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eCommerce and retail shops have witnessed a marked increase in mobile adoption in the past two years. As per a 2016 Gartner study, 50% of US digital commerce revenue will be driven by mobile engagement behavior by 2017. Also, 41% use their smartphones to research and compare prices before buying a product. To stay ahead in the retail game, a mobile strategy has to be a dominant part of the marketing game.
As per Vend’s retail trends and forecasts for the year 2017, which continue to hold for the coming year, personalization, in-store experience and payment technology will have a major impact on the retail industry. Whether the business decides to go online with its products by launching a full-fledged mobile application or augments its service offering by launching a companion mobile app to enhance in-store shopping experience, smart applications become imperative for maintaining customer engagement.
Both customers and companies benefit from ecommerce as it gives global exposure to the business and serves a multitude of options for the customers. The cost of creation, processing, distribution, storage and retrieval of information is not very high with easy access to big data and cloud computing. Hence, a company can take complete advantage of the opportunities available online.
From the customer’s perspective, they have options for faster delivery, effective comparison, complete information and excellent security. Also, they can browse and shop whenever they find a moment of leisure without intruding on their schedule. A Google study suggests that 82% smartphone users refer to their mobile phones inside a store when making a purchase decision and 25% in-store shoppers have had at least one online interaction with the retailer in the last 3 months.
There are innovative ways in which the eCommerce growth can be furthered and brick-and-mortar stores can engage their customers. Retailers are aware of the overlap between online and physical channels and are increasingly offering in-store plus online services to enhance the customer’s shopping experience. Some of the prominent and successful services are a curbside pick-up, online reservations, same-day delivery, targeted offers, welcomes, loyalty rewards, mobile payments and much more.
These services are enabled by technologies such as GPS tracking, maps, beacons, and in-app messages and push notifications, payment gateways and security layers. Using the device features such as beacons, NFC, camera, and platform-based applications such as maps, virtual payment banks etc., the boundaries of convenient services that can be offered to customers are expanded. Customer’s shopping can be delivered to them at their doorstep and virtual payments element the need for any cash transactions.
Beacon technology has revolutionized the way a brick-and-mortar store interacts with its customers. These are low energy Bluetooth devices that can detect a device in a certain radius and send automated messages that are personalized. So, for instance, if the customer is in the vicinity of the store, push notifications will be sent to him/her, informing them about the arrival of a new range or some product that had been out of stock the last time they visited.
In supermarkets it can act as a guide to a customer, informing them of products available in each aisle and the offers that are currently available on products they frequently purchase.
In-store personalization has matured to the point where a greeting is sent on the customer’s mobile as they enter the store and details of the shop assistant such as name and position will be displayed as they are guided. An interesting way is to create an omni-channel shopping experience where the user can use their smartphone device around the store to check-in products and have them delivered to their house. Smart initiatives around the store will increase footfalls to brick-and-mortar stores as it will add a fun element and personal touch for customers who are increasingly opting for the convenience of shopping online.
Internet of Things (IoT) presents multiple opportunities for increasing revenue, lowering operating cost and delivering relevant customer experience. Though IoT technologies haven’t reached their full potential, wearables and beacons are being adopted in a big way since past two years.
Where it is easier to shop from home, A retailer will have to find a way to reach such customers and engage them. Hand delivering and setting up electronics is an established norm that can be extended by grocers and clothing and accessories stores. These services can be streamlined and perfected with accurate GPS integration and in-app delivery options. The new-age traveling salesman will now be aided by a mobile application that will guide him/her towards customers, on-demand and enable them to market their wares effectively.
Smartwatches are being used to scan QR codes for availing coupons and rewards. QR code scanning is also being done to scan product barcode and get complete info including best prices on the Internet. QR codes are facilitating “hands-free” shopping experience via wearable devices.
Free and same day shipping is no longer an option but a requirement. Though customers are not making the trip to the store, they want the instant gratification of taking their purchase home immediately. Though it is not always practical for retailers, considering aspects such as logistical feasibility, it has become imperative to satisfy customer’s demand for instant delivery. An intricate tracking device and delivery mechanism with the option for a user to give instant feedback on delivery will improve service quality.
Mobile payments have already been adopted in a big way and this will continue to grow. There are approximately 447.9 million mobile payment users globally and mobile payments in general are expected to generate $60 billion as per Business Insider and by 2020 it will account for $503 billion in sales. Mobile payment options that are currently available include POS systems, custom apps, mobile wallets and third party options such as Apple Pay or Android Pay among prominent tap-and-pay options. Big retailers such as Wal-Mart have their own payment gateway called Wal-Mart Pay and many such players are offering loyalty points to customers for using them. With a straightforward guide to checkout where User “select size”, “add to bag” and “proceed to checkout”, in-app payment is growing with the “pay now” option.
Retailers who adapt to the changing trends and adopt the mobile solutions in an innovative manner to offer easy-to-adapt services to customers will continue to grow. Creating a personal in-store experience for customers will create novel experience now, when IoT is still in its latent stages. You can be the early bird that captures the market with these special services.
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