For the past few years it seems as if every marketing buzzword has made reference to mobile. ‘Mobile-advertising’ and ‘mobile-engagement’ seem to trip off the tongue of all marketing aficionados, yet the reality is that the much-heralded mobile is still dramatically under-used by marketing departments.
On the whole, consumers have come to expect a seamless customer journey regardless of how they decide to engage with a retailer. With this in mind, marketing managers should be treating every platform used as part of a campaign as one-and-the-same. However, we still see many retailers approaching online, offline and mobile as separate channels.
The truth is, mobile is key to first class and consistent customer engagement.
A considered and thought-out approach to mobile is needed to truly integrate it into the overall experience. That way, it will become an integral part of the entire marketing function rather than just a buzzword.
When we refer to mobile, we are talking about smartphones, tablets and wearable technology. All of these devices are the perfect way for retailers to blur the lines between online and offline, driving the customer to make considered and repeat purchases.
Bridging the gap
We know that shoppers will use mobile to seek out further product information. In fact, according to research from Future Foundation, 75% of consumers said they either do or would use their own device or an in-store tablet to get more detailed information about an item.
We probably should not be surprised that number is so high. As online customers, we have all become accustomed to reading reviews, inspecting size guides, conducting product comparisons and having endless colour and style options available to us. So, if customers can do the same in your physical store, as well as actually see, touch and try a product, surely it is a win-win situation for both customer and retailer?
With this in mind, retailers should be using mobile to do more than simply send out the odd text message campaign. It should be used to connect with people in the right place and at the right time, to offer information at their fingertips as they have become accustomed to, and to ultimately end the online / offline disjoint.
As more retailers begin to embrace the potential of mobile, what trends can we expect to see over the coming years?
A greater use of QR codes in store should be expected, with customers scanning them to access product details and stock information. This kind of carefully integrated mobile data will help create a well-informed journey and can offer shoppers subtle ‘buy now’ links, appearing as the next logical step of that overall journey.
The increasing use of voice technology, contactless payments and augmented reality should also be considered. There are opportunities here to delight and surprise customers by using apps and software to add a fun and unexpected new dimension to the shopping experience.
Of course, all of this can be highly beneficial to the retailer too. Again, QR codes could be used, but this time to grant access to a loyalty app that lets a shopper know they have a reward voucher to use or allows them to check their points balance before paying. Couple all of this with the option to leave a quick star rating as they complete their purchase and retailers are left with an engaged customer who is prepared to act as a brand advocate.
A blurring of worlds
Ultimately, successful retailers will be the ones who recognise the fact that consumers relish the ability to quickly move between online and offline worlds. Think about the amount of times you have been having drinks with friends and a question or topic has prompted a quick Google search on your mobile. Alternatively, consider those occasions where a print advert or poster has driven you online. It is something we have become both comfortable with and accustomed to.
Retailers now need to be offering their customers the same luxury via traditional and mobile marketing.