Mobile Apps For Better In-Store Customer Engagement

July 01, 2016 5 min read

On the last stop of our technology ride, we are going to talk about mobile apps that will connect with your customers. After going through the latest display technologies and in-store technologies that are currently available for retailers to use, mobile is the absolute next step.

The smartphone has become the number one device to own because it combines the mobility of cell phones, Internet access and the functionality and customizability of personal computers along with other traits acquired from PDA’s, GPSs, media players and so on.

It is only natural for retailers to tap into this well of immense possibilities and create a “full experience” for their customers. But while others might call them invasive or impractical, the reality is that they work, they make our lives easier as customers and as retailers or employees.

Check out this infographic with mobile apps for retail stats to form a clearer view on where we're heading.

Coupon Apps

Enrolling for coupons apps makes it easier to reach customers, it offers them a real time connection with the promotions in your store. Some apps offer the possibility to display the coupon directly at the cashier, without customers having to print them.

it is also a great way to show them that you use multiple communication channels, that you stay in touch with the technological trends and that you want to offer them a good experience and interaction with you, overall.

One good example is The Coupons App that is available in the Google Play Store as well as on iTunes .

Branded Store Apps

Making an app for your brand is quite an investment, having the possibility to cost up to $6000 or more, depending on what exactly you want to put in the app and on what operating systems you want it to work on. But for the long run, as Carter Thomas from Blue Cloud Solutions says in his article on the costs of developing an app, "I’ve seen apps that cost $3,000 drive about 2K new users to a website a month, with an average time on site that is 400% higher than web visitors." it just might be worth it.

You can see the who's and what's of retail mobile apps based on actual studies in this nifty article from AppLift. They talk about demographics, how often retail apps are used, the main reasons why these apps are used in-store, and so on.

If you're wondering what you should offer your customers, you have to see what they value the most in an app.

  1. As with websites user interface is the first and most important detail.Think of it like the first impression on a blind date. Apps have to be visually appealing both in structure and in content.
  2. Updates must be frequent, always let your customers know what new goodies you have on stock, alert them on items that are limited, or about to be sold out and so on.
  3. The text is important as well. You have to have a clear and concise writing style, that supports your brand values and with clear CTA's (call to action).

Also, as we discussed last week, your app should be used in parallel with Beacons and / or NFC to ensure 100% efficiency and increase engagement.

In this article from Econsultancy you can read about the 10 retail apps that have changed the game or are top ranking in the US.

Barcode Scanner Apps

A barcode scanner is an app that allows customers to scan products with their phone and receive more information on them, saving the products as favorites and so on. Most likely this type of app is able to read product barcodes, Data matrices and QR codes.

As an example, we offer the Scandit app which is able to scan even the most difficult of barcodes and is available on almost all mobile platforms, even some that you probably never heard of. They also offer some mobile solutions for retailers as you can see in the video below.

Also here is a video of how well their scanner app actually works.

Wallet Apps

When we think of wallet apps there are two kinds that come to mind.

  1. Apps like Stocard allow users to store all their loyalty cards / reward cards on it,. In this way it eases the wallets of customers by canceling the need to carry around all those plastic cards. Some of these wallet apps, such as FidMe also bring coupons and deals directly to consumers.
  2. The second type is the mobile / electronic wallet which allows users to pay in stores with their mobile phones, make orders online, pay via mobile and so on. We are going to discuss more about mobile payment below. You can see in this Hongkiat list 10 of the best mobile payment apps available.

Mobile POS (mPOS)

Mobile payment systems were the next logical step to make the life of both retailers and customers easier. Instead of waiting in never ending lines that usually make customers simply leave, feeling disappointed and costing the brand both a sale and possible loyalty, retailers might be interested in making the checkout process as easy and as fast as possible.

So what is it and how exactly does it work?

A definition is given by the people at TechTarget in which they state that: "An mPOS ( mobile point of sale) is a smartphone, tablet or dedicated wirelessdevice that performs the functions of a cash register or electronic point of sale terminal. mPOS implementations allow service and sales industries to conduct financial transactions in place, improving the customer experience (CX) and freeing up valuable real estate that would otherwise be dedicated to a POS countertop. An mPOS can also be cost-effective, allowing a small business owner to conduct transactions without having to invest in an electronic register or pay someone to support the software."

There are many types of mobile payment systems but only a few interest us:

  • Direct mobile billing - used mainly for check out on e-commerce websites
  • Mobile web payments(WAP) -the wallet apps
  • Contactless NFC payments - used for transactions in physical stores

One of the many examples of mobile payment solutions currently available.

The Magic Word: Omni-channel

So this word has been buzzing around for a while now and for the retail industry it simply means multi-channel communication with customers, focusing exclusively on their shopping experience, while data is being collected to ensure more personalized experiences for each individual.

The first channel was the physical store, followed by mail and phone orders, by online shopping and finally mobile shopping.

An Omni-channel strategy has to integrate all aspects (offline and online) into the back end of the business. Meaning that if a customer walks into your store, the sales representative will have access to that customer's previous purchases and preferences, as will the representatives for customer service both on the phone and online.

On the consumer side, he or she is able to access the store inventory on the website on a PC / laptop, buy the desired item from another device and receives it wherever he or she wants (store pick up, home delivery, etc.)

It takes a lot of effort to manage all these both physical and financial but as technology will continue to advance, so will the customer's demand for a more valuable shopping experience.

Indifferent of the medium where the sale takes place, this experience has to be seamless.

Here we have the an example of Macy's omni-channel experience/approach:

With That Being Said...

Putting all these amazing ideas into perspective, including the current display technologies and some of the best retail technologies that improve customer experience we have to consider mobile as well if you want to engage customers both in store and online and offering them a complete experience that will guarantee a sale and could bring more business to your store.

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