Turn Mobile into Your Best Sales Associate

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Feb 19 2015, Posted by Lisa Cramer

Headline after headline, stat after stat, it is now very apparent that mobile is impacting the store experience in a big way—with the majority (75 percent) of consumers using their mobile devices while in store. Early recognition of this trend by smart retailers and brands has initiated quick moves to build mobile apps to purchase products. However, it has now become apparent that consumers are actually using their mobile devices in store mainly for “top-of-the-funnel” activities, or behaviors characteristic of the early stages of the buy cycle. And, now brands and retailers have an incredible opportunity right at their feet.
The reality is, consumers are starting to favor the use of smartphones over the help of the traditional retail sales associate (RSA). Looking at a recent Motorola study, already 43 percent of Gen Y shoppers (ages 18 to 34) and 41 percent of Gen X shoppers (ages 35 to 49) reported feeling more in tune with product information via mobile than RSAs. And, 48 percent of customers believed they had a better experience when RSAs were armed with the latest technologies. So what does that mean? Retailers and brands need to make sure they are designing mobile apps that not only utilize mobile devices, but also provide desired information.
According to a study by Retail Systems Research, as it relates to what is valued vs. what is currently being used, it is clear that retailers have tackled the easiest components of the consumer’s mobile experience, while not necessarily focusing on those that consumers need and want most. The graph below highlights some significant gaps between what is being provided and what customers value in their mobile experience.
Blog_Turn Mobile into Your Best Sales Associate_Stats

Source: RSR Research, January 2015

So here’s the big question—what is the “desired” information your customers are looking for? To answer that question, you need to look at where your customers are in the buying cycle when they enter the store, so that you can offer them exactly what they are looking for. Here are the general buying stages a customer goes through on their path to purchase:

  • Awareness—customer identifies their need
  • Consideration—customer evaluates different products
  • Preferences—customer has a logical and emotional feeling towards a particular product leading to a purchase
  • Purchase—the action of buying a product

Based on the product category, customer needs and expectations can vary greatly, but it’s up to the brand and/or retailer to design apps that are not only appropriate for the platform, i.e. consumer’s smartphone vs. the brand/retailer’s website, but to design based on where the particular consumer is in their buying journey.
According to a study by Deloitte, while in-store, consumers are looking for mobile apps to focus primarily on product information, ratings or product comparisons and discounts/coupons. And, adding elements such as social media and reviews to help them evaluate your products against others and share their experience has shown to positively impact the experience. But again, you must make sure that the elements you choose are specific to your customers needs based on your particular products and services. For example, for a paint product, a tutorial, a color-matching feature, inspirational photos and suggested tools might make sense. But, if the product was now a dinnerware set, would these mobile elements still all make sense?
A generic digital platform—online website and app with limited functionality—fails to leverage this golden opportunity to guide consumers on their path to purchase and truly influence the sale. Not to mention, consumers using digital in stores are converting at a 40 percent higher rate than consumers not using digital (Deloitte). And, if they are using the brand/retailer’s specific app, the conversation rate is higher. Are you ready to turn mobile into your best sales associate?

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