The increased information accessible through mobile devices flows both ways, and that has created some new challenges for retailers. Just as marketers can access location-based data and an ever-expanding stream of information, consumers also have more data at their fingertips.
Comparison shopping, for example, has become exponentially easier. Because of this, loyalty marketing as a differentiator has taken on a higher degree of urgency.
“Mobile is going to be a huge enabler,” says Don Hamblen, senior vice president of customer marketing at Family Dollar Stores. “Everyone will be walking around with a supercomputer in their hands.”
Hamblen is intrigued by the near-field capabilities of mobile devices, which will enable consumers to self-identify when they are in specific locations, and allow marketers to make purchase suggestions that can be acted on immediately.
In-store offerings will be powered by information gathered through its Family Savings loyalty program, whether on inferred ages of children, or pet ownership, or health. And coupons and other content can be coordinated with Family Dollar's supplier partners, allowing the chain to provide targeted, relevant discounts that will stimulate store traffic.
That said, Hamblen feels discounts are going to diminish as part of the CRM equation, with the focus on cents-off loyalty taking a back seat to information and relevant content triggered through data analysis. “It is going to shift from a quid pro quo to a broader relationship,” he says.
That broader relationship will increasingly include social media.
Family Dollar boasts around 300,000 people who are interacting with it through social channels — primarily Facebook, but some on Twitter as well. “It provides a neat way for people to share things they are passionate about — things around their kids, pets, contests. They have been very popular, and it gives us a way to engage and listen and get a better understanding of what is on their minds.”
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