Mobile commerce is driving nearly $40 billion worth of sales for retailers today, with 84% of consumers now using their devices before or during real world shopping trips, according to a 2014 report by Deloitte Consulting. Despite the significant opportunity that exists for retailers, the reality is that mobile is an incredibly large topic and many business owners are unsure of where to begin in their journey toward using mobile to drive in-store sales.
Here are seven strategies that retailers of all sizes should consider as they begin using mobile to drive purchases in their brick-and-mortar stores.
1. Execute real-time campaigns. “Executing a real-time campaign is an effective way for retailers in heavily-trafficked areas to draw in additional shoppers. Rather than serving ads based on a device’s location history, ads are delivered based on real-time proximity to a target location—in this case, the retailer’s store. Retailers can give active shoppers in their vicinity additional incentive to visit their stores in the form of special offers or rewards delivered directly to mobile devices. Very clean and accurate data is required to avoid waste and drive better conversion rates, [so retailers should] beware of geo-fencing and street address-based approaches.” (Ed Haslam, PlaceIQ)
2. Advertise on premium mobile apps. “Mobile advertising is very cost-effective, and it can be targeted by location, interest, gender and time. Retailers can buy ads in premium apps and websites with specific offers that can drive foot traffic. We’ve found that in-store offers not only generate opt-ins to SMS loyalty lists, but also drive cart size. Shoppers love them, because they think they are getting a special deal, which makes them spend more.” (Adam Lavine, FunMobility)
3. Empower sales associates with mobile tools. “Mobile has completely changed consumers’ expectations for interactions with retailers. When retailers adopt beacons, they must not only consider the experience they are providing through consumer apps, but also how they can empower sales associates to personalize every conversation they have with customers. Retailers should leverage beacons’ customer identification capabilities to populate employee apps or POS dashboards with a person’s name, loyalty level, demonstrated preferences, and historical behavior. A clothing store sales associate, for instance, could then recommend a necklace that goes with the dress a customer bought last month.” (Puneet Mehta, MobileROI)
4. Look for patterns of past consumer behavior. “Retailers can deliver ads to specific audiences built by using locations that the targeted devices have visited in the past. A device’s location history provides a great deal of insight into consumer’s lifestyle and interests, giving marketers a higher degree of certainty that targeted consumers will be receptive to ads. The trick here is to discover patterns of past visit behavior across very large populations of consumers to ensure higher conversion rates. Retailers looking to drive in-store sales should target ads to segments of consumers who exhibit purchase intent based on visits to competitive or complementary locations.” (Ed Haslam, PlaceIQ)
5. Mobile sites should be platforms, not stages. “Merchants that want to use mobile effectively should utilize technology that makes a consumer’s mobile site experience different than a website experience on a PC. Your website can include all the flash, text and details, but for mobile, ‘Form Follows Function.’ The ‘form,’ or design, on mobile must come from the ‘function’ that consumers need when they utilize mobile: getting information in a more simple format that is easy to read and with obvious places for calls-to-action. This allows consumers easier navigation and directs them to the right place quickly. Merchants that do it right will use mobile as a platform to showcase specific products, promote specials, and perhaps designated mobile landing pages for timely marketing promotions. (Kevin Bowers, ZettaMobile)
6. Integrate beacons with third-party data sources. “Beacons are being heralded as one of the biggest innovations to change the customer experience since the smartphone. Beacon efforts, though, will be all for moot if retailers rely simply on the micro-location intelligence provided by the devices and miss out on true customer context. Retailers need to create a single view of their customers by integrating all CRM, e-commerce and social systems, and tapping into open third-party data sources. Retailers could then automate marketing efforts based on a multi-dimensional sphere of relevance for individual customers—everything from real-time weather and traffic conditions, to historical purchases and online behavior.” (Puneet Mehta, MobileROI)
7. Merge the in-store and online shopping experience. “Retailers can merge the in-store and online experience with mobile. If a company also has a large online presence, it can allow customers to order items—either large or out-of-stock items—quickly [via mobile]. It can also create partial showroom areas and give customers an incentive to purchase online. This reduces the restocking efforts in brick-and-mortar stores.” (Chris Bupp, GISi Indoors)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.