Are mobile devices the boon or bane of retail? The age of the millenials has ushered in many dramatic changes to the shopping scene. Today, mobile device-wielding shoppers go into a store not only to buy, but to see deals, compare prices with competitors, and even involve their social media friends in their shopping decisions. In this fast-paced age, shoppers want easy-to-access information and quick answers to their questions.
Online shopping is another factor that has influenced the shopping landscape. Instead of being threatened by it, brick-and-mortar stores must take online shopping features that would make customers’ in-store experience better by leaps and bounds. Forward-thinking retail businesses have started adopting some of these online features; it is imminent that these two industries will merge, giving customers a total shopping experience that is both quick and convenient.
What does the future hold? Before long, most retail stores will be using mobile shopping to enhance their customers experience with these features:
1. Beacon technology to make shopping a personal experience.
As customers enter a store, they get a welcome message on their phone, plus personalized content from discounts, special offers and even recommendation on their mobile gadgets.
2. Location-based services to entice customers to enter the store.
When customers pass outside the store, they can get notifications about new products or limited offers on their phone or tablet, encouraging them to enter personally see what these recommendations are.
3. Mobile payments.
With the introduction of Google Wallet and Apple Passbook, it won’t be log till other service providers follow suit. This technology will allow customers to check themselves out - no more lines, no more waiting, no more dealing with sales reps.
4. Virtual everything.
Virtual fitting rooms are already in place in some stores. Even without waiting in line for a fitting room, customers can see how certain pieces of clothing would look on them. This technology even makes suggestions about styles or colors that would be perfect for the customer.
5. Out of store buying experience.
In answer to online shopping, retail stores would offer free delivery services or preorder and pick up options. Through mobile technology, customers would also be able to do retail store shopping even if they are not physically present in the store.
6. Greater consumer power.
As businesses scramble to give the best offerings, customers will have the power to choose what gives the best value for their time and money. They will be checking reviews, comparing prices and looking up deals on their mobile devices, so retail businesses must optimize all their content for mobile use.
Gone are the days when consumers would simply walk into a store, see an item they like, get it checked out and exit the store. Retail businesses cannot just simply function as they used to. To gain a competitive edge, retail stores must have a great mobile presence and employ mobile technology to improve customers’ shopping experience.