10 Reasons to Get Serious About Mobile Retailing (in Case You Aren’t Already), Part Two

In my previous post, I outlined five reasons why retailers should formulate a clear Mobile Retailing strategy (Curious about what they were? Check out that post here). Here’s the thing: Mobile Retailing cannot be something you “do on the side” or as an afterthought. Some CMOs may perceive mobile as just another marketing channel (with a small screen). But its power is not to be underestimated, and as many retail industry analysts have pointed out, having a mobile strategy is crucial to the long-term viability and success of every retail business. According to the Forrester report “Reimagine Mobile To Activate The Total Brand Experience” (May 2019), mobile remains the personal experience hub for many consumers to get a personalized, contextual relevant and augmented shopping experience.

So let’s have a look at another five reasons why retailers should get serious about Mobile Retailing:

Reason #6: Improve In-Store Efficiencies

Starbucks says it’s essentially in the business of making connections with consumers, by “reaching over the counter to present a cup to another outstretched hand.” These connections need to happen as conveniently and efficiently as possible. After introducing mobile order and pay at Starbucks, the coffee chain experienced a significant increase in line efficiency, minimized wait times and reduced attrition due to long waiting lines. This example shows that it’s not only the shopper who benefits from the services, information and rewards made accessible to them via one central digital hub—the retailer benefits too. Ordering upfront via a smartphone or kiosk means less staff are needed in-store, while digital receipts and punch cards drive down paper costs and waste.

Reason #7: Enable Staff to Offer Better Services to Consumers

Having the right store associates working on your team is key. The way you enable your people to carry out their tasks is almost as important. Communication between staff, stock keeping, adjusting price tags, in-store positioning and handling returned items—each of these day-to-day store activities can be made simpler when processes are  automated using an app on a mobile device. Walmart has been doubling down on this approach, empowering its staff with real-time data and the means to communicate efficiently with other associates, so that they can service consumers better thanks to smarter, quicker decisions based on relevant, timely data.

Reason #8: Apply (New Use Cases for) In-Store Navigation

Consumers get easily frustrated when they cannot find an item—or worse, when they spend time searching for it only to eventually discover the item is out-of-stock. Unfortunately, I’m afraid all of us, as consumers, have been there. Some retailers have therefore added functionalities in their shopping app that allow consumers and associates to check the in-store availability of items and prices. Sometimes the item information is extended with the aisle number where the item can be found.

Digital store maps make it even easier for consumers and staff alike to find the item they’re looking for. Walmart, for example, now offers improved store navigation using store maps in in their revised consumer app. Yet this application is barely scratching the surface. Combined with smart in-store positioning technology (e.g. based on smart lighting or beacons) retailers can real-time push targeted promotions based on the exact location of the consumer. If personal self-scanning (with either BYOD or a retailer-owned scanning device) is applied, shoppers’ actual basket contents can be incorporated into a targeted promotion, making it extremely relevant. Moreover, it supports staff with order picking, providing them with an optimal route to collect all items efficiently. And it provides retailers with much more detailed heat maps that show how consumers find their way through the store, which then supports further store layout optimization.

Reason #9: Increase Footfall to the Store

Mobile devices accompany consumers wherever they go. This makes them the ideal candidate to start personalized engagements with consumers based on the specific context shoppers are in (like location, time of day, purchases recently made and so on). Last year we announced Vynamic™ Demand, a solution that allows retailers to engage consumers on their mobile devices wherever they are. For example, the solution can send real-time offers to the mobile phones of consumers who are identified via geo-fencing in the vicinity of a store, driving footfall with targeted offers. It can also transfer offers and content from a TV broadcast instantly to the consumer’s mobile device, enabling them to purchase products seen on TV immediately online or pick-up in store later. This enables retailers to increase footfall to the store, while closing the marketing loop and tracking a consumer’s shopping behavior from initial awareness up to actual purchase.

Reason #10: Use Mobile Data to Optimize Consumer Experiences

Mobile touchpoints offers a wealth of consumer-related data that—provided it’s properly anonymized—can be used to discover new consumption patterns. Location data (via Wi-Fi, beacons etc.) plus interest data (via ads clicked, content read, etc.) plus actual purchase data (via payments made, orders clicked, etc. ) can all be combined on one single device or within one single app. Mobile data can give a huge impetus to transform offline shopping experiences. According to the above-mentioned Forrester report, “Close to 50% of marketers now think of mobile as a catalyst to transform customers’ entire experience, not just the digital one. They view the customer journey through the lens of mobility to orchestrate a personalized and contextualized experience across channels.” Mobile as such acts as the glue connecting the digital with the physical world, and it can spice up offline experiences with relevant data collected in the digital space.

In summary, there are many reasons to invest more in Mobile Retailing. While traditionally, retailers may have regarded mobile as just another channel, it is now clear that smartphones have transformed into so much more than ‘just another’ sales channel. Or to quote Jack Philbin, CEO and co-founder of Vibes, a mobile marketing engagement company, and Chair Emeritus of the Mobile Marketing Association, “Mobile is no longer just a vital part of an omnichannel strategy, it must be viewed as the “omni” in customer engagement.”