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Why retailers should leverage mobile to activate in-store experiences

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September 17, 2015

Visual search will continue gaining traction in the mobile world

Visual search will continue gaining traction in the mobile world

NEW YORK – A Resource/Ammirati executive at the Mobile Marketing Summit: Wearables and Holiday Focus 2015 stated that retailers must step up efforts to leverage smartphones to activate in-store experiences, including via typically untapped sources such as user-generated content and social media.

During the “Resource/Ammirati: Mobile Integration with Retail: How Well is That Going?” session, the executive highlighted three key trends that brands should leverage in mobile as the holiday season approaches, including ensuring that their mobile initiatives have an in-store component to help with purchasing decisions. Multichannel shoppers have proven to be the most valuable customers for retailers, meaning that marketers must attempt to connect with consumers via mobile as much as they do online or in a bricks-and-mortar location.

“The truth is that we’re well past the emergence of mobile as a channel,” said Christopher Barcelona, executive director of omni experience at Resource/Ammirati, Columbus, OH. “Mobile is no longer simply another touchpoint or marcom channel appearing as a line item in a spreadsheet of marketing activities for the upcoming season.

“Mobile is now the driver. And we use it for everything we do including fueling, augmenting and assisting in our path to purchase as all as for actually transacting for any and all manner of products.”

Mobile Marketer organized the Mobile Marketing Summit: Wearables and Holiday Focus 2015.

Influencing purchase behavior
According to Nielsen, 93 percent of individuals who use mobile devices for shopping research go on to complete a purchase. This highlights the wide berth of consumers who can be targeted with calls-to-action or discounts by brands seeking to sway their decisions.

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Mr. Barcelona presents at Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2015

Mobile is also becoming an irreplaceable in-store shopping companion, with 82 percent of smartphone users leveraging their devices to influence a purchase decision while standing in a store. Therefore, brands must offer accurate price points for products, as well as helpful decision-making tools on mobile, such as product usage or reviews.

Seventy-eight percent of customers with retail credit to a specific store shop daily on their smartphones, meaning that those brands have a wide opportunity to drive transactions on mobile devices.

“Mobile is an absolutely unstoppable force and we as brands and retailers have to get on board,” Mr. Barcelona said.

Multichannel MVPs
Retailers have discovered that multichannel shoppers are in fact the most valuable customers, thanks to their propensity to buy online as well as in-store.

More consumers may become converted into multichannel shoppers with the increasing amount of mobile trends tiptoeing into the retail space. Mr. Barcelona named visual search and shopping as the first trend to make serious waves, especially as major marketers such as Neiman Marcus and JC Penney tap snap-to-shop capabilities for mobile users.

Users can take a photo of a clothing item they fancy and then receive a list of similar or identical shoppable products from the brand.

“This will continue to evolve,” Mr. Barcelona said. “I think we might see a behavior where users may choose to opt in and say, you’re a brand I’m highly passionate about; I’ll grant you access to photos housed on my device and I’ll expect that you leverage that information in exchange for making more accurate suggestions to me on what I may be interested in buying from the brand.”

Another example of this can be seen in Sherwin-Williams updating its ColorSnap Visualizer application to enable consumers to scan individual color chips with their smartphones to virtually paint room scenes, underscoring mobile’s effectiveness at complementing in-store browsing (see story).

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Sherwin-Williams’ ColorSnap Visualizer app

Content and data-driven commerce will also become a must-have for retailers. Mr. Barcelona singled out Zappos’ Gear Tracker application, which taps functions from MapMyFitness to enable users to add their running shoes into the app and view the sneakers’ life cycle.

For example, if a pair of Nike shoes has a life span of 400 miles, the app can recognize when the consumer is ready to replenish the pair or purchase a different brand’s product.

“It’s leveraging the data that I’m producing by tracking my fitness activity to drive relevant recommendations that are accurate and on-brand for me,” Mr. Barcelona said.

He concluded by advising retailers to take note of three key trends in mobile: leveraging the technology to active in-store experiences, using the untapped resources of social and UGC and thinking mobile-first.

“Brands and retailers really need to be considering the role that social and UGC play in driving that decision to buy,” Mr. Barcelona said. “How does social directly integrate into the shopping process and help build confidence in my purchase?

“Mobile is the go-to mechanism. It’s where I start, it’s what I come back to.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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