Despite rumors which abounded since the creation of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retail isn’t going anywhere. Approximately 75% to 80% of purchases made today are made at physical retail locations. There are a number of reasons that consumers choose to shop in the physical space, but one that retailers need to be aware of is the fun component. Shopping isn’t just an errand anymore. It’s a social experience that gets consumers out of the house and interacting with the environment around them. As a result, it’s shortsighted to assume that all digital marketing ideas should focus on e-commerce.
Mobile provides a path where retailers can engage consumers in the shopping aisle and increase their purchase intent. Whether mobile apps are used to provide convenience, offer exclusive options or incentivize consumer shopping behaviors, these apps are a proven path to increasing sales. Here are five options for using mobile apps as part of the most effective marketing strategies for retail.
#1: Use Mobile as an In-Store Assistant
Convenience is key in the endless retail aisles that consumers must contend with to find the products they need. These individuals tend to become rapidly frustrated when they can’t locate an item or find a sales assistant to answer their questions. Offering mobile guidance eliminates that confusion and keeps brand affinity high.
The vast majority of consumers—77%—have used their mobile devices as digital sales assistants in the shopping aisle. These individuals may complete price comparisons, check out availability and pay with their smart devices. For them, mobile devices aren’t just for marketing in the store; they are indispensable tools.
Mobile has the ability to provide an endless well of information for consumers, while a human sales assistant’s knowledge can be limited. The consumer who wants to know the possible benefits of a vitamin supplement, for example, can easily look this information up on their mobile phone. A store sales assistant would probably not have this expertise and would be unable to help. Mobile provides a way for retailers to offer VIP sales assistance in a cost-effective way.
#2: Engaging Shoppers in the Moment With Location-Based Strategies
With mobile, brands can send location-specific advertisements, details, and offers to consumers. This helps to connect with the consumer on a more personal level, as the offers have the potential to reach them at the right moment while they’re near a store. Location-based advertising can also create an exclusive experience that boosts sales.
Starbucks is famous for offering location-based advertising that drives consumers to enter the store and make purchases. Consumers passing by will receive offers for discounts or reminders about specific events that places the company top-of-mind even if they hadn’t previously considered stopping in. The coffee company’s mobile app is among the most popular customer loyalty program apps because it provides location-based offers that consumers can use to:
Gain rewards points:
Starbucks tiers its rewards points so consumers who have more “stars” enjoy heightened rewards. As such, consumers who visit Starbucks locations more often receive the highest level of rewards.
Through the Starbucks app, consumers can both enter orders for pickup and pay for them in advance. This helps them to avoid the most frustrating part of the morning coffee run; lines.
Enjoy exclusive events:
Starbucks hosts double star days where consumers can gain double the rewards points for stopping by one of their locations. They are notified through push notifications sent to them as they pass stores.
Location-based marketing helps to guide consumers through the entryway of stores and increase their purchase intent. They can also work to make operations more efficient by taking over some time-consuming tasks for employees.
#3: Personalize the Consumer’s In-Store Experience
The ability to personalize the consumer experience in retail is a strong sales driver, as it creates a deeper connection. It’s also a crucial aspect of marketing as 40% of consumers report that personalization is a major purchase driver for them. However, with the volume that a popular brick-and-mortar location sees every day, this may seem an insurmountable task. Some retailers look to rewards programs to create this personalized experience.
Target recently announced its plan to roll out a rewards program that creates a greater personalized experience for shoppers. Through Target Circle, consumers can enjoy personalized offers on products, rewards on their birthdays and overall savings on purchases. As an added benefit, consumers will be able to vote on Target’s giving initiatives. Through their program Target enjoys several benefits, including:
Enhanced consumer affinity:
Providing personalized recommendations and incentives helps Target solidify itself as an ally for consumers during their shopping trip, which increases purchase potential.
Access to shopping data:
Through the app, Target will be able to gather more shopping data which will help the retailer personalize the consumer’s experience even more. The company will be able to keep building on this data until they have an app capable of thinking with near-human intelligence.
Opportunities for in-store upsells:
Target can forward in-the-moment marketing messages that will encourage consumers to try new products they might enjoy, which will likely increase the consumer’s overall shopping cart value.
With mobile data, retailers have more access to the information they need to create personalized experiences for consumers. Through intelligent personalization, retailers enjoy stronger connections with consumers that drive them to make purchases.
#4: Reward and Incentivize Purchase Path Behaviors
Retailers that want to direct consumers once they're in the store can use mobile rewards programs to do so. This is a marketing strategy that’s also been proven effective for CPG brands, as it can be used to get consumers to check out specific items in a brand’s catalog. This was a strategy Kraft leveraged when the brand wanted to increase sales of its baking products in Walmart locations during the holidays. Working with Shopkick, they established a tiered program that drove interest, directed consumers to products and improved purchase intent. The strategy worked in three stages:
In-app content that was holiday-inspired drove consumer interest before visiting the store. This content included recipes consumers could consider for holiday events while highlighting specific products.
Once they arrived at the store, consumers were incentivized to seek out products on the shelf in exchange for kicks (aka rewards points). They received these kicks for scanning UPCs on products, which encouraged them to handle items and primed them for sale.
Consumers who purchased all three of the featured products from Kraft received heightened rewards after they scanned their receipts. This established a positive brand impression that fostered ongoing goodwill.
Through this campaign, Kraft saw 18 million total campaign impressions. With an average 27% of scanners converting to purchase, the campaign drove an impressive ROI of 7.6:1 and more than half reported they had not considered purchasing Kraft products prior to the campaign.
#5: Follow Up After the Purchase
Following up after the consumer makes a purchase makes them feel valued. It can also act as a form of remarketing that encourages consumers to return to the retailer and buy more. Mobile apps make this possible by providing data from the consumer’s shopping trips, as well as contact information to send emails, rewards, coupons, and marketing messages. Mainly, there are four categories of messages that retailers can send to consumers after they leave their store, including:
Thank you messages:
A simple thank you for shopping goes a long way towards establishing brand affinity. Retailers can make it more impactful by offering rewards or coupons for future trips.
Surveys provide insight into store operations that can be used to enhance customer experiences. Inviting consumers to participate—with the promise of rewards or discount codes—helps retailers discover issues that customers encounter.
Online reviews are particularly crucial for retailers who are emerging or new to the area. Follow-ups post-shopping trip help remind consumers to review their local store and share their experience with others.
If a consumer has just signed up for a rewards program or indicated they’re new to the location, it can be helpful to let them know of future events and promotions in their area to encourage them to return.
Following up with the consumer helps to encourage retention. That’s a major benefit for brands because a repeat or long-term customer tends to be more valuable than a one-time customer. It’s a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one.
Mobile Options for Leveraging the Most Effective Marketing Strategies for Retail
Mobile is a key component in all the above methods as it allows the retailer to travel with the consumer through their trip and strategically influence their shopping behaviors. However, this type of marketing requires permissive use, in that the consumer has downloaded an app and opted into receiving messages from the retailer. To establish this permissive use, the retailer has two options; proprietary app creation and third-party partnerships. Both strategies have their pros and cons which brands must consider.
|Proprietary Apps||Third-Party Partnerships|
To gain the absolute maximum benefit from a mobile app strategy, it’s much wiser for retailers to use a combination of third-party and proprietary apps. This is already a strategy that established retailers like Target and Walmart use with great success. Through their proprietary apps, they can reward their existing loyal consumers, and by working with third parties, they can connect with new potential customers.
The most effective marketing strategies for retail require the use of mobile to provide consumers with a strong user experience that will guide them to products in the store. These apps work at every part of the purchase journey, from pre-shopping trip planning to checkout and beyond. Such strategies establish strong consumer relationships that create loyalty and drive ongoing sales.