What Technology Has in Store for the Retail Industry
Retailers have countless opportunities to creatively reach consumers through mobile devices — and it's not just limited to smartphone users. One-hundred percent of all mobile phones receive text messages, which means retailers can effectively reach customers and prospects to engage them on a personal basis. Consumers expect instant gratification in their multichannel interactions with retailers. There are many more social ADD consumers that would rather text than talk; they're very comfortable using mobile devices to buy things online.
The Mobile Movement
It's no longer a question of if you should integrate mobile into your marketing plans, but when and how. Here are some ways to integrate and innovate with mobile:
1. Rewards/loyalty. Build a loyalty program that allows customers to enroll while in-store, track purchases and redeem points — all from their mobile device. Where will the plastic card be in five years? Retailers need to mobilize their rewards program now and plan for the future.
2. Shopper insights. SMS (aka text messages) can also be a very effective way to get instant customer feedback. It also enables retail managers to adjust customer service practices in real time.
3. Coupons. Do you know anything about the paper coupons you distribute? Was the coupon you put in the newspaper redeemed? Adding mobile functionality to your advertisements and giving coupons to prospects and customers digitally provides richer data, faster results, 10 times more redemptions and highly personalized remarketing campaigns.
4. Mobile web and apps. Another way to reach consumers through their mobile device is via a mobile-optimized website and/or app that houses your products for browsing, storing and purchase. This allows consumers to shop on their terms, a key point to increasing your number of mobile transactions. If we look back to the 2011 holiday season, 67 percent of consumers said they would make a purchase via a mobile device. Consumers are already shifting their behavior to shopping via mobile; now it's up to retailers to deliver a worthwhile mobile shopping experience for them.
Shopping Like Judy Jetson
Some of the coolest technologies for retailers are augmented reality apps and mobile wallets. Augmented reality has been around for quite some time, but until recently it's been relegated to the high-tech and scientific communities. This is due to the fact that prior to smartphones, augmented reality required a bulky headset or other device that wasn't user friendly. Smartphone technology has fixed this problem, giving consumers the power to access augmented reality at the touch of their fingertips on a device that's familiar to them.
Imagine the new shopping experience, where consumers are equipped with a mobile device and your augmented reality app. Imagine they receive an alert via SMS that a new product is in-store, go to your mobile website and preload their body image into the virtual store. Once there, they can view the item on their body, change its color, accessorize it with other products, add it to their mobile cart and purchase it — all without leaving their home. Opportunities like this are already in development and will prove to be a game changer in the retail space.
While augmented reality may be the most out-of-the-box mobile addition to the retail industry this year, it's important to note that mobile is changing retail in all aspects. Payment solutions, supply, demand and now even dressing rooms are all shifting towards mobile. This trend will only gain momentum as the year goes on.