Mobile devices and apps are changing how consumers interact with products and services. Thanks to the smartphone and tablet’s portability and connectivity, consumers can now shop anywhere, anytime, and with information always at their fingertips. As a result, retailers and brands are looking for new ways to engage shoppers and influence their behaviors more effectively.
Mobile is changing the brick-and-mortar experience for retail brands, according to analyst Harry Wang. Harry oversees Parks Associates’ mobility and apps research, which covers mobile/wearable devices and services, apps and APIs, and mobile commerce/marketing, payment, and connected car industries.
In today’s blog, Harry explains why it’s all about delivering the right message at the right moment.
THE NEW SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Smartphones and tablets are new shopping platforms for consumers globally. They can receive an almost non-stop stream of curated information from retailers and brands if they opt in to do so. Adding other types of push notifications—app-based alerts, text messages, updates from Facebook friends, news about game scores—shoppers are bombarded with so much information that retailers and brands now find it difficult to catch their target shoppers in the right “moment.”
The shopper’s “path-to-purchase” is also far less linear: A fragmented shopper attention span leads to less predictable shopper behaviors. Given the challenges to reach and engage mobile shoppers, retailers have to engage them in whatever digital platform these consumers are on and as much as possible at each touch point. For instance, when shoppers are out on the street, retailers can detect shoppers’ proximity to their store. When shoppers enter a store, retailers can track at which store sections shoppers stop, whether shoppers know what they want, and their app usage inside the store. When shoppers are ready to check out, their digital wallet app can notify retailers about shoppers’ memberships and reward status. When the purchase is complete and shoppers leave comments or brag about new buys on their social networks, more behavioral and perception data can be collected.
Collecting the right data with rich contextual information is only the first step. Retailers still need to make the best use of such data and unlock its power for their advantage. Big data analytics solution providers promise unique algorithms and easy-to-use decision support tools for retailers; however, their solutions’ quality and utility vary substantially.
Key questions that retailers want answered through advanced analytics for their omnichannel strategy include the following:
- Which attributes distinguish buyers from shoppers?
- What can be done to improve merchandising mix to maximize sales?
- Which promotions work, and more importantly, why are shoppers not responding to offers?
- How can data about customer behaviors improve inventory management and supply chain efficiency?
- How competitive are store prices compared with others’?
- Lastly, retailers must learn to convert shoppers to buyers by delivering the right message at the right moment.
THE FUTURE OF SHOPPER MARKETING
While mobile is changing the brick-and-mortar experience for retail brands, the avalanche of data is fundamentally changing how marketers target consumers with ads, as well as how they design and serve these ads. And data is only getting more voluminous.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will generate new streams of data and create more intelligent information and communications infrastructures that potentially help retailers and brands engage shoppers and influence their behaviors ever more effectively. Specifically, the following IoT applications may play a big role in future shopper marketing:
- Wearables: From smartwatches and fitness trackers today to smart shirt and earbuds in the future, wearables incorporate intelligent sensors that collect hyper-personal data and behavioral clues. Wearables will provide new dimensional data about consumers for marketers; this in turn can build more detailed shopper profiles for targeting and marketing.
- Smart Cities: Smart city IoT applications, ranging from connected parking meters and security cameras to smart displays and logistical management applications, are another area of innovation that can benefit retailers and brands. These industrial IoT applications may provide relevant information to consumers and retailers about shopping factors such as traffic patterns, or make a city’s real estate infrastructure more intelligent so that retailers can benefit from additional ways to increase store traffic and convert more sales.
- Augmented reality: The in-store shopping experience can be enhanced through augmented reality applications that provide information at the users’ fingertips. For instance, American Apparel offers an app that shoppers can use by pointing their phone’s camera at a piece of clothing. The app would show the same clothes on screen in different colors, accompanied by user reviews and additional product details. It would also know and display whether the shopper’s preferred color and size is in stock. Finally, the app can offer shoppers the option to buy the merchandise online if the item is out of stock. These in-store shopping aide applications will help retailers create a more convenient shopping experience for their customers, resulting in higher conversion rates from shopping to buying.
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