Do you remember how shopping felt without Amazon and eBay? TV and print used to be the most effective communication channels to reach out to the customers. The customers used to spend a lot of time in the stores, to explore the products. And purchase decisions were made inside the stores. The customers didn’t have a choice but to come to the stores.That time was valued by every retailer and they expanded their network rapidly.
Now, the equation has changed; invention of ECommerce has brought the stores inside the customer’s house, virtually. It has disrupted the market and forced all the retailers to rethink about their expansion plans. It is not the end; mobile is the new trend that has impacted not only the businesses but it has, also, changed the consumer behavior. If you think MCommerce is the next phase of ECommerce or Mobile is an extension of web; you might want to think again.
Mobile v/s Web: The Power-Game
The main difference between Mobile and the Web is the accessibility, ease of use and potential of personalization. The objectives are absolutely different. The recent innovations, increased screen size and more processing power haven’t helped the cause of Web/ECommerce. Mobile has become an integral part of customer’s daily life. From setting up an alarm to checking emails, buying tickets, checking reviews for the travel destination and cooking recipes; everything can be done using the mobile.
It is not ONLY MCommerce
It is not just selling; mobile also provides a great opportunity to keep the customer engaged with the brands even during the period when the customer is not planning to buy anything. It is critical to stay within the consideration set so that, when the purchase happens, the customer is more likely to consider the brand. It is a unique opportunity which no other channel can provide (until the wearable become mainstream).
Reduced Marketing Cost and Higher ROI
Mobile provides an opportunity for the brands to target the right customer. It has the maximum relevant penetration than any other channel and; it is not expensive, too.
Mobile Marketing is one way of reaching out to the customers but the most effective way is to build a mobile application and use it as a communication medium between the customer and the brand.
But what should the mobile application(s) do, to build the brand and how can they ensure that maximum number of users download their applications? The brands should build mobile applications which solve problems and provide relevant information to the customer. It is important for the brands to create the application which is innovative, useful for the customer and keeps them engaged. A good example is a travel company application such as a travel planner, which helps the customer in planning the travel in an organized manner, including suggestions on clothes, accessories etc. based on the location and weather.
How can you encourage a potential shopper in a mall to come to your store? Location based services can ensure that the customer is always aware about the brand and nearest store. This can be achieved through mobile application.
If you are one of the many retailers present in a huge mall and want to be noticed, mobile is the best option. Location Based communication (GPS, Beacons etc.) has enabled the brands to reach out to the potential customers without spending on expensive print media.
Mobile provides an opportunity for the brands to provide better customer experience. Brands can also, ensure personalized experience for their customers which results in increased conversions.
Tracking consumers’ purchase journey and intervening, when a customer is most likely to move out of the store, without buying, might increase the conversions.
Is your business insight driven? Are you sure that you have accurate and real-time insights? If your answer is ‘no’ then you should have mobile as a part of your business strategy. Mobile applications (through analytics tools) provide insights about customer preferences and their buying behavior which can help brands in building their communication strategy.
Consumers are willing to share their experiences when the brands provide them with the medium to do so. Let it be In-store, web, mobile or social; brands need to build the touch points for the customers to interact with the brands. It can be as simple as an iPad inside the stores to collect instant customer feedback.
The Way Ahead
Today, customers are way ahead than many retailers in the digital space. They use mobile for almost every activity. . So, it is critical for the retailers to understand the potential of mobile applications. Players, like Amazon and FlipKart, have already shown the potential of digital disruption. It won’t even take few years for a new player to acquire customers of established big brands, if they don’t restructure their business models, keeping digital at the center of their business strategy. Retailers should start with their stores; bringing the focus back from convenience to shopping experience. They can do it by engaging with the customers using digital medium. They can start with simple feedback, Catalog and mobile loyalty. Apart from the customers, they should also enable their store staff with digital solutions to enhance their efficiency. It can be simple task management, product training or a clientele solution. These solutions will give the retailers the kind of momentum that they need in todays’ fast moving digital world.
Sr. Consultant – Mobility, RapidValue Solutions