Sign up for online retail news and stats delivered each week.
4 Ways For Retailers To Maximize Mobile This Holiday Season
Mobile targeting is advancing nearly as quickly as consumer adoption of smartphones. Here's how to leverage both trends for the upcoming holiday shopping season.
Retailers are juggling a complex new landscape as their physical, online and mobile worlds converge.
Customers are adopting mobile faster than anything that has come before; yet, some retailers lack urgency in meeting new consumer expectations of getting what they want in their immediate context and moment of need.
This is understandable on first blush as, after all, direct mobile sales account for a small portion of overall e-commerce sales, which itself is dwarfed by in-store retail sales.
A Seismic Consumer Shift
However, to think of mobile as just another channel, or to simply port what worked online over to the handheld mobile form factor, misses the significance and opportunity of this seismic consumer shift to mobile.
Consider Deloitte’s estimate (PDF) that digital interactions will influence 50% of in-store sales by the end of 2014, up from 36% in 2013, with smartphone adoption accounting for 75% of that growth (“The New Digital Divide,” April 28, 2014).
So, while consumers may simply still buy in the store, they have a smartphone or tablet guiding their decisions much of the time.
Because mobile is ever-present, it’s there at the moment of inspiration — precisely when buyers are making purchase decisions, inside or outside of a store.
The ability to determine exactly where a shopper is physically in the research-to-purchase process, and to directly communicate with them in highly-relevant and contextual ways, makes mobile apps the ultimate owned media channel for brands going forward.
Those that embrace this and integrate the experiences into their retail strategy are going to come out ahead of those that ignore it, or even those that move cautiously.
Apologies if this seems a bit self-promotional, but here’s a video our company made to illustrate some of the possibilities:
Our experience working with some of the world’s largest retailers offers key insights into four ways brands can leverage their apps to create customer engagement and provide personal shopping assistants for their customers via their own, ever-present mobile devices.
1. Keep Your Audience Up-To-Date On The Latest Offers, Wherever They Are
The days of customers reading the Sunday newspaper inserts and redeeming paper coupons are dying; however, customers are still looking for the best deals.
Whether consumers are following you socially, or opting into push notifications, text messages or email, the number-one reason is to receive coupons and deals, according to a 2014 report on Mobile Behavior conducted by Luth Research for ExactTarget.
Mobile provides a great opportunity to connect with customers and offer specials that aid in purchase decisions, with a 2012 Juniper Research study finding that redemption rates for mobile coupons eclipsed paper-based coupons by ten times.
And consumers are using them more and more. An Inmar study (PDF) estimates that more than 66 million digital coupons were redeemed in 2013 industry-wide — a 141 percent increase over 2012.
When customers download your app, brands are able to explicitly tailor their push notifications to address each customer’s specific interests, increasing response and driving bigger basket sizes whether in the app or in the store.
2. Connect With “Pre-Shopping” Customers & Learn What They Like
The vast majority of consumers — 90 percent, according to a 2012 Google study — say they use their mobile devices for pre-shopping activities such as browsing, research and inventory or price checks. Customers are making purchasing decisions well before they even set foot into the store.
A brand’s app is an essential link to help customers pre-shop, and app preference centers help make apps stickier because customers invest time to set it up to their liking. It builds trust because retailers are giving customers control, and it reduces noise by filtering content to show only what interests the customer.
Relevance rules when it comes to mobile, and with all of the variety retail stores offer, it is mandatory for keeping shoppers opted-in to notifications.
3. Capture Insights From Customer Behavior For Precise Retargeting
However, it is nearly impossible to ask customers about everything they are interested in through the preference center. Retailers must also be able to infer customers’ desires through what they actually shop for in the app, or their in-app behavior.
Mobile data reveal what your customers are searching for, which products they preview and how long they linger on product pages in the app. Brands should take this opportunity to re-target, and reach out to customers that browsed but did not buy when it makes sense.
Maybe they need to see another option, or perhaps they would be more willing to buy if offered a sale price. This can be automated and rules set up to trigger additional messages based on specific behaviors — whether that’s adding items to a wish list, or exhibiting significant dwell time — to move customers through to conversion faster.
4. Use Location Profiles To Target The Right Audience For Special Events
Customers that elect to share location information with retailers are revealing a tremendously personal data set — where they live, work and play — enabling your messaging to be location-aware. Brands must protect this data, learn from it and give customers something valuable in exchange.
For example, if one or more store locations plan a significant event, you might wish to message your audience that has been present in that area within a certain time frame. While geolocation — a customer’s current position — can reveal some of your audience for the event, location history reveals those who also might be willing to travel to your store.
You can set the threshold for your audience cohort based on proximity to a specific store; a defined area such as a school district or ZIP code; or a point of interest, such as a stadium, mall, school or store.
In the not-too-distant future, a location-enabled app might be the most helpful thing in a retail store. As customers move through physical spaces, past various displays and departments, beacons can detect their proximity and send relevant messages, either right then or later, having learned what interests them the most.
Maximizing Mobile: Key To Retail Success
In this mobile era, customer engagement throughout their shopping lifecycle is the key to success. Taking the long-term view of delivering an app that enhances the consumer’s life before, during and after they shop with you is essential.
Delivering value through push messaging means customers continue to allow it and appreciate it. Selling to them constantly is tiresome; so, be sure to deliver a mix of valuable information that makes them appreciate your app in their lives. Your brand in their hand, whether in your store or not, is a very valuable opportunity.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.