Convergent Commerce Series, Part II
Mobile commerce has quickly advanced past a cut-and-paste of a retailer’s ecommerce site—it is a viable, independent channel that needs its own strategy, unique capabilities, and personality if it is going to be a valuable part in a retailer’s cross-channel commerce strategy. In the first Convergent Commerce Series Article, Cross-Channel Plan for Mobile Engagement, the growing reasons to integrate a cross-channel strategy incorporating online, mobile, brick-and-mortar and social were highlighted with a specific focus on mobile. The most effective mobile platform consists of a mobile optimized website, downloadable rich app, and in-store mobile engagement. Incorporating mobile into the overall marketing strategy is an effective means to increase consumer awareness of a retailer’s various channels. In doing so, retailers can attract more visitors, generate more sales, leverage their marketing and merchandising spend, gain insight into customer purchase decisions, and heighten customer relations.
It is important to recognize that while mobile is its own channel wherein consumers interact in a very different way than they do other mediums, it simultaneously links all commerce outlets between the customer and the retail brand. While on the go, consumers use their phones to browse products, perform research through ratings and reviews, video demonstrations and detailed product descriptions, share an item to Facebook and Twitter or email it to friends and family, and ultimately, purchase in as little as sixty seconds. In store, the mobile device and rich apps act as a store loyalty card and personal sales associate providing product details, demonstrations, consumer opinions, and special product and store offers.
There are many important features and functionalities that need to be enabled on a mobile optimized website and rich app in order to provide a convergent commerce platform that enhances the customer shopping experience both in and out of the store. These include:
- Rich Product Images and Detailed Product Descriptions: A key feature of an optimized mobile web site and rich app is the ability to view rich and large product images from anywhere at anytime. Consumers can visually see what they are about to purchase in a mobile optimized format, and multiple images per product allow for an interactive user experience from all angles. The product information should be detailed and include variants such as color and size and the price range, if necessary, can include was price, now price, and MSRP.
- Product Search: The goal of a product search is to get the consumer to where they are going in as few steps as possible, and so the search function needs to be designed to move the consumer from the homepage to checkout in as little as six clicks. The product search results, whether accessed by searching for product name, category, brand, or item number, should be easy to navigate and have breadcrumbs in place so the customer can easily see the path to return to a previous page or result. Once the customer finds what they are looking for, they should be able to buy it directly from their mobile device or search for Find a Store so they can buy it locally.
- Find a Store: Enabled through a geo/zip store locator implementation, Find a Store converges the mobile and in-store channels by enabling consumers to quickly and conveniently access a retailer’s products and information across channels. The store locator makes finding a retail store or merchant vendor quick, simple and convenient. For the retailer, it eliminates customer abandonment based on direction hassles, calling frustrations and time-intensive, unnecessary steps. A one-touch store locator enables a seamless transition from mobile to in-store shopping, further converging retail platforms. In addition, it is through the Find a Store implementation that retailers can enable weekly circular promotions and deals directly to consumers’ smartphones, which broadens their distribution and entices customers to visit the store. The weekly ads, only redeemable in-store, show users local product-specific discounts at stores near them.
- Mobile In-Store Marketing: When a customer walks into a retail store with the retailer’s branded rich app installed on their smartphone, they can open the app and click to “check-in” to the store. If the retailer has set up a campaign to be triggered by a check-in at that particular store, a rich message will appear that may be a store announcement, a specific offer, or simply a welcome message. While in the store, retailers can push notifications to consumers based on in-store events or announcements. Upon leaving, retailers can send customers a notification within the branded app that could include an invitation to an exit survey, a loyalty promotion, or even a simple “thank you” for visiting the store.
- In-Store Product Research: Barcode scanning via a smartphone’s camera is an integral part of the cross-channel retail strategy and is one of the driving forces between the mobile and in-store channels. The retailer’s rich app implementation of barcode scanning empowers customers to access additional information about specific products, such as complete product descriptions, additional product images, ratings and reviews, add to wish list and registry, and even see a product video demonstration or receive an instant coupon for a special product offer. Additionally, the customer can view up-to-date availability and can order directly and immediately from their mobile device if the store is out of the size or color the consumer wishes to purchase.
- QR Code Scan: A customer’s ability to scan QR codes within the retailer’s branded app and have them link to any number of offers or responses unlocks countless possibilities for making a retail store mobile-aware. Scanning QR codes cannot only generate insights into product preferences, but can also create an opportunity to serve relevant promotions. QR codes can be used in catalogs, in-store signage and even advertisements, all to drive product and promotion awareness within the retailer’s branded rich app.
To determine which mobile platforms— web site, app or both—will bring the most ROI for a retailer’s investment, brands should look at their customer base and commerce outlets. It is through the mobile web that consumers will initially interact with a retailer from a mobile device. Mobile web allows customers to benefit from a fast, easy-to-use interface for browsing, searching and buying while on the go. The retailer can then engage and transform the customer from occasional visitor to loyal customer by having them download the app for faster, more frequent and higher value experiences, whether they’re in the store or on the move.In doing so, the retailer can drive incremental sales, increase customer loyalty and learn more about consumers’ buying behavior to serve them better in the future.
The next Convergent Commerce Series Article, Social and Mobile Integration as a Valuable Part of A Cross-Channel Commerce Paradigm, will describehow to successfully develop a social and mobile strategy that strategically promotes all channels, enhancing customer loyalty and ROI through the app.
Dan Lowden is Digby’s Vice President of Marketing, responsible for all aspects of the company’s brand strategy and marketing. He brings 15 years of experience in mobile services and mobile devices through his roles at top technology companies, including AT&T Wi-Fi Services, where he was Vice President of Marketing; Wayport (acquired by AT&T) where he was Vice President of Marketing and Business Development; and IBM, where he was North American ThinkPad Brand Manager and World-Wide ThinkPad Segment Manager. Lowden holds an MBA in International Business from Rutgers University and a B.S. in Finance from Rider University.