Building brand recognition and redefining how you will communicate with your customers in these technology-crazed times are no longer simply interesting questions to ponder if you're a retailer. The answers may very well determine your survival.
While many still speculate that figuring out how to handle the mobile-enabled shopper is merely worrying about an emerging trend, it is truly a trend that retailers need to begin taking seriously. Upcoming generations are now turning to their mobile devices for coupons, specific product information, brand comparisons and more. Simply stated, mobile applications for smartphones are poised to be the future for retailer communications with shoppers.
This technology today is becoming a virtual extension of the shelf edge and a vitally important component of retail marketing plans.
The information from survey after survey is more telling than ever. A recently published Deloitte survey confirms 57 percent of consumers already feel they would be interested in receiving a coupon on their phone. Indeed, many shoppers already use mobile technology as part of their shopping, and the sooner retailers begin looking for ways to incorporate this medium into their broader marketing communication plans, the sooner they will begin capturing those shoppers and reaping the benefits.
“The waiting-it-out period is over. Retailers of all kinds will begin integrating the use of mobile technology across all their marketing platforms. It's about delivering a consistent and relevant shopper message that encourages loyalty and results in increased revenue,” explained Lauren Sosik, a veteran retail analyst.
While it's fair to say returns have been mixed regarding all the attention many retailers have focused on building a presence and communicating with customers online, the mobile Web is about putting brand promotion directly into the shopper's hand.
Think about it—downloadable information could contain weekly specials, new product arrivals targeted toward specific customers, weekly shooting tips and in-store promotions.
Add to this the fact that smartphone apps can be (and many already have been) developed that can deliver a shopper's history within your store directly to them to aid them in putting together a shopping list for their next visit. You can time this app during a specific promotion that might interest the customer based on a recent purchase they made. They just bought a new DSLR—well a few weeks later might be a good time to let them know about some new lenses, media, bags, etc. that just came in or went on sale.
The technology has even reached the point where applications could work with a smartphone's GPS-like ability to identify where the user of the mobile device is at any given moment. A retailer could provide a shopper not only with the directions to the their nearest store but also the layout of that store. A shopper could call up their list on their mobile phone and be directed to the very spot where a product is on the shelf.
Today's consumers are looking for this type of engagement mainly because it's meaningful, personal and simplifies their shopping experience. While mobile marketing is still in its infancy, the numbers are beginning to indicate its coming out party is nearing. Don't be caught off guard when it arrives. Don't only be prepared to participate, be prepared to profit.