In March, comScore reported that the number of mobile-only adult Internet users (11.3 percent) surpassed the number of desktop-only Internet users (10.6) for the first time. While the majority of us remain multi-platform, the mobile-only statistic highlights just how many of us now consider mobile our primary access point to the Internet. If you’re a retailer, it also signifies the growing importance of aligning both physical and digital channels to create great and consistent experiences for your customers.
With this in mind and the holiday season just around the corner, here are my top five tips to help every retailer take advantage of the increased foot-traffic to physical store locations in our increasingly mobile-only world.
1. Acquire, Acquire, Acquire
Use the influx of physical store visits this holiday season to promote the existence and unique benefits of your mobile offerings, including apps, SMS messaging services, and mobile sites. Include information regarding sign-ups on bags, receipts, and at cash registers. Educate staff and sales associates to drive subscriptions, downloads, and usage, as well as answer and address any consumer questions or concerns. Last but not least, make sure you follow the golden rule of notice, choice, and access, and be sure to follow TCPA guidelines for SMS messaging opt-ins.
2. Data Collection Consistency
As with any channel, the more personalized and targeted the message or offer, the better the customer experience and end result. The key to building a hyper-relevant and consistent user experience across channels is identity management. Proper functionality of your identity management system can help you expand the number of potential touchpoints and in-store mobile sign-ups with your shoppers. It can also build consistency in data collection across channels.
Request a social ID or email address on apps, SMS messaging sign-ups, credit card applications, loyalty programs, and web-based promotions or purchases. Doing so will allow you to link data across platforms and channels, and help you to identify known shoppers regardless of device or channel. Consequently, this data and knowledge can then be used to inform current as well as future messaging, regardless of channel.
3. Strategic In-Store Promotional Programs
Talk to any retailer preparing for the holiday season, and they will tell you that there are a few key metrics that are always top-of-mind during this time: increasing total revenue, average basket size, and profitability.
This is where data and mobile can be your friends, but you need to do your homework and prepare. Conduct a departmental and SKU analysis. Look at profitability and average purchase size by department. Then design incentives, value-add programs and, if necessary, strategic discounting accordingly.
For example, if the average basket size in the electronics department is $50, design a program that allows users to text in to receive additional rewards points, value-added content such as gaming tips, or discounts tied to purchases of $75 or more. This is the simplest program to execute and it quickly provides big payoffs, as you prepare to increase the targeting and sophistication of your efforts for future years. It enables your database and knowledge to grow.
4. Mobile Ads
According to Deloitte’s 29th Annual Holiday Study, amongst the 72 percent of consumers who will use their smartphones for holiday shopping, 58 percent will do so to find store locations and 52 percent will do so to check prices. Add the fact that mobile ad spending will surpass desktop for the first time this year and you have a compelling reason to bet big on mobile ads this season. Mobile advertising is no longer a “nice to have,” but a must-have for retailers that are serious about reaching consumers on the go, driving in-store traffic, and having repeat visitation.
Correct execution of mobile advertising requires a thoughtful strategy that spans both acquisition and retention. Think about mobile ads that help you acquire new customers, win competitors’ customers, and grow the loyalty you have with existing customers by increasing visits and purchases. Retention strategies should also include retargeting known users within the app and across leading mobile ad networks by leveraging the Advertising ID/IDFA (Apple Identifier for Advertisers), also from within the app.
5. Innovate and Test
More than half of retailers are experimenting with beacons. In fact, recent research has estimated that retailers will spend $670 million on hardware and installation costs related to the Internet of Things. Furthermore, that number is expected to grow to more than $2.5 billion within five years, according to Juniper research. If you haven’t thought about a test this year – you should.
However, attempting to do so during the busy and noisy holiday season can get difficult. Think about isolating a few stores and run a series of test and control programs. Make sure projections and sample sizes are large enough to be statistically relevant.
There is little doubt the world is changing and mobile will increasingly play an important role in our marketing and contact strategy. In today’s increasingly mobile-only world, leveraging these tips can help you get well on your way to creating great customer experiences across both physical and digital channels. Many retailers have already gone all in, but some are still reluctant. If you are one of those hesitant retailers, use this time to set up success for next year.
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