49% of retailers name in-store mobile experience a top priority
Mar 06, 2019
I hate to disagree with the world of retail on this one, but someone needs to point out the obvious and that their goal should be to get the customers who walk through the doors to put away their phones and pay attention to what’s going on around them, rather than facilitating further disconnection, especially since the shopper is using it to compare prices, etc. The one possible exception that I would support is mobile POS which is just making the purchase process easier.
If management actually walked into their stores during busy hours and paid attention to what customers were doing with their phones when they walk through the store, they would notice that most are heads down, completely engaged with the phone, but not engaged with the shopping experience. They are going through the motions following what’s on the phone be it a shopping list or information you have posted about products they may be looking at or competitors’ products and pricing.
How about a little more human interaction / engagement? Oh that’s right, you need to have sales people on the floor for that don’t you. My bad. No, but seriously.
The reason you want customers in stores is so you can sell on impulse, otherwise there is no need for a store if nothing is impulse and everything is an intended, directed purchase. Yes, Ms are very much into living a life of intention. Not bad, but retailers need impulse. People seeing, touching, feeling, tasting, engaging with what’s in the store. Developing desires for products they hadn’t seen or knew anything about, or wanting those products that they can’t or think they can’t afford. If everything is an intended purchase, then there is absolutely no need for stores, just open distribution centers.
It’s hard to sell on impulse and it’s damned hard to sell anything to anyone who is not paying attention or is so focused on what’s on their phone that they miss everything else. So improving the experience so the customer is less engaged with their surroundings would be the last thing I would do.
Retailers ought to be finding ways to make the customer more engaged when they actually visit the store rather than engaged w/ their digital device. I'd be focused on improving the in store experience so the customer actually becomes engaged in their surroundings rather than passing through at the direction of their phones. They should be looking for ways to make the in store experience so entertaining that the last thing the visitor does is lock into their smartphone.
As retailers we want impulse behavior. The vast majority of people do not walk into stores and only buy what’s on their shopping list. And, it’s a good thing, because most often what brought them into the store was a promotional item / offer where the retailer is not making much or even losing money. Hence, we want the customer to make impulse purchases of higher margin goods, so we can not only increase sales, but make money in the process. Oh wait, that’s right Amazon doesn’t make money selling merchandise. Well not every business can copy the Amazon formula.
That said, there are ways to use the phone to get the customer more engaged and paying attention. But my 1st choice would be disengagement. I want them to be having so much fun, so excited about being there that the last thing they want to do is be heads down into their phones.
If improving the smartphone experience in a store leads to better or greater engagement in the store, then by all means it's a good thing. That's the question that you have to ask before going down that path. This is the reason that phone service is sometimes blocked in meetings and conference rooms. You want them engaged in what is taking place in the room. It would be easy to provide mobile access to information being addressed in the meeting, but you wouldn't have their undivided attention or engagement.
We are tied to our phones and improving the smartphone experience just makes it worse. Now some will argue that doing so would mean that the smartphone user would be more engaged in the store with the brand if you’re providing more information about the brand and stuff in the store vs. being engaged with content that has nothing to do with the store.
That's a possibility but not a guarantee. You could also make the argument that by improving the experience you would be able to provide information that the customer could easily send to their friends and family while on the spot, thus attracting more business. Again, a possibility, not a guarantee.
It's a tradeoff. You have to make the decision is the gain sufficient enough to offset the negative impact of increased usage. And, in lieu of living, breathing sales people, I guess you need the device to offer up sales and product information and suggestive selling.
Dudley Stevenson, founder and CEO of DWS Associates, has over thirty-five years’ experience in consumer marketing, business-to-business marketing, and direct marketing, including developing, planning, and implementing go-to-market strategies. He's also the author of "Marketing Direct: Breaking Through The Clutter." Working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, he and his team have helped clients such as IBM, Sony, Neiman Marcus, Arizona Highways, Marshall Field & Co., Mrs. Field’s, UNICEF, and Patagonia implement successful direct marketing programs. A longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, Stevenson is also a sought-after speaker. He’s given hundreds of presentations and workshops on marketing and direct marketing. His “Marketing Planning 101” workshop alone has reached more than 100,000 marketing and sales professionals.