Smartphones are an extension of consumers themselves, no matter the time, day or place. These devices accompany consumers everywhere they go and are a treasure-trove of information, especially for retailers as they are a key way to track real intent. With advances in location data and real-time analytics, mobile devices are more important than ever for retailers to analyze consumer behavior. But in what ways can brands ensure they’re activating the data intelligently to build loyalty and drive relevant experiences, and ultimately remain competitive with online brands?
Mobile Data Capabilities Are Growing
Mobile data offers real-time insights at scale into customers’ preferences, locations, experiences and loyalty. By accurately organizing and analyzing this data, retailers can identify high-value customers, understand what motivates them to buy and spend more, and pinpoint successful tactics that increase visits to physical store locations. While the data capabilities have exponentially improved and the number of touchpoints have grown over the years, it remains essential that companies act intelligently on these insights so that interactions with consumers at every level are personalized and relevant, which will in turn increase loyalty.
How Brands Can Effectively Implement This Information
Retailers that use behavioral data to simply attract customers into physical stores and improve their in-store experiences are only scratching the surface. Location data can map customers to individual store locations, which allows brands to analyze local foot traffic to measure the impact of merchandising and advertising strategies, not to mention activate push notifications to drive spontaneous visits and purchases. From there, retailers can understand the best messaging for localized demographics and can make business decisions, like pinpointing specific addresses for new store locations or when to close a location indefinitely.
The Growing E-Commerce Market
Most big-box retailers have an online presence, with brands like Staples and Best Buy shifting their strategies to focus almost entirely on online sales. U.S. shoppers spent nearly $409 billion online in the past year, and Forrester predicts that e-commerce will continue to grow, comprising 17 percent of total retail sales by 2022. Could this mean that retailers will follow the likes of Best Buy and Staples and abandon their physical locations to focus their resources online? Ultimately this depends on whether the brands can remain competitive in targeting the right customers and providing the best experiences, which effectively comes down to having accurate and actionable location data.
However, the rise of e-commerce is not a death threat for brick-and-mortar. In fact, all brands should be leveraging mobile apps, social media, and sophisticated technology and intelligence on the smartphone ecosystem to create a more robust profile of consumers — both online and offline. Without a 360-degree view of a customer across channels in real time, along with a swift and decisive team to act on the intelligence, brands risk losing customers to their competition.
The End of Brick-and-Mortar?
There's a reason why nine of the top 10 U.S. retailers have kept their brick-and-mortar stores open. Physical stores generate a higher conversion rate, and their margins usually remain lower than online purchases. While e-commerce is growing, nearly 85 percent of retail sales still take place in stores. Many consumers still prefer to try on and test products before they buy. However, mobile technologies continue to be a force in the marketing tactics of brands of all sizes.
So, what’s with the mass hysteria from analysts predicting the death of brick-and-mortar? The end of brick-and-mortar will occur if retailers don’t evolve with consumers’ preferences and demands, and recognize the importance of new technologies as well as the insights they can act on from real-time data analytics. Mobile data is the holy grail for these brands, and without activating on the insights, they’ll be out of business next.
Thomas J. Pallack is the CEO of SITO Mobile, a company transforming data into deep insights that power media and research-driven solutions.
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