It’s safe to say that a business with a strong mobile foundation can gain a number of important advantages. But while many business owners grasp this idea, fewer know how to actually go about seizing the possible advantages. It’s no longer enough to have responsive design or a sharp app, because consumers are beginning to expect business owners to mobile integrations that improve the experience at physical stores and locations. Here are four steps in particular that can make a significant impact and help meet those growing consumer expectations.
1. Put A Mobile App To More Use
As stated, building and maintaining an app isn’t enough. The app alone can certainly serve to improve your branding efforts and in some respects, it functions as a marketing tool on its own. But your app can do so much more.
You should look to execute direct marketing campaigns and ongoing engagement; sending push notifications and alerts to advertise sales, new products, or even new store openings. If your app has the capability, you should allow users to buy product directly through the mobile service, or at the very least reserve a product in a store. If you sell services, allow users to request or make in-store appointments and consultations. Furthermore, you should enable some form of two-way communication to quickly and directly address customer concerns or feedback. For more information and inspiration on these sorts of tactics you can check out this post from Glowtorch.
You can think of it this way: if you have a passive app containing information about your store locations, inventory, and pricing, even with purchase and sale capability built in, you’re still depending on the customer to decide how to make use of it. Build in push notifications and and regular updates with new information about sales, coupons, reward points, etc., you’re effectively reaching out to the customer to plant seeds of interest.
2. Enable Contactless Transactions
Becoming more mobile-savvy isn’t just about what you do with your app. It’s also about creating store environments that allow customers to use their mobile devices as part of the overall consumption process, in ways to which they are starting to become accustomed. In the past year or so, that has come to include making payments with their phones – consumers are gradually embracing the idea of using Apple Pay and similar systems to take the place of their physical credit and debit cards.
All businesses should be looking to equip their locations with smartphone-compatible payment terminals that can handle mobile-based transactions, both meeting the preference of a growing number of customers and presenting a forward-thinking image. Additionally, as Worldpay points out, those same systems can go a long way toward speeding up lines and reducing transaction time.
Indeed while Apple Pay’s growth has been slower than Apple anticipated, a recent report from Mobile World Live shows that the rate of growth has improved considerably. Meanwhile, additional mobile-paced payment mechanisms (such as Bitcoin and competing cryptocurrencies) are also gaining traction with the public.
3. Use In-Store Bluetooth Beacons
Bluetooth beacons have been recognized as the next big thing in retail, and it’s easy to understand why once you get a grasp of their capabilities. Basically, beacons are small, Bluetooth-enabled tools that can be placed throughout a store location in order to identify and reach out to individual customers’ mobile devices. Once they make a connection, beacons can act as intelligent systems that help customers with their shopping experience by helping them find their way around the store, notifying them of promotions, sales and coupons, and even providing suggestions based on their own shopping history. It is a great means of improving a store’s contact with its customers while enabling a much appreciated independent experience. For further reading on the capability of Bluetooth beacons, you can check out this helpful content from Infoworld.
4. Automate Customer Service
The above piece from Infoworld raises an interesting opportunity for in-store support: supplying customers with iPads (or other tablets) upon entry, with the devices being used as guides and channels for dialogue. A small bank of tablets at the front of a store can allow customers to search through appointment or service options, schedule time if necessary, check inventory and make any number of inquiries. The same functions can be achieved through your app, but with this kind of implementation you are offering a familiar interface with a strong visual queue to inspire interaction and deeper engagement. Offering this brand of automated customer service is a good way to bring some of the convenience of online shopping back into stores. It’s also a cost-effective way to attend to your customers.
This guest post has been provided by John Chery, a New York-based freelance writer who specializes in all topics related to technology and business. In his downtime, John enjoys watching Billions on Showtime and learning about gardening.