The retail industry sure had its fair share of tough challenges in the past few years. Even if, for a moment, we grossly discount a debilitating blow of the 2020 pandemic, the in-store shopping customer activities and overall economic stability of the sector have been on an alarming decline for quite some time. The pandemic, however, was an eye-opening experience for many retailers: even successful industry giants must never remain too complacent because of an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment (J.Crew and Neiman Marcus come to mind). So, where do they go from here? To resurrect their profits and win their clientele’s trust and loyalty again? Which practices do retail businesses really need to adapt quickly? The answer is mobile.
With the internet expansion, smartphone popularity, and the development of IoT (Internet of Things), there are a minimal number of industries, if any at all, that would not benefit from mobile integration. The shopping experience for customers has been completely transformed by digital disruption. But does the triumph of mobile technology entail the death of in-store retail as we know it? While companies are forced to pivot their digital strategies and, perhaps, prioritize e-commerce platforms as their focal point, many brick and mortar businesses can transform, revitalize, or even rescue the in-store customer experience with the help of mobile.
Valuable perspectives to consider
- The omnichannel shopping
According to Internet Retailer, “61 percent of U.S. consumers have a better opinion of brands that offer a compelling mobile experience than brands that do not, and 40 percent will turn to a retailer’s competitor based on a bad mobile experience.” Furthermore, about 81% of shoppers in physical stores use their smartphones to get more info on the product or comparison shop!
Armed with the superb mobile representation of the retail location and/or a mobile app, a company has a competitive advantage and can seamlessly blend its brick and mortar store with the retailer app.
My personal experience at Zara, for example, demonstrated this point beautifully. Being short on time, my aggravation rose as I stood in a long line to pay for my selected items. But with my smartphone camera, I was able to scan the products’ SKU codes, which brought me to exact pieces in Zara’s app. I quickly added everything I had in my hands to my online cart and completed the checkout process in mere moments.
An important point to consider: give your customers several options to shop at your store by crafting a “frictionless” customer journey between physical retail location and an online store.
- The Proximity Beacon Technology
Remember that 81% of shoppers on their smartphones mentioned above? Well, Beacons (small wireless devices that transmit a signal to nearby phones) can help to reach those shoppers. Beacon technology sends relative product information, valuable promotional offers, etc. to Bluetooth-enabled phones while effectively curating and guiding the customer experience in the store (the additional feature is immediate payment for the item). The recent studies on Beacon technology demonstrate an impressive sale increase for retailers, and overall customer sentiment is also quite positive. 70% of shoppers, who received beacon related content on their phones, reported the increased likelihood of making a purchase.
The future of Proximity Beacon Technology and marketing appears to be bright. Incorporating this advanced mobile device will enable companies to provide a tailored customer experience, which, in turn, can ensure steady foot traffic to retail store locations.
- Knowledgeable sales associate powered by mobile
What about “high-touch” retailers who rely on the staff’s expertise to deliver outstanding customer experience? According to TimeTrade, 49% of shoppers are “extremely likely” to make a purchase when helped by a knowledgeable associate, and another 39% are “somewhat likely.”
In this case, the appropriate mobile devices in the hands of retail specialists can enable them to access real-time product information and updates, inventory supply data, expert knowledge in addition to conveniently processing customer’s payment.
Thus, even in luxury or specialty store segments where customer-associate interaction is crucial, mobile integration can play a truly transformational role.
It seems likely that the era of mobile innovations will not leave a single stone unturned. Powerful and hugely successful tycoons like Amazon have already swallowed a lot of its competition in retail segments. But not all is lost for brick and mortar stores and businesses. Armed with the latest mobile technologies, companies can surely earn their place in the retail sun!
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Casselman, B., & Maheshwari, S. (2020, May 15). When Shoppers Venture Out, What Will Be Left? Retrieved October 11, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/15/business/economy/coronavirus-retail-reopening.html
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The Future of Retail: Mobile Flips the Economics of the Store Floor. (2019, January 08). Retrieved October 11, 2020, from https://insights.samsung.com/2019/01/04/the-future-of-retail-mobile-flips-the-economics-of-the-store-floor/
MNI Targeted Media. (2020, September 17). Retrieved October 11, 2020, from https://www.mni.com/blog