9 ways mobile is changing retail

May 2018

Think it over:

What’s happening? Mobile becomes an irreplaceable component of omnichannel strategy in retail. If you remember, a few years ago mobile devices were used for barcode scanning and card swipes to speed up the checkout. Today mobile phones anticipate customer questions and show targeted and personalized ads, extend the range of products available and work as personal shopping assistants.

Here are 9 ways mobile is changing retail today:

1. Shopper has the same awareness as salespeople do.

There is no need to rely on store assistants’ advice anymore, when all the necessary information is on the fingertips. On the one hand it can be considered as additional difficulty, on the other – as another opportunity to map a route to your brand in a consumer’s decision journey. By analyzing statistical data, you can commit to customers, learn about their preferences and purchase history to offer better in-store service. For example, in retailer-built mobile apps you can offer matching items based on previous choice.

2. Relevant delivery of personal suggestions instead of outdated in-store ads

Industry leaders move from static in-store ads to mobile soft- and hardware use. Digital price tags, additional information about products and services appear, when users only start thinking about it. It became possible partially due to beacon technology. VALFOR implements iBeacon to provide better data collection and targeted advertising.

3. Mobile increases in-store foot traffic

The trend is ambiguous: on the one hand, rapid development of mobile experience decreased traffic to brick-and-mortar stores by 57% because of online purchases, as we have mentioned at the beginning of this article. On the other hand, by going mobile brand gets more opportunities to attract a motivated customer.

Think of Adidas as an example: they decided to evaluate how mobile clicks on their store locator links were driving in-store sales. They invested $1 million to make $1.6 million revenue due to adding store locator clicks in mobile ads.

Offline stores can play various roles in the process of omnichannel communication with the brand:

  • Customers can pick up their orders carried out via their mobile device;
  • Brick-and-mortar store can act as a showroom;
  • For high-status (like jewelry or wrist-watches) or iconic (like Apple devices) products the offline store is valuable for professional advice and the feeling of being ‘in’.

4. Mobile technologies facilitate payments

Line-busting technologies that became possible due to POS peripherals in mobile devices move the store’s efficiency to the new level, speed up the process of closing sales and can increase sales:

25% of shoppers admit they changed their minds in a checkout line – because they had too much time to search for product details, analogues and competitor’s prices. Besides, about 1/3 of millennials say that an opportunity to pay with Apple Pay or Google Wallet is important to them.Google Consumer Survey, April 2015, U.S., n=1130.

5. Mobile boosted the value of opinions

Due to easy access to customer feedback and comparing it to analytical marketing data, the time between the idea and its adjustment to the market needs is as short as never – CRM can benefit a lot by getting valuable customer information from mobile. Social networks and YouTube are major sources of millions of user opinions. It enables smart retailers start a dialogue directly with their fans and advertise through opinion leaders.

6. Products and their characteristics are jumping off the screen

Mobile closes the gap between inspecting a physical product, holding it, feeling it, trying it on and seeing an on-screen image. Customers can shop in any products categories due to interactive videos, 360o views, gestural controls and virtual try-ons. Warby Parker company, an eye-glasses retailer, allows people match frames against their uploaded photos. Such an online showcase works for closer interaction with the product and turns emotions on. It is followed by a desire to buy.

7. Not in store? We’ll order it for you

Mobile helps to optimize inventory and transform stores to showrooms. Popular items are quite often out of stock in a store, but they can be easily delivered to customers: sales assistants check inventory of other stores and warehouses on their mobile and confirm the delivery in just a few taps. No more disappointed customers, who couldn’t get what they wanted.

8. Push-Based Apps instead of Pull-Based

Today’s apps don’t wait until users do something: request details, search for products or add them in a cart. The era of pull-based is almost over. Push-based apps anticipate customers’ needs and timely show updates, product selections and prices.

In the future, content, products and services will find you, rather than you having to find them. Puma will let us know to replace our shoes and Marriott will automatically present you room options if you missed your connecting flight.

Dries Buytaert

Drupal founder


Internet Retailer states that 61% of US consumers put more value brands that offer a compelling mobile experience than brands that do not, while 40% percent of them can easily be lost because of bad mobile experience.

9. Cut labor costs

More personalized, more convenient and, as a result, more efficient interaction with the brand is an added benefit. It is worth noting that automated payments and easy information access help to cut labor costs.

How to get most of what mobile technologies can offer?

  • Launch a branded mobile app to use in-store – Tom Redd, global vice president, strategic communications, SAP considers it important for customers to see their loyalty program bonus points, products marked as favorites, receive mobile coupons or get suggestions in their mobile when entering a physical store. “This is highly effective in fashion, but also tools, electronics and housewares. After purchase, shoppers can use the app to post purchases to social sites for extended marketing reach.” – you can encourage them buy offering in-store discounts for that.
  • Demonstrate user-generated content and reviews next to products – According to Bazaarvoice research user-generated content leads to 133% conversion rate growth in mobile shoppers, who view it. It builds trust to the brand and awareness about the product characteristics.
  • Use app gamification to make shopping fun – Games, contests, opportunity to unlock rewards: all that makes store visit more attractive and boosts brand loyalty and community engagement.

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