Mobile Musings: Phone Home
Today’s retail landscape is anything but stable. Mall anchors are struggling. Macy’s is planning to close 100 stores and many other mall-based specialty retailers are revising their third- and fourth-quarter revenue and earnings guidance downward. However, by and large, consumers prefer shopping at malls rather than online “for any occasion,” according to a recent survey by Simon Property Group.
However, consumer mobile engagement has never been stronger, especially when it comes to using mobile for purchase decisions. Mobile has become a retailer’s new “front door.” Brands need to apply refined customer engagement strategies to drive in-store visits from mobile shoppers. Many retailers are transforming their approaches and capitalizing on the shifting retail sands in a number of ways. In particular, they’re focused on acquiring new customers and getting back into the “black” this holiday season.
Don’t Doubt the Power of Social Media on Mobile
While social platforms aren’t the primary driver for retail purchases, they play a distinct role as mobile brand ambassadors and have evolved beyond window shopping options with in-platform links for quick transactions. During the holiday shopping season, consumers will likely increase their reliance on mobile to research purchases — social media channels can easily sway and facilitate buying decisions.
For example, Abercrombie & Fitch has 3.1 million followers on Instagram who have opted in to follow the retailer’s posts. These consumers have indicated a clear interest in Abercrombie’s products and are likely using Instagram as another way to “window shop” with intent to buy. This digital engagement point helps drive the consumer into Abercrombie’s brick-and-mortar stores as well as onto its website, as users are seamlessly directed to products online. Abercrombie’s social platforms link back into its overall digital strategy no matter where the touchpoint originates, giving the brand a chance to extend its reach without diluting the overall marketing strategy.
Facebook Offers is an example of a social retail service that allows consumers to “save” Facebook advertisers’ digital coupons to a central location, including sending reminders about when certain offers are set to expire. This functionality offers retailers another level of stickiness when it comes to social engagement following through to a transaction.
Address Millennials’ Mobile Needs
Attracting new customers requires a nimble approach that caters to their needs without requiring heavy time investment or personal information sharing. Gone are the days when a retail mobile strategy simply meant having a native app. As many brands struggle with shrinking stores, tapping into high opportunity demographic groups, like millennials, is key for revitalization. Millennials spend more money online than any other age group, according to PayPal, and are expected to control $7 trillion in liquid assets by 2020, per research from FirstData. This group holds enormous purchasing power, and must be addressed differently.
To acquire millennials this holiday season, retailers must look beyond traditional mobile marketing approaches. Millennials are often discerning about which native apps to download, and are likely using other mobile shopping tools such as Wi-Fi-powered apps that offer immediate value. Ultimately, smartphones are the primary gateway to millennials’ buying decisions — i.e., they’re relying extensively on mobile-driven information before, during and after the purchase process. This includes while they’re shopping inside physical stores.
As the holiday shopping (and spending) season ramps up, retailers can make the most of consumer wallet share opportunities by using mobile as a leading component of their integrated digital marketing strategies. This includes deepening social channel interactions and evolving marketing outreach tactics to meet the unique needs of millennial shoppers, who have immense sway over retailers’ holiday season revenue generation potential.
Allan Haims is the CEO of StepsAway, an online platform that enables brick-and-mortar retailers to create and deliver offers and promotions to smartphones.