It’s no secret that retailers across industries have to be present in the mobile world. Long gone are the days of websites that are only easy to use desktop computers, mobile payment mechanisms continue to grow, and offers delivered directly to a consumer’s phone triggered by their proximity to beacons in store are coming quickly. The real question becomes how to marketers leverage all of these opportunities without burning out the consumer? The answer is: have a strategy to use these new forms of technology instead of just assuming all of them will work.
When it comes to websites, the challenge these days is to know what kind of device your consumers will be using to access it. More than ever, smartphones are becoming not only the screen of choice for consumers, but often times the only screen they have other than their TV. Yet, even on smartphones, there are some with smaller screens and some that are virtually tablets in their dimensions. Having a website that responds to that screen size is vital. This responsiveness gives the consumer the best user experience, making it easy for them to find the information they need quickly. Where many retailers get deterred though is their belief that an app is the solution to the mobile web challenge. Apps in and of themselves pose challenges as well, though. The first challenge is getting consumers to download your app, then the challenge is getting consumers to use the app after the first time. Consumers are becoming more and more selective when downloading and using apps, opting for ones that offer different features than a mobile site and ones that allow the consumer to control what kind of information he/she receives. Before investing in a mobile app, the retailer must consider the additional value-added features the app will include and ensure the app will be updated regularly to maximize the functionality and utility to the consumer. An app isn’t a necessity though, many times a mobile responsive website can accommodate the needs of the consumer and relieve the retailer of another piece of technology to keep up with.
Mobile payment, though, is a service retailers should be rapidly trying to integrate into their payment systems. The consumer fear of mobile payments or digital wallets is continually being challenged and more consumers are accepting this form of payment as not only secure, but also incredibly convenient. As large retailers begin accepting payment from mobile devices, the barrier decreases even more and the expectation of ease supplants fear. Independent retailers are going to have to investigate and integrate this payment option in the near future to keep up with these consumers.
The final mobile trend is one that hasn’t hit in full force yet, and depending on who you talk to, may be a longer shot for wholesale acceptance. Beacons, those little devices placed in store that trigger personalized deals for shoppers, have been on the radar for a while, but there are some very significant barriers to their use. Beacons only really work for retailers when they connect to a device and app the consumer already is using. This goes back to the first point made in this post: without a value-driven app, consumers have little impetus to really invest their time and energy into finding out if a retailer is getting it right when it comes to personalization of offers. Push notifications solely about the deals a consumer cares about most sound great in theory, but they must be timed right, extremely relevant and come across as nothing but a convenience to the consumer, a fine line when marketing is in play. To make this work, the retailer must have robust data on what the consumer purchases and when, must remind the consumer to turn on the functionality needed for the beacons (bluetooth, location services) and must only surprise and delight and never overbear.
The past few years have been a challenge in the marketing world; keeping up with social platforms, finding out the best way to reach consumers and revamping their legacy systems to accept new technology that is ever-changing. Yet the future doesn’t get any easier. Consumer expectations continue to evolve, and as the biggest retailers get savvier, the small ones must react. In an increasingly mobile-friendly world, building strategy around mobile web experience, implementing digital wallet capabilities and exploring beacon technology only when able to deliver relevance are all ways small retailers can avoid the mobile marketing overload.