Smartphones have opened up a world of possibilities and placed power into the hands of the consumer. Our smartphones have allowed us, the consumer, to walk into a store and find the item we like, checking over the product’s features, and then checking the retailer’s price. We quickly pull out our smartphone to make sure we are getting a good deal or if there is a better deal online and execute that purchase instead, better known as showrooming. This has caused slumping sales in many brick-and-mortar stores, who see online and mobile shopping as a threat. However some stores, are recognizing that mobile shopping is only becoming more popular and encourage customers to come to their store with smartphone in hand, ready to shop. These stores have put strategies in place including price matching, lowest price guarantees to turn shoppers into purchasers.
One of the biggest retailers hurt by showrooming, has been Best Buy, who was once seen as a large showroom for mobile shoppers. Today, Best Buy encourages shoppers to browse on their smartphone, however now will price match to encourage shoppers to pull out their wallets. If you had asked me over a year ago, I would have said that showrooming is going to destroy many brick-and-mortar stores. Today, I see it only hurting margins for those stores, but with tactics like Best Buy, still allowing them to stay competitive in this market of online shopping. If anything, I think it has pushed the brick-and-mortar stores to be more innovative and strategic in reaching the customers. I also see this as a win for the mobile industry, as retailers are finding new ways to reach their consumer through the same device that is being used against them. Showrooming will be a win for the consumer, but overall continue to push innovation in other areas of digital. If you haven’t ever seen the video for Dow-Corning, “A Day Made of Glass,” then I would strongly urge you to see this five-minute video. There is a place in the video that shows the possibilities of the not so distant future in retailing and mobile. This type of technology for retailers that is shown in the video could put the power back in the brick-and-mortar stores.
While a consumer may not be consistently making their purchases on their mobile phone, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a major influence on the decision-making process. While it may not be the sexiest way of reaching your audience, one of the most powerful mobile marketing channels is SMS. The great thing about SMS, is that it is permission-based marketing and allows the marketer to send out information for product announcements and/or coupons. Studies have indicated that 97% of mobile subscribers read an SMS (text) message within 15 minutes of receiving it and 84% respond within 1-hour. Let’s be honest, social media wouldn’t be even close to where it is today without the rise of the smartphone. Taking the smartphone and combining it with social media has dynamic results for marketers. Marketers have multiple channels to help encourage today’s consumer to make a purchase or if nothing else, create positive brand sentiment, if used correctly. 2014 is the year of mobile and also the year of visual media, from Instagram to Snapchat, brands can deliver ways of driving traffic back to their site and highlight new products that engage the consumer. Aside from SMS, email, and social media, another way to encourage and drive sales can come through their own branded-app. Target has their Cartwheel App, which delivers value to the in-store shopper, who is able to use a coupon at checkout. I see this type of app usage as a way of creating loyalty among customers who are using this app and ultimately a brand affinity for Target.
Another brand I want to highlight is Sephora, the beauty-retail giant. Sephora has taken their current app and created an Instagram-like commerce feature to retain loyalty members. The beauty retailer has rolled out an initiative called Beauty Board within its iPhone app that leverages mobile photo sharing to connect loyalty members with each other. Sephora sees mobile not only as a device to purchase on, but a device, which can assist and enrich the user’s experience with the brand. Adding a social component into the user experience is a smart move because it gives their consumer a new and more organic way to interact with the brand. Ultimately Sephora is taking their app and creating loyalty, sparking engagement, and generating more leads. In today’s noisy marketing messages, Sephora gets it and is cutting through the clutter with innovative mobile marketing strategies.
Have any of your favorite brands started offering special deals or price-match from mobile?