Prepare For Crosschannel Consumers Before Black Friday

Sep 15, 2012 1:10 AM  By

Before Black Friday, merchants must employ mobile strategies and technology to adapt to their customer base and learn what will help their business grow as well as giving them a leg up on the competition.

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Multichannel Merchant
Multichannel Merchant
Multichannel Merchant
O+F Operations and Fulfillment

The entire retail ecosystem is converging because consumer-buying habits are becoming conditioned around m-commerce, smartphones and tablets. Now, consumers are engaging in couch commerce; they start the purchase process from their favorite living room chair instead of their traditional personal computer or, on the low tech side, in the aisles of a retail location.

To position themselves and remain competitive, bricks and mortar retailers must research their competitors and examine their online and mobile presence as well as the competitive pricing.

These efforts shouldn’t escape online retailers either. Mobile strategies drive incremental business. In fact, a study from Pew Internet found that during 2011’s holiday shopping season more than half of adult cell phone owners used their phone in store to help with purchasing decisions.

With the increase in mobile use, retailers should expect an even bigger increase in consumers who use devices to shop and make decisions this holiday season. The question is how to convince consumers to leave their couches and visit retail locations on the busiest shopping day of the year.

The solution starts with location technologies embedded in mobile devices to encourage shoppers to head out their doors. It then extends to in-store scanning capabilities to entice them to purchase more products.

Geo-fencing
Retailers are losing customers they didn’t even know they had due to their lack of mobile geo-fencing, or hyper-local campaigns. Geo-fencing can enable retailers of any kind to target customers that are within a predetermined radius or specific location and send customers offers or messages to encourage them to visit the store and make a purchase.

In fact, JiWire found that 80% of mobile users prefer locally relevant advertising and 75% are more likely to take an action after seeing a location specific message.

The perfect scenario would be a person relaxing after Thanksgiving dinner, browsing on their tablet and pondering whether or not to brave the crowds for a Black Friday deal. Well if they’re indecisive, a specific message documenting further deals or an exclusive offer should they visit their local store would sweeten the pot and encourage a Black Friday shopping trip.

Customers want retailers to offer them ideas and deals for purchases based on their personal preferences. Customers are already on their phones looking for deals so this technology is especially useful for retailers to target customers who are already out running errands or shopping and are more likely to go to their store or website. JiWire also found that 21 percent of consumers search for coupons on their mobile device while in a store. By implementing a mobile strategy that leverages geo-fencing, retailers will be able to personalize consumer offers in a timely way.

QR codes
In exchange for their loyalty, today’s consumers expect a deal. Retailers are beginning to leverage QR codes to provide their customers with these loyalty programs and are most notably being executed by Starbucks and now Dunkin Donuts.

Companies like LevelUp are providing innovative ways to engage customers in loyalty and reward programs that keep them coming back. Whether you are an online retailer or brick and mortar store, loyalty and reward programs can be used to increase the overall shopping experience and customer retention.

Small retailers in particular have much to gain through mobile loyalty technology that creates value-added and cost-effective programs to help them succeed in an increasingly competitive environment.

Outside of loyalty programs, many retailers are struggling with QR codes away from the cash register. The problem is that consumers are not really being incentivized or instructed on using them. Shoppers will not scan if they do not understand the value connected with the activity.

When your customers have arrived in-store, make sure they’re aware of the benefits they’ll receive through scanning products in-store. The technology also allows for potential deal and giveaway promotions for participation. Retailers want Black Friday shoppers to see as much of their store as possible in hopes of gaining extra sales and encouraging scanning through promotions is a way to push consumers in that direction.

Dan Dufault is executive vice president of sales and marketing for Merchant Warehouse.