Using Mobile In Store To Pull The Consumer Through The Buy Cycle
This article was originally written for Retail TouchPoints where it was published on April 6, 2015.
As many as 75% of consumers are using their mobile devices while in store, according to a recent study by InReality. A consumer’s mobile device offers retailers and brands a huge opportunity to guide the consumer journey and influence the sale while they are in the store.
Although there are many different customer journeys, all have essentially three phases — pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase. Focusing on these three phases from a mobile perspective is key to pulling the consumer through the buy cycle and, ultimately, winning the sale in store.
So, how can you take advantage of mobile along these three phases for the most impact?
At this stage, consumers are researching products, brands and retail stores. Specifically, they are reading product literature, blogs and product reviews and asking family or friends for recommendations to help them narrow their choices. And, they are not just collecting this information online then going in store to purchase. Based on the InReality study, 53% of consumers actually prefer to do their research in store. That said, to capture consumers, both online and in-store experiences need to offer consumers access to the information they want. Here are the key places to get started:
- Optimized mobile web site: It’s no longer enough to just be happy with having a mobile site, now it needs to be optimized with worthwhile content. The more useful the content, the more time consumers will spend there versus a generic Google search or, even worse, a competitor’s site. This content should also be designed to convert, whether that means visiting the store to investigate the product or making the purchase directly on mobile.
- Free in-store Wi-Fi: Given that 75% of consumers are using their mobile device once they enter the store, it is no longer a question of whether or not to offer WIFI. The key is to make it easily accessible throughout the store. And, why not have the browser automatically open up with an offer for the consumer?
- Customized social pages for in-store research: Twitter and Facebook are two of the most used applications on our mobile devices. The question is how can brands or retailers take advantage of that? Almost half (46%) of shoppers report that finding meaningful content on branded social media sites can be a struggle. By providing valuable content on social during the pre-purchase stage, retailers and brands can help capture mobile users while in store, as consumers are using these sites for product information, reviews and more.
At this stage, the consumer has narrowed their decision to a small group of options, and they’ve decided to move forward with a purchase. This phase is also called the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), as it is often where consumers switch brands. That said, this is the battleground, and the goal here is to further educate and support the purchase. To win at this stage, start by looking at these two things:
- Blended mobile and in-store experiences: It’s important to find ways of integrating mobile usage with other in-store experiences to drive engagement and offer consumers the information they need, when they need it. Consumers are using their mobile in store to find price comparisons (61%), product information (46%) and access social media (43%). If you know this is happening, it is best that you take advantage of that during the consumer’s buying journey. For example, while a consumer is looking at a product display in store, wouldn’t it be interesting to suggest they check out one of your social media sites for additional product information and/or reviews?
- M-Commerce app: Currently 25% of consumers already are using their mobile devices to make purchases while in store and this number will undoubtedly grow in the coming years. It is therefore critical for brands to maximize this opportunity and lead the charge here by making this purchasing option significantly more effective and ensuring that it is easy to use and find. Capturing a consumer at the point of purchase is of course the ultimate goal, regardless of how the purchase happens (offline/online/mobile).
A purchase does not signal the end of an opportunity with the consumer. This is where the post-purchase phase comes in as a tremendous opportunity to enhance the brand experience with the consumer as products and services are delivered, installed and used, and any real or perceived defects are effectively dealt with. Proactively dealing with “buyer’s remorse”, or leveraging “buyer’s joy” is a critical part of how the brand deals with the consumer along their journey to ensure loyalty later. To maximize this stage, consider two things:
- Loyalty apps: The use of loyalty apps is starting to gain traction as both brands and retailers try to stay top of mind with consumers. The struggle seems to be whether these applications are effective and really endearing the consumer to be “loyal” to a brand. In fact, these programs may not be having the desired effect: Consumers who used their mobile device for loyalty programs were 28% more likely to do price comparisons with other retailers than consumers with mobile devices that did not use loyalty programs. This represents an upside for brands or retailers that can figure out how to make loyalty apps on mobile devices stickier. Doing this requires making it easy for the consumer to sign up for the program and thinking through additional benefits to integrate beyond just points and discounts.
- Email nurturing: Once a consumer purchases and/or opts-in to a brand or retailer’s email program, staying in touch with relevant content has a direct effect on sales. More than eight out of 10 consumers who signed up for emails from brands over the past six months made a purchase based on what they received, according to Exact Target. Email nurturing will keep your brand top of mind with the consumer. To maximize this opportunity, tailor valuable offers, special events and other items to engage specific demographics.
Mobile use in store has become pervasive. Brands and retailers have a great opportunity to take advantage of these devices by helping to guide the consumer through their buying journey. Ignoring mobile will only drive consumers to find mobile content elsewhere…Better to keep consumers on your own apps and web site!