With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, retailers are forming strategies to make consumers fall in love with their brand this February 14th and the weeks leading up to the big day. One engagement approach you can expect this Valentine’s Day will be mobile optimization. During the holiday season between Thanksgiving and the New Year, mobile shopping exploded: according to research firm eMarketer, 78% of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers used their smartphone to do research while shopping and 50% purchased their holiday gifts over mobile.
As such, while major retailers attempt to encourage customer conversions over all channels, they will especially focus on mobile engagement. Merchants of all sizes and segments can plan on following suit – here are some ways you can optimize your mobile offering and encourage customer engagement this Valentine’s Day.
It is no secret that promotions are the way to a consumer’s heart. Since nearly 90% of consumers own a mobile phone – and presumably shop with their phone in-hand, whether in-store or over the mobile web – retailers can appeal to Valentine’s shoppers by sending deals to their cell phones. Macy’s, for example, sends promotions via text message, while other retailers offer promotions in email campaigns which are optimized for mobile. 74% of people now tend to read their email over a smartphone, so ensuring email readability on mobile devices is crucial.
A final – perhaps surprising – method retailers should consider is offering Valentine’s Day deals via QR codes that consumers can scan with their mobile phone. Although QR codes are less popular in the United States, these scannable codes have become increasingly popular in China and are a worthwhile consideration for any cross-border retailer active in that region.
For years now, there has been a lot of hype surrounding the ability to pay with one’s smartphone. Prior to launching Apple Pay at the end of 2014, Apple already had been leveraging its database of iTunes users to enable seamless mobile payment in-store for some time. Although mobile payments have yet to overtake credit card payments, merchants should grant consumers more flexibility when it comes to payment over mobile channels.
Retailers can streamline checkout amidst Valentine’s Day traffic in brick-and-mortar stores by leveraging consumers’ mobile phones or self-checkout tablets kept in the store. In-store and online, retailers should ensure their payment infrastructure is optimized for mobile checkout, and enable consumers to comfortably pay with mobile wallets like Apple Pay, PayPal, or Alipay – the popular e-wallet in China.
One effective way of engaging customers is by making the Valentine’s Day shopping experience memorable and fun. The discount website and application RetailMeNot exemplified this last year with their Valentine’s Day sweepstakes, which drove application downloads by offering prizes in return. Contests and games can prove a more innovative and exciting way of attracting customers and driving sales for Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.
New dynamic decision-making technology is enabling a number of engagement possibilities, specifically by leveraging location-based data. Brands such as Macy’s and American Eagle Outfitters already have deployed technologies like beacons, successfully boosting in-store engagement. When consumers grant permission, these devices enable retailers to push location-based promotions, helpful information, and recommendations to consumers. The retailer can also leverage location-based technology and its connection to consumer smartphones to answer shoppers’ questions and provide helpful information about product availability and location in-store, enabling a more efficient shopping experience for the consumer.
The ability to detect a consumer’s location and personalize their experience based on their in-store journey, past purchases, and their proximity to likely desirable items in the store makes customers feel engaged, leading to increased brand loyalty, cross-channel traffic, and, ultimately, conversions.
One of the major benefits of the mobile channel is that consumers feel comfortable using it, enabling a fruitful exchange of information between the customer and merchant. With Valentine’s Day approaching, merchants can plan on leveraging mobile connectivity to provide consumers with inventory transparency and product information, while they, in return, can gain imperative insights about consumer behavior from data collected about consumer app and mobile internet use. Retailers can utilize location data, with consumers’ permissions, to optimize their store set up, request customer feedback to receive insight about consumer preferences and tendencies, and formulate strategies for engaging customers and personalizing their experiences in the future.
Time and again mobile has proven itself a preferred channel for consumers and a productive tool for merchants to drive traffic and revenues on shopping holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, and every day.