Are You Making Mobile Your Best Sales Associate?

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by Kristin Harripaul

Mobile. It’s changing the way customers do things and even the way they shop—with 75% of customers now using their mobile devices while in store.

Recognizing this trend, smart retailers and brands have initiated quick moves to support customer use of mobile. But, the reality is, they still haven’t quite maximized the opportunity. One of the biggest opportunities of mobile is to finally close the gap between online and offline retail. How? By essentially making mobile your best sales associate—using it to guide rather than simply inform your customers along their path to purchase and supplement the needs and wants.

However, 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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