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Mobile site for potential customers, app for loyalists: experts

September 19, 2011

A key challenge for retailers is finding ways to drive consumers in-store to make a purchase. Mobile is the solution, according to experts.

Brands need to think outside the box, and at the same time, develop programs that will not overwhelm potential shoppers. In particular, retailers need to incorporate loyalty and rewards programs, keep their applications simple and include content to the shopping experience.

“If I’m a consumer, I don’t want to have to run around a store to find a deal that I’m not interested in,” said Maya Mikhailov, cofounder and vice president of client strategy at GPShopper, New York.

“But if you know I’m already a member of the store’s loyalty program, it’s a good time to present an offer,” she said.

Loyalty rules
Targeting loyalty and rewards program users via mobile is an effective strategy, per Ms. Mikhailov.

Mobile shopping is on the rise and retailers could be missing out on extra revenue if the experience is not up to par.

When targeting a loyal shopper, it is important to keep the mobile experience simple and easy to use.

Express consumers could receive deals as an incentive of using the retailer’s app

“Consumers are already pressed for time, so mobile’s goal should be to make it easier for them,” Ms. Mikhailov said.

According to Ms. Mikhailov, retailers should be figuring out ways to incorporate mobile into the in-store shopping experience.

Ms. Mikhailov suggests more in-store signage to direct consumers to specific areas of the store and recommend additional products.

Outside the box
It is easy to think of mobile as an extension of a brand’s Web site, but retailers need to understand that it is an entirely different medium.

Therefore, a mobile Web site needs to be built with the on-the-go user in mind. Search functionality should be front and center.

When building mobile apps, retailers should keep the loyal on-the-go customer top of mind.

Apps are designed for more loyal shoppers, since they are a way to create a deep relationship with consumers.

“The point of an application is to engage and interact with consumers to create something outside of the Web experience,” said Tina Chilip, marketing communications manager at Usablenet, New York.

“Apps are only for loyal customers,” she said. “If you are able to make them aware of promotions and other engaging things happening in-store, consumers will be more likely to pick up your app.”

Retailers can use mobile apps to help consumers make purchase decisions.

For example, one way that a brand can leverage the in-store experience within an app is to let consumers scan products to find out more information about them or find the item at other nearby stores.

Using an app, consumers can scan QR codes at the retailer PacSun

Brands can also stimulate shopping via mobile by giving users access to unique, in-store experiences, such as finding the music that is currently being played in stores.

Retailers can bolster sales by using location to drive traffic.

Keep it relevant
Another difficult area for retailers is the small screen on the device.

Therefore, it is important to include only the most crucial features when developing an app or a mobile site. Store locators must be included.

“We see infinitely more people who are browsing by location versus just looking for products with retailers’ apps,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Digby, Austin, TX.

An additional benefit of apps is that they have the potential to target users based on their preferences and past purchases.

According to Mr. Lowden, retailers need to make mobile an aggressive part of in-store shopping in addition to promoting it in other marketing initiatives.

“It is really important to think of mobile as not just a Web site or an app,” Mr. Lowden said. “It’s about creating a cross-channel experience and engagement for consumers.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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