Mobile Experiences Must Be Wisely Incorporated into Brick-and-Mortar Retail
Brought to you by WBR Insights
Omnichannel has long been the focus of technologically-savvy brands who recognize that the only way for brick and mortar to survive in the digital age is to bring the power of mobile to their shopping experiences.
A high proportion of physical retail shoppers are using their smartphones while they're browsing products in their favorite stores. They are looking up product reviews, comparing prices, checking stock, as well as more connected experiences such as navigating aisles, and even checking out and paying for their goods. This is driving more brands to find ways to incorporate mobile technology into the shopping experience.
The trick with mobile integration, however, is to make sure that you're looking beyond simple novelties and are adding real value to the customer experience. As such, striking the right balance between mobile and personal service is of paramount importance.
For example, Nike recently launched a flagship store in New York called the Nike House of Innovation 000.
In the new store, customers can use their smartphones while browsing Nike's huge range of footwear. They can find out whether their size is in stock, without having to find a store associate to traipse backward and forwards from the stock room to do so. If the store is carrying the size they need, the customer can reserve a pair using their phone, and then collect their purchase from special lockers located in-store. The lockers are also unlocked with their phone. The customer can even use their phone to scan and pay for the shoes, adding to the experience and convenience by negating the need to wait in lineduring busy periods.
Nike's mobile innovation showcases the best of omnichannel by seamlessly blending digital and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences. All the interactions occur in-store, meaning Nike retains the foot traffic it needs to expose customers to additional marketing and purchase opportunities.
Other brands are opting for an entirely mobile-driven shopping experience in their physical stores.
Startup drinks brand Dirty Lemon, for example, has an entirely cashless and staffless store, also in New York, where customers can quickly and conveniently purchase refreshments using their smartphones. Described as a walk-in vending machine, the concept store allows customers to scan a QR code which begins the purchase process. They are then sent a text and invited to link a payment card to the account. The customer then takes the products they want and texts Dirty Lemon back detailing what they took.
The store is packed with RFID (radio frequency identification) and heat mapping technology, which allows Dirty Lemon to track inventory sold and monitor activity within the store. Not only does this ensure stock is kept intact, but it also provides much-needed security to an operation with no human staff to catch thieves.
As we've already touched on, there is no point to introducing mobile technology for the sake of it, and it's important to make sure an innovation is a good fit for your brand before committing to it.
Walmart, for example, inspired by Amazon's cashierless store concept, Amazon Go, began testing out its own mobile-based scan and go service, which let customers scan products as they shopped and then check out using their smartphones. However, the innovation did not prove popular with Walmart customers, and so the brand decided not to push ahead with a general rollout.
This illustrates why it's important to be flexible and willing to abandon innovation dead ends should they not prove popular. Incorporating these kinds of mobile experiences into your offering often comes with a steep price tag, and no brand wants to be throwing good money after bad on mobile technology which doesn't add value. If a giant such as Walmart is cautious about wasting money this way, then smaller brands should definitely be careful.
Any innovation which is introduced to the brick-and-mortar retail experience needs to be marketed to ensure customers are aware of what it can do. You can't rely on your customers to discover things for themselves, so make sure they are signposted, and staff are fully versed in the new technology. That way, they'll be able to handle any questions your store visitors might have.
Omnichannel experiences using mobile technology can offer your customers great experiences and add value to your business, but they must be introduced wisely and with the goals of your brand in mind. Otherwise, you won't be able to reap the full benefits of this great technology.