Smartphones – Transforming the Retail Experience


Smartphones – Transforming the Retail Experience

Every organization selling consumer goods and services needs to evaluate the total retail experience and how it is impacted by new technologies. Retail experience is essentially the experience customers have when they visit a retail store.  Retailers need to understand why customers visit specific stores, to what extent is their decision affected by factors such as store location and the products and brands being sold.

Retailers need to skillfully raise awareness of their brand. They need to focus on visual merchandising which entails developing floor plans and three-dimensional displays in order to maximize sales.

Shifts in consumer behavior

Never before have there been such dramatic shifts in consumer shopping behavior, preferences, and expectations as at the present time. It is imperative for retailers and consumer-goods companies to optimize their channels part of a single, integrated strategy to drive compelling customer experiences while controlling and minimizing costs. Realizing this requires strategic investments across multiple areas of the business, and it requires IT solutions that are agile, dynamic, and integrated.

As the landscape of consumer technology is shifting rapidly, businesses must ask critical questions on how to connect directly with the digital consumer to offer tailored, relevant and engaging experiences that help drive conversion.

Smartphones – the new retail experience

Smartphones are taking over the retail experience, allowing customers to buy goods and services in stores. In addition, cellular technology allows customers to compare products by simply scanning a bar code with their devices.

Apple is leading the way in the utilization of smartphones and tablets to drive the retail experience. At all of Apple’s 412 stores located in 14 countries, customers can make payments through their iPhones and iPads using the company’s Easy Pay app.

Another technology that allows consumers to make purchases on the fly or receive background information on products and services is Quick Response (QR) codes. These are now being placed on retail packages, kiosks, billboards, at bus stops, train stations and many other locations.

AT&T is also getting in on the act. The telecommunications giant’s vision to is to see consumers reduce the items that they typically carry with them from three – wallet, keys and smart phones – to one – just a smartphone. AT&T is eliminating sales counters and cash registers from its 2,300 U.S. stores. It already has replaced its traditional registers with tablets and smartphones at its location on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile with plans to do the same at several additional locations in 2014.

How in-store shoppers use their smartphones

According to a research by Google’s Shopper Marketing Council, 84% of smartphone users use their smartphones while shopping in stores. This research also revealed that shoppers who use smartphone more, shop more. The in-store shoppers primarily use smartphones for:

  • Finding out store opening and closing hours
  • Finding locations of other stores
  • Finding promotions and offers
  • Price comparison
  • Product reviews

Implications for businesses

Shoppers not only use smartphones for buying high-end appliances or electronics but this behavior can be seen in every industry including apparels, household items, personal care, and pet care. For businesses, this change in consumer behavior not only affects their marketing strategy but influences the entire business. It changes the way products are stocked in a store as well as the way employees are trained.

The biggest implications of smartphone use in-stores include:

  • Mobile marketing is not an option anymore, it’s imperative

Smartphones and other mobile devices are one of the biggest influencing factors in purchasing decisions of retail customers’ today. Mobile marketing offers huge opportunities for marketers to directly connect with customers who are looking for their products.

  • Smartphones can be used to guide customers to the store

  1. Businesses should have websites that support mobile transactions.
  2. Businesses should enable the location of stores via Google Maps.
  • Smartphones can be used to keep customers in retail stores

Every business should own a digital shelf to make it easier for customers to find product details, pricing and promotions. Also, the location of the stores, time of the day and devices used in stores, allow businesses and marketers to reach customers with relevant marketing messages.

By understanding and embracing this new retail consumer behavior, brands can find new opportunities to connect with their existing and potential customers.

 Blogger: Unum Shafiq

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