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How Can Mobile Enhance Your Omni-Channel Retail Strategy?

Strategies for mobile and omni-channel retailing

Mobile apps are getting a lot of attention in omni-channel retailing, but retailers must keep in mind that mobile and loyalty programs should go hand in hand. An article on the Ad Age website pulls the curtain on mobile’s shiny toy image, revealing that mobile users hardly use their phones as a digital shopping companion for many specific category purchases.

For example, a recent poll conducted by market-research firm TNS found that only 2 percent of people used their mobile to shop for products in these categories: over-the-counter medication, pet food or alcohol. Only 1 percent of respondents used their mobile to shop for tobacco. In addition, the firm’s in-store observations concluded that fewer than five out of 1,000 shoppers in the snack aisle “interacted with their mobile device, and those who did were simply answering a phone call,” the article says.

To make an omni-channel strategy successful, retailers need to get a mobile app into consumers’ hands and then tie that to their loyalty records. That’s where information gathering comes from and it’s also the type of customer service that people expect. Customers want to be shown relevant information and they expect retailers to send targeted coupons based on their individual shopping preferences. But if you overwhelm consumers with information that’s not relevant to them, they’ll stop using your app.

This falls in line with responses by mobile users when asked what features they wanted in mobile: 16 percent said more mobile coupons; another 16 percent want to look up availability of an in-store product; 15 percent want an app that guides them around the store; and 13 percent want product recommendations and reviews. In your omni-channel strategy, a good mobile app could be found or constructed to provide these benefits.

The key is to make an app that is simple to use. That’s a challenge for retailers. Too often, retailers create an app that’s so complicated that it’s difficult for the average consumer to see the benefit of using it. As a result, they don’t use it.

So as you develop your omni-channel strategy, keep in mind the relevancy of your mobile app to your customers’ needs. For higher-end items, product details in an app should be more information oriented. A consumer is going to spend more time researching a $100 coffeemaker than a $3 gallon of milk. The same holds true for habitual purchases. It’s not likely that shoppers would use a mobile app to research a product that they buy once a week, but they would probably love getting a coupon for it. It may be the difference between them stopping at the corner convenience store for that gallon of milk versus making the trip to your store.

Source: Ad Age, July 2013