By Jason Trout
Mobile may be a relatively new channel for retailers, and it certainly is a different playing field compared to other channels, but at the end of the day many retailers find that the components that make up a winning mobile strategy are still pretty basic.
Merchants can create gorgeous mobile websites and roll out cool apps, games, and other unique campaigns, but ultimately, the most important mobile capabilities retailers are enabling fall into three buckets:
1. Giving customers the ability to search for and select merchandise quickly and easily
2. Enabling customers to find and redeem offers
3. Letting customers pay for products using a method that’s convenient for them
Any mobile offering or campaign created for the purposes of bringing people into a physical store should cover at least one (if not all) of the above components in order to be successful. We’ll take a look at the tactics retailers can implement to do just that:
1. Tap into high usage location-based apps
Retailers that want to make it easy for mobile users to find their stores and products should start by increasing their mobile visibility. The easiest way to do this is to get listed on review and check-in services such as Yelp and Foursquare.
Millions of people are already using these apps to find and vet businesses, and merchants who put themselves in front of those users will be able to drive traffic and sales into their stores.
Another big player in the mobile realm is PayPal, which now lets people pay using their account. Shoppers can simply check into a business using their mobile app and make a payment without having to whip out their wallet.
Aside from giving retailers the ability to be more flexible with payments, PayPal also lists participating businesses in its app and enables nearby shoppers to find them. This is a great way to appeal to people who only have their phones on them as well as users who would rather use their PayPal account to complete purchases.
One notable example of a major retailer using PayPal is The Home Depot. By adopting the solution, the home improvement retailer is not only giving shoppers additional payment options, it’s also putting itself in front of nearby PayPal app users, in turn increasing its mobile visibility and potentially increasing in-store traffic and sales.
2. Use geo-conquesting to reel in your competitors’ customers
Another way to drive in-store traffic is implementing a strategy called geo-conquesting, where retailers target mobile users who are in the proximity of their competitors.
Geo-conquesting worked pretty well for Outback Steakhouse, which saw an 11% increase “on conversion actions such as access to a store locator.” How did Outback do it? According to a case study by xAd, the company ran a geo-conquesting campaign and served up ads to users who were within a 5-mile radius of other casual dining restaurants.
3. Let users find and redeem deals using their mobile device
Merchants looking to reel in more mobile users should go beyond increasing the visibility of their products or stores and also focus on boosting the “findability” of their deals or offers.
One retailer doing mobile deals quite well is Target. Its branded Cartwheel app lets users find and redeem deals using their phone. Coupons can be organized and sorted by category, popularity, date, and more, enabling shoppers to easily zero in on the deals that they want.
4. Make ordering or purchasing more convenient
Inconveniences such as long lines and lengthy checkout processes are some of the biggest turn-offs for customers shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Successful mobile initiatives are addressing these issues by making it easy for shoppers to order ahead and have their items ready for pickup.
Consider Walgreen’s. The pharmacy’s mobile app has a number of features that make shopping more convenient and help customers save time. The app has a “Refill by Scan” feature that lets people refill their prescriptions simply by scanning the barcode on their Rx label.
It also offers a number of photo printing capabilities that enable users to set up photo prints of images on their phone or Instagram account and pick them up at the nearest Walgreen’s location.
Similarly, Starbucks is also exploring the concept of mobile ordering. The coffee company is in the process of testing an order-ahead feature that lets customers use their mobile device to place an order before they’re at the store (or in some cases, while they’re in line).
A retailer’s mobile presence or specific campaign can go in a number of different directions and there are a variety of tactics to consider implementing to drive people into brick and mortar stores. But no matter what type of mobile strategy a store may have, its alignment with the basic needs of customers must be number one.
Jason Trout is the VP of Marketing at ShoppinPal. He can be reached at Jason@shoppinpal.com.