August 4, 2011
Written by Kate Beasley
It’s been called a cell phone, a handheld, a PDA, a mobile and a smartphone to name few. Today retail operators can begin calling it their itty bitty billboard.
The evolution of the mobile device has brought many capabilities to the headlines, payments being the number one topic of discussion and news. However, for retailers around the globe, payments are not a challenge they speak of. Their challenges are everything that comes before, during and after the transaction and remain the same as they have always been; acquiring customers, engaging customers and retaining customers, all of which can not only be addressed by the smartphone but, as well, can be taken to a whole new level.
Consumer are said to take their smartphones with them everywhere they go, more often than any other gadget, identification, wallet, key, etc.. They don’t leave home without them. They take them in the car, on a bike, on a train, to work, to school, to shop, to the hospital, the list goes on, and users are known to look at their smartphone, on the average once every 90 seconds, making the smartphone, otherwise known as, the itty bitty bill board, the most innovative and effective means of marketing available to retailers today. According to research firm Experian Simmons in its “2011 Mobile Consumer Report,” More than 33.3 million U.S. consumers already engage in shopping-related activities on their mobile phones.
The possible opportunities to market a retail business are countless. Whether an independent, single unit boutique or a large brand with global presence, apps abound with such powers and capabilities as geo-locating consumers, pushing deals and coupons, acknowledging and greeting the loyal customer, providing product information, checking back after the transaction and, yes, even apps and hardware enabling payments. So many channels to consider, where should a retail or hospitality business operator begin to takes its’ place in the mobile marketing world?
Acquisition marketing spend has been the focus of most marketing budgets for decades today those dollars are being shared, almost equally with retention spend. With mobile technology retailers can decrease spend and increase purchase results beginning with the opportunity to reach customers, anytime, anywhere. A consumer may enter a shopping center environment or downtown shopping vicinity and through the power of geo-locators, merchants can begin utilizing the itsy bitsy billboard by pushing store location and brand information to the users’ mobile device. Once the consumer knows who and where the retailer is the merchant can begin to engage and entice that user by offering coupons, deals and other incentives which will pull the customer in.
Upon entry a user can swipe or tap an NFC poster or 2D barcode and begin reviewing store sales and offers as well as product information and reviews. After time a loyal customers purchasing data will accumulate and aggregate and will provide the merchant to only deliver pertinent information to that customer. This will encourage customers to actually review deals and offerings rather than falling into the auto-delete mode that is so common today as a result of spam offerings.
With data aggregation store management and sales staff will be able to greet a customer by name and see their purchase history, providing the retailer the opportunity to deepen the relationship and up-sell the customer. This all occurs long before the payment transaction begins. With another tap or swipe a customer will be able to present a coupon which the sales staff can easily redeem without additional steps.
Once the transaction has completed the merchants are given what some deem as the most valuable opportunity, the opportunity to thank and invite that customer back with an additional offer valid on next visit. Before the customer has ever left the store they have been invited back to spend more. All of these opportunities together are only made possible through the power of the mobile device, otherwise known as, the itty bitty billboard.
Smartphones and other mobile devices are able to perform most of these tasks today, with more features coming in the near future. Consumers are ready and retailers can begin their campaigns today. For many retailers initiation can begin simply by connecting their Marketing Department with the IT Department others may become empowered through experts surrounding this space that will guide, create, manage and evolve campaigns designed for specific companies, as well as companies fully prepared to conduct an entire cloud ecosystem.
Cloud computing, simply put, is the environment in which all of these apps can congregate, exchange pertinent information, empower the merchant to make every ping relevant and every consumer to make better purchase decisions. “Better,” from whose perspective? Form both from the merchant and the consumer perspective, resulting in, a mutually beneficial experience that ultimately results in happier consumers spending more. Regardless of the approach, early adoption retailers now have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this movement and place their brand in front of all consumers, who are ready and willing, via the itty bitty billboard.
Kate Beasley, Mobile Commerce Business Development and Marketing Strategist
Kate Beasley entered the mobile industry with a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience, ranging from the Banking and Finance industry to Retail and Hospitality in Executive roles. For the past 3 years Kate has done very little outside of eat, drink and dream mobility.
As an executive in retail and hospitality marketing and operations Kate spent her time creating new revenue channels, maximizing on existing channels and utilizing the latest and greatest technologies to do so. As smartphones began to make their way into the masses she immediately saw the opportunities mobility could offer and was eager to be part of that creation and integration process.
Kate is currently consulting for three different start-ups all of which are mobile platforms: mobile wallet, mobile healthcare and social mobile.
Beasley graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Degree in English and received a degree from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Business Marketing.