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Driving retail revenue through mobile apps

Posted By a MCD columnist On December 27, 2012 @ 2:00 am In Columns,Featured,Opinion | 1 Comment

Jeremy Black is director of retail at Xtreme Labs [1]

Jeremy Black is director of retail at Xtreme Labs

By Jeremy Black [2]

With more than 114 million U.S. consumers using smartphones as of July 2012, and retail being one of the fastest-growing sectors in mobile, smart devices are quickly opening new revenue channels for retailers.

However, although most retailers understand the importance of mobile and have started investigating ways to engage their customers, many have not used the medium to its full potential. This shift provides significant opportunities for retailers to drive revenue, but it requires a proactive rather than a reactive approach.

A retailer’s investment in its mobile application should return direct results by generating revenue. Based on my experience helping dozens of retailers implement mobile solutions, here are three specific ways retailers drive revenue in this brave new shopping world.

Go Big Data to deliver better customer experiences
Mobile apps hold vast amounts of real-time data. With mobile app analytics, retailers have access to customer behavior, giving them the ability to know and understand their customer better than ever, while creating the means to deliver a customized experience. Here are some specific ways to deliver better customer experiences:

Customize communications: Communications can be timed to best meet a customer’s schedule and the content can be tailored to the user. Is the user more interested in a deal on jeans or a new store location close to her house?

Influence purchase decisions in-store: App data on coupon usage or shopping habits can be used to offer in-store details or upsell the customer on specific items.

Cater and streamline business: Retailers now have access to data on a customer’s reaction to their offerings, in the form of reviews and ratings. This data will allow retailers to be more agile, collect feedback quicker and cater their offerings to their customers’ wants.

Intelligent targeting: Use smarter push notifications
In today’s connected and mobile-driven world, traditional advertising alone is no longer sufficient to drive revenue. With the penetration of smartphones, retailers need to take advantage of the opportunity to connect with customers anywhere at any time.

Using push notifications, retailers can use targeted messaging to drive customers to their store. Notifications can be used to send updates such as new stock notices, shipment status or upcoming sales.

Now with segmentation and localization features, retailers can specifically message customers when they are close to the store, with the goal of pulling them in to shop.

When used effectively, customized push notifications are a powerful marketing tool that promotes increased engagement and provides retailers with a strategic means to drive revenue.

Do as Apple does: Create internal apps
An optimal internal app should empower employees
to deliver better customer service.

Features such as up-to-date product information, complementary lines or upsell messaging provide employees with the tools they need to convert browsers into buyers.

Because the probability of sale is highly dependent on the quality of the salesperson, customers are more likely to interact with a sales associate who can provide valuable information quickly.

This means that an employee who is not well versed in product details or options is at high risk of not properly identifying and matching a customer’s needs to a product in-store. Sales are lost to competitors, rather than shifted to alternative product lines.

MOBILE DEVICES provide organizations with an unprecedented amount of visibility, control and consistency in the sales process. An optimal enterprise app should accept customer requirements and output product recommendations for employees to offer.

When analytics are added, head offices have access to accurate and detailed reporting that influences product development, marketing and strategy. Accurate, real-time customer feedback will enable companies to make better strategic decisions and have an advantage over their competition.

Retailers who invest in the three areas above will successfully use mobile to increase their revenue across all channels.

Jeremy Black is director of retail at Xtreme Labs [2], Toronto. Reach him at jeremy.black@xtremelabs.com [3].

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