Emerging Platforms Targeting Wireless

How to Think About Your Mobile Strategy

Posted by Todd Sherman on October 4th, 2012 at 8:10 am

In speaking with a lot of brick and mortar retailers about their mobile plans, a clear pattern has emerged. In general, there is a three-step evolution in how they are approaching the opportunity:

  1. Create a mobile-optimized website: basically a copy of their traditional online site reformatted to work on a smaller screen and within a mobile browser.
  2. Develop a simple app that imitates the traditional website, but may add some additional elements like finding the closest store to the shopper’s current location.
  3. Realize and take advantage of the unique and powerful potential that mobile has to offer, and treat it as an enhancement of the in-store experience since customers are using their smartphones to assist with the shopping experience. This includes developing a well-rounded app that engages customers at every point along the shopping process.

The first two represent a “business as usual” strategy and are usually the easiest, non-disruptive approach to providing “something” to the mobile shopper.

But they represent a defensive approach in what is shaping up to be the biggest opportunity in decades for in-store retail.

It’s a transformational time in brick & mortar retail. The number of shoppers that are using smartphones and how they are using them to shop presents a huge opportunity. It’s a game-changer for in-store customer engagement.

To put it into perspective, online sales represent less than 10% of all retail. More than 90% is happening in the store – dwarfing ecommerce. And retailers have the choice to view mobile as an amazing opportunity… or something to be avoided.

Target and Safeway are two forward-thinking retailers who realize it’s not about playing defense. They are taking advantage of the unique opportunities mobile offers to leverage their physical stores and turn these valuable assets into sources of significant competitive advantage.

It’s about understanding the very different and new world of in-store retail and taking advantage of it by helping your customers have a much better experience.

First it’s useful to look at how successful retailers are NOT thinking about mobile.

It’s not:

It is:

  • interactive
  • engaging
  • an extension of the retailer’s brand promise
  • making their shopping experience more enjoyable and more efficient
  • delivering a truly cross-channel experience that goes well beyond the purchase online and pickup in-store
  • creating a two-way, one-to-one communication channel
  • providing the retailer unique and detailed insights into each customer that can be used to improve their individual shopping experience
  • turning the physical store into a greater asset

Take this unique opportunity to marry the in-store experience with the mobile device. Retailers that see this for the tremendous opportunity it is will move to the front of the pack. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.

Whoever gets there first and gets it right will have a substantial competitive advantage.

To see more specific steps on how to create a successful mobile strategy, download the free white paper “Create a Winning Mobile Strategy.”

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