Making the most of mobile in retail is more than about creating a site that looks great on the format, allowing people to buy your products 24/7.
Mobile apps are continuing to grow as established sales drivers in real-life shops too -- encouraging more and more smartphone users to open their wallets in new and innovative ways.
AI can be used to drive recommendations, bridging the gap between customers and brands. Using AI to maximize your marketing spend can revolutionize the way brands ‘speak’ to their customers, making for a more personable and relatable customer experience.
Ikea were pioneers of this, bringing augmented reality apps to their furniture catalogs back in 2013. The plain advantage of giving customers a way to test their products at home is the potential to increase sales and average order value. Removing the ‘will it fit?’ barrier to purchase, in this case, with such a well-executed idea, encouraging customers to try-out other item recommendations through their smartphone cameras.
Building trust with customers is essential for long-term business success. Part of this process involves having a clear point of contact for customer service inquiries. Retailer apps that contain a chat portal will be miles ahead of the competition in terms of keeping their customers happy. Likewise, building an online storefront that guides customers all the way to the checkout, with a support team on-hand, can also ensure that customers remain satisfied.
By using exact location data on smartphones, retailers can use mobile apps to track their customers’ journey around stores and provide them with valuable, highly-targeted adverts and offers via push notifications. Apps and ‘beacons’ are being used to create tailored shopping experiences, not unlike having your own personal shopper in-store with you.
Rebecca Minkoff offers a great example of this with their Smart Dressing Rooms App. This changing room ‘magic mirror’ allows you to build coordinated outfits on-screen. Saving customers the hassle of re-dressing and scouting the store again for the perfect matching ensemble.
The increased presence of mobile apps behind the cash register has also changed the way retail workers manage their day, freeing up time to help them concentrate on delivering great customer service. For example, apps, where retail startups can manage their own e-commerce store from their smartphones, takes the time and stress out of maintaining stock levels, inventory, delivery tracking etc.
Gamification mobile apps have also been taken-up in the retail sphere as a means of incentivizing employees and customers alike. In exchange for gaining survey responses or positive customer feedback, sales staff and customers can earn points towards a bonus or store discount.
Many smartphone users are already making the most of mobile banking and finance apps to take control of their spending. According to the Federal Reserve in 2016, 33% of smartphone users had also purchased an item in a store via a mobile app. Convenience was cited by the survey respondents as one of the main reasons why they used mobile apps as an alternative method of payment.
Mobile ecommerce platforms have used secured payment methods in this way for a long time. Internet users are now used to having their payment details saved on their phone and clicking to buy. So for retailers that provide this level of convenience at their POS (point of sale), they can reap the benefits of increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Walgreens is one of the big name brands that have made the most effective use of paid mobile apps. In 10 of its locations, the pharmaceutical retailer offered its app customers the opportunity to file their prescriptions through their smartphones, as well as print their photos in their in-store processing lab. Queue-jumping services like this have since been copied by many other retail outlets. The mobile wallet trend is only set to spread as consumers become more used to the efficient service.
Make no mistake, mobile shopping through the apps has put e-commerce in many ways ahead of retail, especially in terms of personalization. But, by combining both the technology of mobile apps and the personalized aspects of the online shopping experience, retailers can mirror these same sales techniques and adapt them to suit their customers.
Victoria Greene works in brand consultancy and is a freelance writer in her spare time. In her free time, she share her branding tips with online readers.