Use Mobile to Add New Life to The Brick & Mortar Experience

Kelly Manthey

7.05.2013

UseMobile_BrickandMortarBased on research findings from the Pew Institute we actually do still use our mobile phones to make calls. The interesting distinction in this report is that they were looking at what we are doing with our mobile phones while in a retail store. 
 
If you pay any attention to the tech headlines, as I do, you would think we've all but abandoned the brick and mortar for our computers and mobile devices and that Best Buy & other big box retailers are teetering on extinction because of Amazon.com. This is not entirely the case. While we may be going less often to a physical retail location, we are going. The opportunity for retailers now is to really capitalize on engagement and customer experience when they have us captive between their walls. In fact, in some ways there has been a mini resurgence of the retail store. According to a recent article posted on on Fast Company.com:
"The store might be the last place brands gain the undivided attention of today’s distracted consumer ".
"Digital offers endless novelty, but only the store creates an immersive, holistic, and fun experience for consumers".
Here are some tips for using mobile to create an awesome customer experience in your store:
First and foremost, educate your employees. Nothing deflates the awesomeness of mobile complimenting in-store experience than the uneducated sales associate. Unfortunately, one of my favorite retailers has fallen victim to this - Target. The luster of the Passbook offer quickly faded when I reached the checkout and the cashier had no idea what it was, how to scan it, or what the discounts applied to. I was instructed to proceed to customer service to finish my transaction (with a toddler and infant in tow). No thanks. Where Target is shining is by recognizing that I'm using my Target app while in the store to locate products. The app tells me what aisle it's in and if it's in stock.
Loyalty cards should be in apps or in Passbook. Tesco makes it easy for folks not already card members to sign-up while in the store at an iPad station. Grocery chains like Wegman's, popular on the East Coast, allow the card to be scanned from their app. You can also view past purchases, create lists, and bar code scan products to add to a list or get more information. Your list is totaled as you add items so you can easily stick to your budget. All of these small features add up to a better experience both inside the store and in preparing to go to the store. Keeping the Wegman's brand front and center in the crowded market for grocery stores.
Any coupons or offers that come in the mail or via email should be accessible and redeemable via the phone. Those coupons that print at the grocery store with your receipt are the perfect use case for offers to be dropped into your app. They are personalized based on what you just purchased and can stay with you on your phone. Taking the next step to remind me about these offers nearing expiration, when I am in the vicinity of the store, or when I am in a competitors location would be helpful.
Bed Bath and Beyond has a great, non-obtrusive, text messaging coupon program. The text with the offer is always there when I need it. No need to remember that post card that's always on my kitchen counter. Taking offers one step further, make the offers dynamic & relevant. You know what I've purchased before and that I'm in the store, so send me relevant offers that seem tailored just to me. A recent study reports that deploying contextually relevant coupons on mobile trigger 51% of consumers to shop in-store.
Add urgency to the offer with an expiration. One high-end sneaker retailer in Guatemala, Meat Pack, took the urgency to the extreme. They used Geofencing in their app to know when a person is in range of a competitor's store. They then pushed an offer to the phone through their HiJack app that starts with a 99% off discount and decreases by the second. The faster the person gets to the store, the greater the discount. This is particularly effective in the mall setting.
Whether it's personalized mobile offers, using mobile to streamline the checkout experience, or making product selection easier, mobile can offer small touches that create competitive advantage and make the overall in-store experience more engaging. Couple these mobile tactics with the urgency of a good old fashioned "Black Friday-esque" door buster and you have the makings of blockbuster revenue generation.
Always interested in hearing examples of how mobile has improved your retail experience. Please share in the comments below. Thanks!