Everything you need to know about retail mobile strategy

Within the retail, mobile has become an essential part of the IT strategy. Many retail organizations have already invested in mobile strategies, while others are behind and missing out on the unexplored potential of mobile.

Content

The future of brick and mortar retail is mobile.
Start with selecting the right platform
Deciding the right mix of features for the app
How retailers can adopt a mobile-first strategy
  1. Provide an Omni-Channel User Experience
  2. Collect and analyze customer data using Big Data
  3. Leverage the power of customer location data with beacons
  4. Integrate chatbots in your services
  5. Engage Customers with Interactive Apps
  6. Empower Your Sales Force with Tools for Clienteling
Advantages of the right mobile strategy
Summary

The future of brick and mortar retail is mobile.

While the vast majority of products sold still happens in brick-and-mortar stores, customer expectations for brick-and-mortar stores are evolving.

The Age of the Customer. In this era, digitally-savvy customers would change the rules of business, creating an extraordinary opportunity for companies that could adapt, and creating an existential threat to those that could not.

As a result of online experiences, in-store shoppers now expect to:

  • Have detailed product information in the store
  • Read ratings and reviews
  • Get help finding products
  • Get access to the best price
  • Be able to skip the cashier line on the way out.

Retailers’ answer to these elevated in-store expectations is to use mobile devices.

In China, JD.Com is the second largest e-commerce business, behind Alibaba. JD owns 10% of Chinese supermarket chain Yonghui Superstores and has a major partnership with Walmart. JD has launched a new grocery store concept called 7 FRESH. When shopping for produce in 7 FRESH, you can use your mobile phone to scan a barcode on a pear, for example, and see detailed product information (farm of origin, sugar content, customer reviews, etc.) on a screen above the produce section. Alibaba has a similar digital grocery store concept called Hema. At both Hema and 7FRESH, you must have the retailer’s smartphone app installed to even get into the store, because you’re going to use that app to scan your own purchases and complete the transaction without ever getting in a checkout line.

Start with selecting the right platform

It is tempting to launch your mobile app on all platforms in one go. Before you decide to do that, research and understand your target audience. Targeting the wrong audience is always going to have consequences for your marketing strategy, including the success of your app. Thus it is a must to identify the right platform for your niche.

Each OS has its own market share, advantages, and disadvantages, and it’s important to identify these differences from the outset. As Android and iOS both dominate the OS market, it makes sense to focus on them when working on a mobile app strategy. But in places like Brazil and a few European countries, Windows Mobile still plays an important role. So for a Brazilian or European-based retailer, it would be beneficial to consider working Windows Mobile into their strategy. Similarly when looking at South Asian and

Chinese countries, Android has more numbers than iOS, making it logical to invest in Android before looking at other platforms. Other platforms like Cyanogen OS, Firefox OS and Tizen have only small shares of the market, making them generally undesirable for launching mobile apps.

That said, they are also really competitive in developing countries and shouldn’t be ruled out when considering these markets.

Deciding the right mix of features for the app

Like the platform, the idea of adding every possible feature into a single app can seem appealing, with the goal to please every single customer.

“Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

It is an often misunderstood truth that the fewer features a mobile app has, the easier it is to use. Adding unnecessary features to please everyone leads to added friction, more hours thus more costs and ultimately destroying the whole user experience.

Therefore we always like to start with a minimum viable product with the essential functionalities. The MERN-stack is the tech stack we use to build mobile apps and using these newest technologies allow us to easily add modules and features later on.

Start small, think big.

When a brand tries to push all possible features into a single app, it detracts from the experience and confuses the user. If the brand or organization thinks that all features are important, they should consider launching separate apps with a confined set of features for each, rather than launching a single all-encompassing app.

How retailers can adopt a mobile-first strategy

Your desktop site will always matter in the path to buy, but the majority of your customers have a smartphone in their pocket that they use constantly.

Provide an Omni-Channel User Experience

Consider several channels to interact with customers — online stores, mobile app stores and mobile apps for customers. By providing such an approach, retailers drive commerce by giving consumers multiple ways to engage with stores and buy goods and capture every type of customer.

Customers enjoy visiting a physical store to interact with the product and then purchase it at home. So, think: can your customers browse a product in-store, scan it with a mobile application, and then add it to their bag to buy later online?

What’s more, consumers often check prices in different stores. Having this in mind, you can put in place a feature of price comparison in your mobile app so that its users can check prices in chosen stores.

Noteworthy that before taking a purchasing decision, 57% of US shoppers look for advice on social networks like Facebook and Twitter and look through reviews and ratings. So, integrate social media into your app, also taking into account Pinterest, Instagram, and others.

Collect and analyze customer data using Big Data

Thanks to small inexpensive beacons, RFID-tags, sensors, and CRM systems, now retail companies have access to advanced customer data. Add to it mobile app analytics and data across various channels (social media, polls, surveys, reviews, testimonials) and you get the ability to make deep insights in customer behavior and increase customer engagement.

Leverage the power of customer location data with beacons

According to a new survey by Global Market Insights, retailers are integrating modern technologies and innovative business models to provide customers with a personalized and seamless content-driven shopping experience.

At the moment, beacon technology is gaining momentum due to fast-growing demand for location-based marketing solutions. Simply put, beacons are small devices that detects the moment a customer appears near the store and use low-energy Bluetooth connections to automatically send a push message directly to the user’s smartphone.

When being notified of special offers, shares, and discounts, customers are much more likely to enter the store and make purchases. Also, beacons can serve for collecting data about customer behavior, e.g., for identifying their favorite shops, goods, and routes in the shopping center.

Having this information at hand, retailers can improve such things as the arrangement of goods, location of shops, and indoor navigation as well.

Integrate chatbots in your services

AI-based bots are becoming smarter day after day, transforming customer service into something more simple, fast, and convenient. Realizing AI prospects, companies and corporations are using AI solutions to build advanced client support and customer help systems.

Chatbots — lightweight Artificial Intelligence apps that run inside such popular mobile messengers as Facebook and WhatsApp and quickly answer user questions — are being widely used in the retail industry.

You can also apply them to automate issues that generally need someone from customer service to take care of. This way, chatbots will not only help engage your customers and offer a seamless shopping experience but also reduce costs and optimize business processes.

Engage Customers with Interactive Apps

When designing your mobile strategy, you should keep interactivity in mind. Retailers that provide an outstanding user experience see higher sales and customer satisfaction. These strategies include options like:

  • Push notifications for in-store offers
  • The ability to create shopping lists
  • Price checking
  • In-store self-checkout
  • Retail store locators.

Retailers like Walmart have seen some success with these types of interactive strategies, and it seems to be paying off. When creating your mobile solutions be sure to include several ways for customers to engage with your brand regularly.

Empower Your Sales Force with Tools for Clienteling

Clienteling is empowering your people to build a long-term relationship with key customers based on data about their preferences, behaviors, and purchases. Leading to more personal and informed customer service.

Consumers crave a personal experience while shopping; they want connection, excitement, and spontaneity when committing to their next carry-on suitcase, or sweater or smartphone.

Retailers must leverage one of their most important ‘assets’ — their people.

The right mobile strategy can be the glue between the three main components of successful clienteling:

Information

Detailed information about a customers’ personal shopping history could help facilitate engagement between the shop assistant and customer to drive engagement between them.

Think about how you can better help people make the right purchase decision when data like the customers’ wish lists, typical purchase size, past purchase history, clothing size, likes and dislikes is readily available.

Shop assistants now have a “360-degree view” of their customer meaning this personal information is accessible no matter where it was originally generated — from a search on a mobile device, input on a desktop computer or even collected in store. The information is aggregated and can be made available to the associate with a push of a button.

Personalized 1:1 Communication

With thousands of brands competing for a customers’ attention, it’s critical that the shop assistant creates a personal connection with the customer.

One way to do this is to establish a consistent and personal line of communication. Going beyond the random newsletter informing the customer of a sale.

Instead, leveraging functionalities integrated into brands’ native apps.

For example, auto-recommend merchandise based on customers’ past purchases. These suggestions can then be sent in a message within the consumer’s native app. When the customer opens the message, an image appears of the suggested item and the link is fully shoppable.

Other functionality, such as promotions and loyalty programs, can also be more directly communicated with customers using sales associate apps and the brand’s native app. The benefits offered to customers by consistent communication between the sales associate app and consumer native app is quite powerful.

Seamless checkout

How often have you gone shopping in a store, only to abandon your purchase when you see the size of the line at the checkout counter?

Think about your last trip to an Apple Store.

You were likely greeted by a very knowledgeable employee who could complete your purchase on the spot — no waiting in line. This is because Apple’s associates are equipped with mPOS (mobile Point Of Sale) solutions that enable checkout anywhere in the store at any time.

Retailers can dramatically improve the in-store experience by offering digital checkout options.

Offering a safe and quick checkout for shoppers should no longer be considered a luxury; it should be a necessity.

*Bonus Instant payment for in-store customers using mobile

Consumers do not want the inconvenience of filling in their card or bank details for each purchase. These days, they expect systems to be smart enough to remember their details and yet keep them secure. There are many ways to make this work: the mobile app can integrate a feature like one-click purchase,

where the customer’s details are all stored in a location and password protected for security. When integrated with features like Touch ID, customers can retrieve these details using their fingerprint to authenticate their details. Meanwhile, apps can integrate mobile wallets like Google Wallet and even Apple Pay to enable quick purchase options for their users.

Advantages of the right mobile strategy:

  • Mobile scan-and-go solutions reduce (even remove) the need for physical checkout lanes, as consumers can pay in-aisle via a mobile app.
  • This frees up valuable real estate for more product lines, or for in-store experiences such as cookery classes or beauty treatments, to help drive in-store sales.
  • With mobile, retailers can also push targeted offers and promotions directly to the consumer as they shop.
  • For repeat customers, merchants can collect user behavior and purchase patterns to promote recommended products and remind consumers to pick up their frequently bought items.
  • It is far more efficient to keep existing customers than to attract new ones. Loyalty and rewards programs are integral to increasing consumer lifetime value (LTV) by incentivizing this repeat custom.

Summary

It all starts with embracing mobile as a strategy to meet your customer’s expectations. Only then can we look at the possibilities.

Then building the right foundation by selecting the right platform and deciding on the most important features of your app.

By looking at the several possibilities how retailers can adopt a mobile-first strategy, we can decide what to focus on first.

• Provide an Omni-Channel User Experience

• Collect and analyze customer data using Big Data

• Leverage the power of customer location data with beacons

• Integrate chatbots in your services

• Engage Customers with Interactive Apps

• Empower Your Sales Force with Tools for Clienteling

Even the biggest retailers like Intersport, Apple and Amazon do not launch everything at once. They build the basis and iterate from there. Dividing their mobile strategy into multiple phases, laying the foundation and building upon that foundation brick by brick.

It’s clear that the brick-and-mortar shopping experience of the future needs to be digitally enabled, and retailers are discovering that the most practical and cost-effective way to do that is to leverage the supercomputer shoppers are already bringing with them.