Mobile retail will become a higher dollar retail channel than desktop sales. Perhaps not in direct sales, but mobile devices end up boosting sales through all channels because of the value they bring to customers' retail experience.
According to comScore's Q4 2016 retail sales numbers, mobile retail spending jumped up a whopping 45% YOY. Excellent news. Yet mobile spending as a share of e-commerce remains low, sitting at a mere 21% of total digital retail spend. And overall, digital spending is still dwarfed by in-store spending.
Stay with me here. Are people walking into stores with their phones or their desktops?
People like shopping in stores. They also like the access to information and personalization of digital shopping. Mobile retail is uniquely positioned to bridge the best of the on- and off-line shopping experience. Which also makes retail mobility positioned to drive the most valuable of 21st digital currencies – brand intimacy.
Brand intimacy is sometimes defined as the degree of emotional connection a consumer has with a brand. Apple has high brand intimacy. However, it's more than an emotional connection. Brand intimacy is also the degree to which a consumer emotionally identifies with a brand. They're emotionally invested in that brand's success and being part of it. And that's the trigger distinguishing loyal customers from brand advocates.
This isn't to denigrate loyal customers. Loyal customers who shop again and again and again with a brand are crucial. They may not actively promote a brand, but their behavior can still spread brand goodwill within their small sphere of influence. Mobile app loyalty programs are great examples of mobile retail driving in-store sales.
Now it's time to move mobile retail beyond building brand loyalty to developing genuine brand intimacy. The retail industry already has a higher average Brand Intimacy quotient than most other industries. Retail brands need to start using all of mobile's unique advantages when executing brand intimacy strategies.
Intimacy starts with being seen. Personalization lets consumers know a brand sees them, understands them, and values them. All are needed components to develop intimacy. Technologies like beacons and predictive data analytics can push out recommendations, offers, and relevant information (for example, "how – to's" or "here's how others wore it" content) direct to consumers at just the right time. These communications can occur through app notifications, text messages, social media, or mobile email. (B2C retail industry has some of the highest mobile email open rates of any industry. Don't sniff at email.)
Empower associates to have direct communication with consumers. Having a personal communication with sales associates or customer service reps personalizes the brand for the consumer. This could mean having tagging or re-posting consumer content through official brand social media profiles. Respond directly to consumer questions or concerns via text or social media, based on the channel chosen by the consumer. Equip associates with mobile POS devices connected to full consumer and inventory data so they can provide comprehensive service on the spot.
Encourage and make it easy for buyers to share their brand experiences. The most popular social media channels from Snapchat to Instagram to Facebook Live Stream and Messenger, are mobile channels. Retailers can use tested in-store and digital methods to get consumers to share their retail experience. Catch them in the moments when they're most involved in the shopping experience or more excited about their purchase. Use augmented reality technology in a mobile app so shoppers can "try on" makeup or clothes and share the augmented images from their phones. Use push notifications, text, or email to get positive ratings and reviews posted on your site, review sites, and social media.
Be reliable. Creating brand intimacy means being there when the consumer seeks you out. A mobile app must have a design, function, and infrastructure behind it that ensures an awesome mobile retail experience. A recent study of how consumers rate retail mobile apps found that the greatest improvements or declines in brand sentiment were based on the technical proficiency of the app. So Peapod, which had the worst decline in brand sentiment, received criticisms for poor app performance, high ad volume, and poor payment options. In contrast, French retailer Spartoo enjoyed the highest upswing in brand sentiment, which the report attributes to the company adding a shoe recommendation widget into its app.
Smartphones - Don't Leave Home Without Yours
Mobile devices have unlimited potential to spark and solidify brand intimacy with consumers. And nothing, NO SINGLE THING claims a more intimate experience with us than the device we carry with us everywhere — our smartphones. They never leave our hands. It's the first thing most of us check when we wake up. And the one item we are more uncomfortable handing to anyone, even for a few moments! That's intimacy!
So whether the goal is to increase mobile sales or leverage a mobile retail experience to drive in-store sales, mobile interactions can keep a brand front and center with consumers, nurturing those relationships. Get started today – give DecisionPoint a call!