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Retail Companies Reinventing Themselves with Mobile Technology

The rollout of e-commerce had economists predicting gloom and doom for brick and mortar stores. It didn’t happen. As online selling ramps up, physical stores still play an important role in the buyer’s journey. There is no substitute for hands-on experience, and even with more online shopping, 90 percent of retail sales still happen at a physical location. Leveraging those locations to capture even more sales is a challenge, but mobile is a great way to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

Location, Location, Location

Where a store is located plays a role in the amount of foot traffic that comes through the door, but mobile technology offers ways to entice people a little further away. Hello, Geofencing. This combination of mobile and global positioning technologies gives businesses ways to market directly to the people most likely to buy – those nearby. Some major retailers are already demonstrating how to use this technology effectively.

As Shopkick’s CMO, Kristy Stromberg, notes, “The best use of geofencing, or proximity technology in general, benefits both the shopper and the retailer equally.” That means that stores can send out relevant deals and information to shoppers nearby, in real time. That direct connection to shoppers, enabled by mobile technology, helps boost foot traffic.

Using Location Proactively and Offensively

A geofence marks off a physical boundary around a retail location. Anyone that comes within the boundary is tracked and can receive offers. When used proactively, businesses reach out with coupons or specials to visitors already near their locations. When used offensively, businesses set up geofences around their competition. They track customers entering or near those locations and offer deals in an attempt to re-route those customers. Both uses can help blend the digital world with consumer actions. Brands like Starbucks, L’Oreal, and McDonald’s already use geofencing effectively with loyalty programs and special offers distributed through apps.

Better Beacons for Better Store Experiences

A recent study by Capgemini shows that 80 percent of consumers would pay more if the price increase came with a better in-store experience. In an attempt to provide more to in-store customers, Sephora, a high-end makeup retailer, invested in beacon technology. This allows stores to personalize shopping experiences and engage with customers as they shop. With everything from reactive in-store maps to an in-store wish list and virtual assistant, consumers get an experience like no other. Augmented reality even allows buyers to try on makeup and see how it will look using the app.

Add in chatbots and in-app voice controls, and you have a conversational commerce setting that is completely customer controlled. There is no fear of overselling or overwhelming the customer.

Mobile Takes the Friction Out of Buying

Omnichannel marketing, the idea of breaking down silos between selling methodologies, takes a big hit when the digital experience is separated from brick and mortar buying. Sephora is leading the way by showing how these two experiences can be linked for a seamless switch from digital to real world. For example, when a customer gets an in-store makeover, all of the products used are added to their profile. When they shop online, they can see which products to buy to achieve that look. When customers shop online and then visit a store, they might get special offers tailored around their browsing history.

Every company can benefit from mobile technology and a frictionless buying framework, but success often starts by reorganizing the way you think about marketing and sales. At YouAppi, we find that the most successful companies don’t have a mobile marketing department and a retail marketing department and a separate sales department. Instead, by blending all of these functions into a single department, businesses break down the walls at the top level. With the right approach to mobile technology and the marketing channels available, brick and mortar stores can continue to grow, especially when in-store and online purchases flow together as a single sales funnel.