By 2018, less than 0.01% of mobile apps will...
By 2020, 80% of retail payment transactions will still happen in stores. However, it doesn’t mean retailers should give up on technology. Studies show 92% of consumers want to shop in stores equipped with smartphones and tablets. They do not mind receiving beacon-triggered notifications and love Virtual Reality, too. How to engage customers in retail? Try this.
5 steps to customer engagement: retail apps rule
- Treat apps as a direct path to a purchase. Through 2017 and beyond, you should offer easy and convenient ways to try new products and make purchases using every piece of media, be it a mobile app, website or social media account. Your customers certainly enjoy showrooming: that is, they visit a physical store to interact with a product only to buy it later online. Looking for fresh customer engagement ideas in retail? You can pull an Amazon and craft a barcode-scanning price comparison app enabling users to track bargains. Mobile apps like ShopAdvisor and RetailMeNot also help customers check prices at chosen stores and deliver discount alerts. Before making a purchase, 57% of US shoppers seek advice on Facebook and Twitter, so your retail tracking app should support social media integration. Our company has in fact built a similar application for a US-based startup and enhanced it with payment options (you can visit web site and portfolio for further information). Omni-channel is here to stay. If you want to succeed in 2017 & beyond, you should create a strong online presence, invest in mobile app development and provide Wi-Fi connection in stores so that your customers could conduct research on the go;
- Offer “push-the-button” products and services. According to McKinsey, the implementation of IoT-based customer engagement strategies in retail can have an economic impact of $ 0.4-1.2 trillion by 2025. Mobile is the first stage of the global Internet of Things retail revolution. Amazon Dash buttons now enable users to buy detergents, coffee and sweets in one click. Domino’s Pizza, one of the early adopters of the button technology, now allows customers to order dinner by simply launching their mobile app. Tech-savvy brands like Stitch Fix go even further: you can start an account on their website, fill the sizing data, receive clothes on a subscription bases and keep the items that you like. Provided your company delivers the ultimate shopping experience, it will never go off customers’ radar;
- Use location data. According to the recent study conducted by SITO, 85% of shoppers would like to receive relevant beacon-triggered messages including digital coupons and personal shopping tips. Beacons are the next big thing in ad targeting, since you directly address the customers you want to walk into your store. Taco Bell, the famous fast-food restaurant chain that serves 2 billion customers every year, held a successful Happy Hour campaign a couple of years ago. They installed beacons at some locations across California and promoted their app through the New York Times iPhone application. Once a Taco Bell customer happened to be near their restaurant, he received a digital coupon that could be redeemed within an hour. Similar strategy was chosen by Indigo Books who send book and music recommendations to customers who load their app in town. 72% of customers will respond to a call-to-action message if they are within the sight of a retailer, so the game is definitely worth the candle;
- Focus on mobile payments. Customer engagement activities in retail aren’t limited to push notifications and discount tracking. 61% of customers would rather use a self-serve payment kiosk than interact with a shop assistant. By 2018, 1.2 billion smartphones will employ NFC technology. As a result, more retailers abandon old payment terminals in favor of PayPal, Apple Pay and Mercury payment solutions which support both EMV cars and mobile payments. According to John Worley, CEO of Proximity Marketing Division at Proxama, mobile is the “perfect synergy” between payments, advertising and building customer loyalty – and there’s Starbucks to prove it. In 2016, 21% of their payment transactions were made on mobile, while the number of My Starbucks Reward members surpassed 11 million (USA only);
- Do not ignore Virtual & Augmented Reality. While Augmented Reality retail apps are not exactly new (after all, there are Penguin Navi, IKEA Virtual Catalog and Converse Shoe Sampler), it is Pokemon Go that revealed the technology’s full potential last year. McDonalds and L’inizio Pizza Bar were among the first retail brands to increase attendance by luring pocket monsters in. The latter, for instance, claims it took 12 Pokemon (around $ 10) to boost traffic by 75%. In case you don’t know how to engage younger customers in retail, you can partner with Niantic to turn your coffee shop into a fully-functional Pokemon Gym or even build your own AR app! Another example comes from Alibaba, a prominent Chinese e-commerce company that distributed inexpensive VR headsets prior to the 2016 Singles Day and registered the biggest 24 hours sales ever ($ 17.8 billion);
- Embrace cognitive commerce. Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, the founder of Retail Minded, believes retailers (even small companies) now have more access to data – thanks to inexpensive RFID-tags, beacons and the growing adoption of POS and CRM solutions. Through 2017 and beyond, machine learning algorithms will enable companies to crunch customer data and plan engagement activities in retail more effectively. Smart product recommendations and ad targeting, dynamic pricing and fraud detection – these are just a few things you can do with Big Data. There are also chatbots – lightweight Artificial Intelligence apps that run inside popular messengers (Facebook, WeChat, Kik and Telegram) and process customer questions asked in natural language. Besides being an invaluable source of data, chatbots help small companies save on support and increase retail customer engagement. Some of the early examples of bots’ usage in retail include the Mall of America, the largest US store with 40 million visitors per year. The mall has recently partnered with IBM to create E.L.F. – a simple chatbot that asks shoppers how much time they’ve got and what they are looking for and navigates them through the huge shopping center. According to Harris Poll and DigitasLBi reports, over 30% of US customers would like to buy something through a chatbot and are ready to spend as much as $ 55.8 on the purchase. What’s more, 63.9% of consumers believe brands should be available on messaging platforms. You can’t miss the opportunity, can you?
If you’re running out of customer engagement ideas or want to cement your place in the competitive retail market, building a mobile app is a win-win solution. Since Android dominates most markets (including Asia, Australia and Latin America), it makes sense to address an Android development company first and proceed to the iOS version later on (although the choice of a platform largely depends on the preferences of your target audience).