We’re all aware that mobile is changing retail in multiple ways. Most obviously, in any form of multi-channel retail, mobile is fast becoming the most popular and profitable channel. That stands to reason – all those billions of smart devices, each examined somewhere in the order of 150 times a day. No wonder we end up buying things on them!

But mobile is also set to change the bricks-and-mortar retail landscape completely. Although we do use mobile to make purchases directly, It is important to understand that consumers also see the mobile as providing instant access to information about products and services – the sort of information that helps them reach a purchasing decision.

In the retail context, that’s why you’ll see people take out their mobile in-store to check user reviews of a particular item, or compare prices. It’s completely natural, and some smart mobile retailers clearly use that behavior to their advantage. So if you’re in retail, it might be an idea to ask yourself this question: “do I want users turning to MY app, or a competitor’s app, when they look for that information?”

When you’ve chosen the former option(!), here’s a few ways you might consider to make that happen and make a mobile a part of the in-store experience:

  1. Connect the in-store and mobile experience. iBeacons enable you to trigger in-mobile campaigns as customers enter different areas of the store – from large spaces to quite specific small areas relating to individual products and brands. That opens up a world of possibilities, from notifying users about current promotions via push campaigns, to in-app messages and content that provides more information on nearby items. Consider them all!
  2. Bring digital data to the in-store party. Digital channels have one huge advantage: they offer the ability to collect data relating to almost every aspect of the consumer. You can turn that to your advantage in store. Whilst you may be running multiple promotions on any one day, it is possible to ensure that each individual sees only those relevant to him or her – based on their prior behavior in the mobile app or online. That means more effective marketing – and it also cuts down on irritation!
  3. Build in-store companion apps. Don’t make the mistake of believing that just because you are a retailer, any app you build has to sell directly. A store companion app can provide valuable location-sensitive content and campaigns, and can be integrated with the in-store experience by, for example, supporting a ‘call a sales assistant’ function.
  4. Remember that behavior in store can also be shared with other channels. Beacon technology now enables retailers to have a complete ‘map’ of user behavior within the store, and can even report ‘dwell time’ in front of specific products or product categories. If a specific user has spent 15 minutes browsing Karen Millen dresses, that information can be used to personalize mobile and online experiences (and campaigns) in the future. Think of it as offline to online retargeting!