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The Rise Of Brick And Mobile
By: Ted Curtin
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The growing number of shoppers using mobile devices to help navigate the retail shopping experience is not a just a trend, it’s a market evolution. Even though mobile adoption hasn’t fully reached a critical mass in the U.S., the retail brands that are getting ahead of this phenomenon and leveraging it to their advantage are the ones that will not just survive, but thrive in our increasingly mobile, connected, consumer-driven world.

Last holiday shopping season saw an unprecedented amount of mobile users utilizing a combination of smartphones and tablets, while in a retail store, to check pricing, get product reviews, view product demos and in some cases place orders from a competitor. According to Chadwick Research 70% of iPhone owners reported using web access or a specific mobile app for assistance while shopping.

Some retail organizations are launching attacks against the big online stores, crying foul and complaining of competitive advantages. While their concerns are understandable, the bigger threat that retailers face is missing the opportunity standing right in their aisles. “Click and Mortar” is the term we used to differentiate those once savvy retailers that provided options beyond the “Brick and Mortar” retail options of the past. With a PC and a mouse, we were able to click our way through a virtual store without leaving home. As mouse clicks give way to mobile ‘taps’ and our screens become more of an extension of our everyday existence, we see a new breed of retailer emerging — call it “Brick and Mobile”.

The Brick and Mobile retailer recognizes the in-store consumer demand for helpful information, quality service, and competitive pricing. But this retailer also realizes the value of an attentive and eager audience and knows that by delivering on those needs and helping guide the shopper through a combination of in-person assistance and digitally available information, they not only increase sales, but build brand loyalty.

The fact is, consumer needs go deeper than price. Buying from Amazon.com or any other online website can be a great experience, but it’s not always cheaper. According to ShopSavvy.com Amazon features the lowest price only 7% of the time. What’s more, while competitive pricing is important to consumers, price is certainly not the only driving purchase motivator. Product reviews and information, knowledgeable staff, and immediate availability (instead of waiting 5–6 days for shipping) are all powerful assets that smart retailers can leverage. According to Cognizant’s recent Shopper Experience Study, associate assisted sales foster deeper engagement and loyalty.

Retailers need to recognize the barriers to in-store sales and utilize an array of mobile web technologies from QR codes to custom mobile apps to add value, deliver helpful branded content and drive the sales process. By providing and promoting more relevant mobile friendly apps and resources in-store, retailers can complement the added information with special in-store mobile incentives.

For example, make it easy for mobile shoppers to buy with options from secure mobile payments to express features that would allow the customer to keep exploring and browsing until they’re ready to pick up their purchase, which is already up front, processed, bagged, and waiting — no annoying lines!

Because not everyone owns a tablet or smartphone, consider creating a meaningful mobile-friendly in-store experience by lending custom tablet devices to shoppers as they enter the store; guide them through the tools and features that will help them find the products and relevant information they’re looking for to foster higher conversion rates and increased sales.

The opportunities to add value and provide your customers with uniquely customer-centric in-store solutions are endless. The sooner you can demonstrate your brand’s value and place in the shopping experience, the more useful a trip to your store will be and the more your customers will remain loyal to your brand.

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About the Author
Ted Curtin is a recognized strategic marketing leader with over 22 years experience covering online and offline marketing channels. Follow him on Twitter or at TedCurtin.com
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