No, we are not talking about mobile strategy for retailers but a sub-part of it, that is – Mobile strategy for brick-mortar stores. Yes, it is different from the overall mobile strategy for the retailer and no, it cannot be done correctly without thinking differently from online store strategy. With ever increasing number of smartphone and affordable data plans, it would be a bad move not to think about mobile strategy for retailers. I hope retailers are already aware that it is critical for their business to have a mobile strategy. There are tons of material already written to suggest why. What I have yet to discover is separate mobile strategy for retailer to help their brick-mortar stores.
For number enthusiasts:
Comscore, as of January, 2012, 101.3 million people in the United States have a smartphone. Thatâs almost one in every three Americans! While Nielsen has this number to be around 43%. Fitch Ratings also predicts that by end of 2012 2/3rd that is approximately 66% of US population will be using smartphones. The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced that eCommerce was responsible for 48.2 billion dollars in sales during the third quarter of 2011.
A market research by Vibes’ shows that mobile technology plays a vital role for in-store shoppers:
- 84% of shoppers have conducted in-store product research via smartphone
- Nearly half of all consumers feel more confident about their purchasing decisions after pulling up additional product information on their mobile phones
- 33% admitted to searching a competitor’s website for better deals while in-store
- 6% of consumers said they were likely to abandon an in-store purchase for a competing offer
Interestingly, brick-mortar stores are not doing great despite many of them investing in a good mobile marketing strategy. The reason being – one size fits all approach used by the retailers. Many have just one app that handles the overall retail experience, online presence as well as brick-mortar stores. So, retailers should refocus their mobile strategy and break the overall plan into two parts: Online mobile strategy and brick-mortar store strategy. Both areas have their respective focus areas. One primarily caters to online mobile surfers, while other caters to visitors seeking help in brick-mortar stores. No, it is not necessary to design it as 2 different apps, it could very well be integrated into one app, but design, feature consideration should be specifically designed to also keep in mind the needs of the store visitors. While doing this from the same app, application framework Â and app should be smart enough to identify the traffic. As a starter, it would be a good idea to experiment ans test it using QRCode backed website, which could later be integrated into app strategy if the workflows and used cases are identified and validated.
Following strategy design considerations would go a long way in building a strong brick-mortar retail specific mobile strategy:
1. Include all possible used cases needed by store visitors and wanderers:
It is important to understand what are the most promising features required by users who are surfing the store or wandering around the areas. The used case may include – learning more about products, asking for help, searching for an accessories, price match etc. May be hiring some shoppers or doing focus groups could provide some starting ground. With this savvy data age, I am strictly against focus group, but surely, it could work great as a starting point. It is also important to restrict the research and findings to areas that are impacting store workflows only.
2. Connect Online store with off-line through seamless layer:
Considering expanding mobile landscape, it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture and the overall mobile strategy. So, seamless connectivity between store specific workflows and online store workflows provides easy maneuverability to users. The goalÂ shouldÂ be to keep users satisfied byÂ fulfillingÂ all their needs and thereby keeping their business confined within store commerce. Certain examples are: providing product availability online, having product shipped to home for free from online etc. So, it is important to compensate shortfalls from one channel with the other i.e. Online workflows and Brick-Mortar store workflows respectively.
3. Provide ability to leave feedback,suggestion, grievances etc.:
Learning is an important part for any business. With evolution in data tools, there is no excuse for anyone not to leverage it for personal benefits. Any possible auto-learning opportunities must be incorporated. A good customer experience management strategy provides list of those surveys and learning manuals that should just be enabled in mobile framework at appropriate workflow touch points. Having done that, retailers will not need anything else but this self learning mechanism to evolve with changing market dynamics. This can lead to sustainable business growth.
4. Reward visitors for enhancing usage:
Certainly, a usage will provide so many other opportunities to stores such as better learning, better chances for referrals, recommendations etc. With that in mind, retailers should provision for some reward system to encourage the use of mobile products and a good design framework should provide mechanics for integrating some reward system. This could be done by providing store credits, coupons etc. It is important that some learning should also be done on which rewards works at which stage.
5. Provide seamless presence and connectivity with other social platforms:
It is not a surprise that there are many other better, reliable local presence social apps being used by users. Some examples being, face book, foursquare, yelp etc. It is important for store mobile strategy to incorporate some alliance with those framework as well. There should be a customized and altered to attract visitors. The sooner stores get in those lines, the more adoption will they receive.
So, get the right gears and move onto building a robust brick-mortar store mobile strategy, that helps stores learn faster and move with changing customer landscapes.