3 Steps to Winning the Mobile Consumer

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, retailers had been busily rolling out strategies to lure holiday shoppers. Both in-store and online brands offered extended hours, free shipping and a variety of discounts and deals.

With the entire bustle, how can brick-and-mortar retailers make their presence heard above the loud cacophony which barrages consumers – particularly during the holidays – but also year round?

The reality for today (and tomorrow’s) retailer is that mobile has transformed the shopping experience – 85% of consumers planned to use their phones this past holiday season. And for 53% of consumers, the top way they planned to use their phones was looking up product information to help make the right purchase.

In addition, while innovations bring opportunities, they also present new challenges. For example, Amazon has begun offering Sunday deliveries, supplying speed and enhanced convenience that retailers will have to match. Mobile payments and in-store technology continue to evolve with mobile wallets and iBeacons, allowing retailers easier access to data about their customers and the ability to use this information to their advantage.

The bottom line is that while retailers intuitively know mobile is a game changer, they don’t always understand best practices or how to implement them. But…the good news, there are plenty of opportunities to thrive. Below are three actions retailers can take to win the mobile consumer beyond the holiday season.

Understand how mobile can impact buyer behavior

It’s now more vital than ever for retailers to seize the opportunity to guide discussions and interactions with consumers. The search for information while shopping consists of product research and price comparison. If your consumers can’t easily find information in your store or from your displays or packaging, they will turn elsewhere — potentially to a competitor.

Start by asking yourself “what does my customer look for when they enter the store?” Not only should there be clear access to the product information they might be seeking, but offers should be personalized as much as possible – something that is now readily available through data and technology. Advise customers of special sales with their favorite brands. Offer signage connected to information on mobile sites and apps, along with complimentary in-store Wi-Fi. Mobile is a consumer’s most personal device and it’s a great communication tool to improve the entire shopping experience, from the decision to visit your store until the final purchase is made.

Integrate seamless customer experiences

A consumer’s experience with a store now begins at several different points including Web, mobile devices and in-store. Through these different channels, provide consumers a holistic way of interacting with your brand. When in-store, allow customers the opportunity to use their mobile phones to enhance their experience. Make QR codes available to scan for additional information, enable Wi-Fi access to your mobile-optimized website, and allow customers to pay for their purchases via mobile wallets at checkout. When your customers are not headed to the brick-and-mortar location first, connect with them through the Web by offering personalized offers, coupons or email incentives – or even free shipping to their closest retail location to usher them in-store.

Get familiar with the tools

Use Google Wallet and Apple’s Passbook — the non-payment side of the mobile wallet that allows you to save and organize offers and coupons and loyalty cards — to reach your consumers with exclusive offers and incentives. You can activate mobile wallets through multiple channels like email, text, apps, mobile banner ads and more. Consumers can add valuable mobile content to their phones that they can use in-store. In fact, according to our recent research, 85% of consumers see the value of mobile wallet. In addition, new technologies such as Beacons allow even more targeted geo-location information in-store, so you can pinpoint where a customer spends the most time – and use that information to benefit both your customer and your brand.

Paying close attention to mobile interactions now helps cultivate a richer experience over time; and gives you a leg-up on the competition. Aim to give your consumers the right content in the right time at the right frequency to drive them into your store. Because things like Amazon’s new delivery option is a sign of things to come, it represents more reason than ever for retailers to think about alternative strategies, such as mobile, to drive customers into their brick-and-mortar stores.

Mark Tack is Vice President of Marketing at Vibes, a Chicago-based mobile marketing technology company. Follow him on Twitter @marktack.

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