4 ways retailers can use mobile phones to personalize the shopping experience

June 10, 2016 11:41 AM

Integrating digital technology into a traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience is more than just an added bonus for your customers — it’s now an absolute necessity. It not only increases engagement, but it also creates a more desirable retail experience for your customers. And if current industry trends continue, your business soon won’t be able to survive without it.

Millennial shoppers are increasingly patronizing stores that use digital devices creatively to provide a unique in-store experience. And consistent good experiences are crucial to the prosperity of your business — research shows that only 27 percent of shoppers are willing to give a brand another shot following a bad experience.

Personalization is at the heart of any good shopping experience, whether it’s online or in-store. The key for retail companies going forward will be to harness the power of mobile technology and deliver the convenience of online shopping in stores by engaging customers on a personal level.

Here are four ways to tap into the mine of digital opportunities and optimize your brand’s shopping experience: 

1. Create a seamless shopping experience.

Many customers browse products online before coming into a physical store to view and feel items. Retailers can take advantage of this by allowing consumers to add items to a digital shopping cart that can be collected for them before they get to the store. Tie in-store inventory to the interface so they can immediately be alerted to items that are out of stock — and relieved of an unnecessary trip. You can even enable customers to communicate via mobile device with a personal shopper, who can then compile their wish list in the store.

2. Augment reality.

Explore the possibilities of augmented reality, in which digital layers are added on top of the real world. Furniture companies, such as IKEA, are using it to help their customers visualize how a piece of furniture will fit in their homes. Many cosmetics companies are also using this tool in innovative ways, allowing customers to digitally experiment with different types of makeup before purchase. 

3. Make checkout hassle-free.

It’s safe to say that there are inherent flaws in the traditional checkout model. Backlogs inevitably form during busy periods, and associates who would otherwise be helping customers on the floor are called to assist with checkout. With mobile credit card processors, associates can ring up a customer’s purchase whenever and wherever she’s ready.

Apple has made particularly notable use of this strategy in its retail stores. Upon deciding to make a purchase, customers are immediately engaged by an associate, who sends the order to the back of the store, where merchandise is kept. The associate then remains with the customer while the order is delivered, and checkout is completed on the spot.

4. Embrace customers’ self-help inclinations.

With approximately two-thirds of consumers indicating that self-help options would drive them to make in-store purchases, retailers should be tripping over themselves to integrate self-help opportunities whenever possible. It can be as simple as providing a QR code scanner that provides detailed product information or comparable options.

As a new generation of shoppers raised on ubiquitous mobile broadband gains buying power, it has become more important than ever for companies to innovate and personalize the shopping journey. It’s up to retail companies to take advantage of existing and emerging technologies to allow digital and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences to intersect — and deliver the in-store features savvy consumers demand.

Mitchell is a public relations firm that is part of Dentsu Aegis Network, which is based in London and operates in 145 countries.




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