What if your customer just walked past your store? What if your next customer is within the reach of your post code?
How do you attract these customers? Is there a way of reaching out to these customers so they can find you?
Yes, there is. Innovations in mobile and retail technologies are giving us these solutions.
Whether you own a retail outlet on the high street or not, it is pretty much a must have to create an Ecommerce website for your retail business. If you are serious about generating business from your ecommerce website then pay particular attention to the ecommerce platform you choose for your site. Magento is one of the most reliable ecommerce platforms out there which also gives you the ability to develop custom functionality and the option to integrate with a backend inventory management or ERP system. This choice becomes even more critical if you are planning to have a responsive ecommerce platform or a custom built mobile app for your ecommerce site. I would also like to stress here the importance of sound SEO, retail marketing and social media strategy for your online business.
Mobile App and Geofencing
Having a mobile app is not just a nice to have but a must have for customer engagement and also to boost sales. More and more people are shopping on their mobile phones and with credit card companies gearing up to launch mobile payment solutions, this is an area you don’t want to ignore. Monetise which specialises in mobile money solutions has major investment and backing from Visa Inc. They own the technology and are delivering mobile money solutions to major banks around the globe. They have recently announced apps for Turkish Airlines, Ziraat mobile banking service and a P2P payment service for an Indonesian Bank.
All of this means that mobile operators will be introducing mobile SIMs integrated with credit cards sooner than most people know of. This in turn will further promote the mobile use and online shopping using a mobile phone. If you are in the retail sector, don’t hold back. Create a mobile app which is integrated with your online shopping application. You will not only be in a position to retain your customer base but expand your market as mobiles in the very near future start to accept mobile payments.
Geofencing allows you to reach out to your customers within a certain geographical location using GPS tracking. Since geofencing relies on GPS tracking, it is more effective in a wider area and not as effective within the boundary of the store. However, when used in combination with beaconing, you can elevate the customer experience to another level and massively improve the chances of guiding potential customers to your store. Instead of random SMS marketing, the benefit of geofencing is that the customer is physically present within your postal code or within a block radius of your store. Imagine a family out for shopping and they receive a discount voucher for your store or a free drinks voucher to your coffee shop. With push notifications, your mobile app does not even need to be switched on; your customer will receive the voucher directly in their phone.
Now here is a smart technology that uses economical and efficient Bluetooth communication to send signals to your customer’s phones. Beacons are small light weight devices which are installed in your store and they communicate directly with the app in the mobile phone. As soon as the phone comes within the Bluetooth reach of the beacon, the beacon can engage with the app. The best thing is that the app does not even have to be switched on. Even smarter bit is that the mobile phone does not even have to have your mobile app. The beacon can work with third party apps like the ones published by discount voucher companies.
How does this relate to shopping experience? Clothing companies in the US and large retailers in the UK have been experimenting with Bluetooth beacons installed in the mannequins. When the customer comes within a certain radius of the mannequin, the beacon can awaken the app and send a discount voucher to the customer. If you stretch your imagination, the applications of this technology are huge. For example, store can send high quality images of products related to the customer’s last purchase on their previous visit to the store. Or store can send a welcome message to the customer when they enter a particular department.
This article is not about recommending a particular product or a technology but rather about designing the entire shopping experience for your customer. What is the journey you want your customer to go through from the time they come across your brand on the web to the first time they step in your door. Whether you own a retail store or just an ecommerce application, it is time to revisit the drawing board and work on your retail marketing and customer engagement strategy and see how the new technologies will help you grow your business..