2016 proved that digital is the way of life, which means mobile capabilities need to be incorporated into any brand or retailer’s sales strategy. Many brick-and-mortar stores are reaching for new ideas and new digital tactics to increase revenue. From blending online and offline brand experiences to finding new ways to engage with customers, there are a few things that brands and retailers can learn from 2016.
Creating Mobile-First Experiences
The newest generation of shoppers are what the industry is calling "mobile-first" shoppers — i.e., they're more likely to make their first interaction with a brand or retailer via a mobile device. Between mobile sites and native apps, brands have a never-ending list of new ways to interact with consumers. The mobile-first mentality has successfully been adapted in the travel, social and transportation industries, including well-known brands such as Uber and Airbnb.
Apps load in a fraction of the time of a web page — typically within less than a second! Faster connection times result in more engagement, and more engagement generally results in higher conversions (i.e., sales). Smartphone apps allow you to use the camera, GPS and other features to interact with your potential customers that are unavailable when accessing a brand through its mobile site.
Blending Online and Offline
Retailers have been striving for years to achieve a seamless omnichannel marketing approach, where customers get a unified shopping experience whether online, a mobile device, an app or in-store.
The only brand to do this seamlessly to this point is the new popular gaming app Pokemon Go.
The app blends an online experience with real life experiences. Pokemon Go uses smartphone capabilities such as a camera and GPS to retrieve data on the user’s location while they interact with the app and hunt for virtual Pokemon. Brick-and-mortar retailers should learn from this app to create an experience for consumers to connect their in-store and online experiences.
Targeting Local Consumers
When a user downloads an app, they're often prompted with a question to access their location. This turns their GPS data on while using this app, enabling brands and retailers to use geofencing services to access their location and send them information/offers. A geofence uses GPS signals to send promotions, notifications or incentives to anyone who enters or exits a specific area.
Brands can set their own parameters to create hyperlocal campaigns to a target audience. There are many different ways to geofence, including sending automated SMS to customers and displaying social media ads. This is an effective strategy to get those nearby into your brick-and-mortar store.
Timing and Mobile Use
According to Maribeth Ross, senior vice president of marketing at Monetate, 2016 holiday shoppers were more comfortable buying big-ticketed items on their phone rather than in-store, and they waited until closer to Christmas to purchase their items than in previous years.
With how frequently mobile devices are being used for online shopping, and with how little the screens are, Ross suggests that retailers focus on making their mobile sites and apps easy to navigate, minimize pop-ups and use badges to help consumers recognize certain items quickly and identify items with specials — e.g., free shipping. Having an easy-to-navigate site (mobile or desktop) will help conversion rates.
Stephanie Mialki is a content writer at DealsPlus.com, a leading consumer shopping, coupon and deal site.