How can retailers embrace mobile marketing in-store?

Guest author - Daniel Lee

50% of shoppers don't see the benefit of using their phone in a store.
(Source: Internet Retailing

In the age of connected technology, predictive analytics and personalisation, I was disappointed to hear that this figure was so high. Surely consumers can get more benefit from using their phone in store than not using it; if this is the case, why is this stat so low then?

How do people use phones in store currently?

Consumers who use their phone in stores are predominantly price checking with other local stores, along with retailers online, and checking stock/variant availability. 

Retailers don't like this, as it will likely lead the customers to leave their store and shop where the price is cheapest, or at least a little cheaper. There is a known phenomenon called 'showrooming' which is when customers want to buy a product online, but go to a store with no intention of buying it from there, but want to see it first.

Isn't this whole process a little mundane though? Stores could do a better job in serving these technologically enabled customers by understanding their purchase behaviours and adapting their approach.

How do stores accommodate phone usage?

Most stores simply don't accommodate customers using mobile phones in stores; in fact, a fair amount of retailers keep their WiFi locked and to their staff only and don't spare a thought for how it could improve the purchase journey of the customer or increase customer loyalty with the brand.

With all the technological advancement in the web, stores have struggled to keep up; maybe this is a contributing factor to why the highstreet is dying. Maybe if stores were as responsive to technology as the web is there wouldn't be so much of a downward trend in store performance.

How could retailers improve attitudes towards phone usage?

As with any change in strategic direction, it helps to know what users are doing in your store. Websites get web analytics - why shouldn't stores?

There are services out there (such as Walkbase) which specialise and excel in providing retailers with consumer insight into how their shoppers interact with your store. Just like web analytics, this allows store owners to adapt accordingly and provide their consumer with an enhanced shopping experience. There are ways that retailers can use technology to improve poor store experience; it's down to the retailer to embrace technology and focus on the customer.

Once retailers know what their customers are doing in store, they can make an informed data driven decision and improve their consumers' shopping experience.

Getting personal

In some stores you will see retailers embracing video technology. What if the video on screen was personalised to the shopper's browsing behaviour? What if when a visitor picked up a pair of shoes in front of the screen, the screen changes to reveal stock info, colours available, sizes etc?

Retailers could also use technology to see the visitor's path through their store and serve relevant content to the customer during critical times. Eg - A customer walks into a store and walks past the handbags and shoes. They walk up to a pair of jeans spend a few minutes looking them over and then head to the till to ask a question.

Whilst in the queue, their phone vibrates in their pocket. The customer takes a glance at their phone and they read that the particular jeans the store has on display which they looked at are exclusive to their store, there are only 3 in stock. 56 customers have rated the product, giving an average rating of 4 and a half stars. The company offers a 30-day return policy and the customer can save 15% off the jeans when they spend £40 in store. The customer picks up the jeans and now takes a look at the jumpers on display.

In this example, the retailer hasn't given anything away to the customer that they weren't already doing. The retailer has provided timely and relevant messaging to the consumer right when they needed it. Furthermore, they have up sold the customer whilst the staff were busy serving other customers.

I strongly believe that this is how the store of the future will operate. I say 'store of the future' but the technology is already available and all retailers need to do is embrace it.

This is a very simple example of how adapting to serve customers could improve their shopping experience. If all consumers received a service like this during the purchase process, it would be hard for them to say they can't see the value in using their phone in stores.

The web will always have an advantage over store when it comes to easily being able to see a vast catalogue quickly from the convenience of your living room, nothing will change this. Stores benefit from being able to give consumers the products instantly, though, rather than wait for delivery. They also benefit from customers being able to see the product close up and to interact with it - retailer's shouldn't let this key advantage go to waste. 

For customers to see value in using their phones in store, retailers need to see the value of their customers using phones in store.

The Key Takeaway

To the retailers out there, take a look into store analytics, open up your WiFi to customers and analyse what they are doing in your store. Use this data and insight to drive personalised experiences to your customers to improve commercial performance and increase customer loyalty and retention.

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This blog post is written by a guest writer Daniel Lee, a great mind in web analytics and digital marketing. You can contact him via LinkedIn or Twitter.


Walkbase provides a retail analytics solution for improving the impact of marketing on physical stores and personalising in-store shopping experience.