are, consumers are already sharing these images across social networks. For example, Threadless displays customer images directly on their website and product pages to present user-driven, authentic reviews to potential buyers.
Mobile is a great way to give your customers the best of both worlds – researching products online and interacting with knowledgeable employees at the time of pickup. It also helps customers start their journey on one channel and complete it on another thus creating seamless experiences that increase convenience and engagement. Are there any other features that you think we missed here? Share your thoughts in the comments below.