Using mobile marketing to customize in-store shopping experiences

We know that engaging customers is important for business. In fact, last month, a report by the recruiting company Korn/Ferry International revealed that customer engagement is the top concern of CMOs, particularly how to create engaging and sustainable customer relationships. Additionally,

Synqera recently conducted a study that revealed some interesting customer insights. Most notably,

4/5 of those surveyed responded that they would prefer to shop in a store that provides an overall customized shopping experience.

With 80% of consumers looking for a customized shopping experience, combined with the concern CMOs have for engaging customers, it is clear that new strategies are needed – and mobile should come to mind as an area with a great deal of potential.

Smartphones now link consumers to the internet and media like never before, and a new opportunity is emerging to customize the brick and mortar shopping experience by utilizing mobile technology. There has been a push for companies and brands to create mobile marketing strategies as mobile usage becomes widespread, yet the mobile sector is still relatively new and largely unexplored. However, some businesses are already taking advantage of the opportunity.

What mobile offers is another channel for businesses to interact with consumers, especially through scanning technologies such as QR codes and NFC tags. For example, Walmart and P&G Mobile recently launched a QR code program creating mobile stores inside bus shelters. People waiting for the bus can scan QR codes with their phones to purchase items, and have them delivered for free. This is also an example of how mobile offers a chance for multiple interactions, speeding up the trust-building process.

Why customer engagement?

As the above data suggests, consumers prefer to have a customized shopping experience. And by engaging customers and creating interactions, businesses also create loyalty.

Simply interacting with consumers increases their familiarity with your business, and most would agree we feel more comfortable around things we are familiar with. Interactions and engagement create a kind of ‘track record’ with consumers, and repeated successful interactions build up trust and in turn, loyalty. Repeated interactions can also lead to a business becoming the ‘routine solution’ for a consumer’s need or want; anything (including customer engagement) that can make a consumer’s life easier usually benefits the business.

Customer loyalty can pay off as repeated sales interactions, and high potential for positive word-of-mouth advertising. The hope is to maximize the lifetime value of each customer.

Mobile caters to diverse crowds

Around the world and especially in North America, populations are becoming more diverse. As detailed in a past blog post, the minority population in North America is growing at a rapid rate. In 30 years, Caucasians will actually be the minority instead of the majority.

As retailers move to take advantage of the changing demographics, mobile technology can help businesses interact with consumers who don’t necessarily speak English. Mobile allows for easy translation from English (or most languages, for that matter) to whichever language the user is most comfortable with. No matter what a customer’s native language, if she has a smartphone, she will likely have the default language set to something she can understand easily.

Although the current translation services from Google give a good general idea of the content, much can be lost going from language to language; sometimes there is no direct translation. Still, many global brands make the effort so their web pages, advertisements, product information, reviews, and more can all be translated to convey their messages properly.

What have businesses been doing?

Social Media: The most prevalent strategy that nearly all businesses employ is social media. With mobile, consumers now have the opportunity to visit social media sites and interact with stores and brands while they are shopping. Stores can offer special deals or sales via their social sites, or even make selling suggestions. Of course, the challenge is to prompt shoppers to visit these social media sites – proper signage or special in-store promotions could help.

Phone/mobile Apps: Many retailers and brands are also creating their own mobile applications. Although getting customers to download phone apps can be tricky, there are obvious benefits. Aside from increased brand recognition, apps also allow businesses to keep interactions between customers ongoing, and give the brand more chances to create loyalty. For example, Walmart’s app allows users to interact with ads, view store Rollbacks, new products, and more.

Customer tracking: ‘Customer tracking’ sounds somewhat ugly, but gathering customer data helps businesses better understand their shoppers. Piercarlo Gera, author and global managing director for Accenture’s Distribution and Marketing Services, tells about Burberry’s solution: “The Company’s application acts as a real-time hub which gathers and makes customer information accessible to store employees. When customers enter a Burberry store, employees can pull up their profile on iPads and view contact details, transactions history, lifetime spending statistics…”

By knowing more about customer preferences, specialized offers or suggestions can be made that result in extra sales.

Show me something new

Audible Tags: A recent innovation in mobile marketing is the Audible Tag. Audible Tags are audio clips that can be attached to QR codes, NFC tags, and more. These codes can be placed on nearly anything – product labels, advertisements, online, etc. Users simply scan a code with their smartphone, and are directed to a unique microsite that provides a short but useful audio information clip on products, product categories and/or product accessories.

Businesses can get creative with their messaging and offer customers special audio promotions, use expert or celebrity endorsement, and more. In addition, Audible Tags offer multiple language playback options to cater to diverse crowds. More information about Audible Tags is available on the Antvibes website.