How Mobile Can Provide Customers A Scrooge-Free Holiday Shopping Experience

by , Dec 2, 2013, 9:52 AM
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Pew Research put out a report earlier this year noting that 56 percent of U.S. consumers owned a smartphone. With so many consumers carrying a phone with them everywhere, as a retailer it makes sense to take advantage of the device -- particularly during the holiday season when consumers look for ways to alleviate holiday shopping stress.

This year, try bringing added benefit to your customers by helping their mobile device become their shopping companion.

Showrooming

The growth in smartphone ownership, and the instant access to Internet that accompanies owning a smartphone, has created something called the showrooming effect -- a phenomenon where brick-and-mortar stores become glorified showrooms for major online retailers.

While typically thought of as a negative for retailers, showrooming can actually be beneficial during the holidays. Long lines, low stock, and higher in-store prices associated with holiday shopping tend to create angry consumers. Encourage your customers to spend some time reviewing a desired product and conducting side-by-side comparisons with its competitors in-store, then once they have decided on a winner, direct them toward the mobile site as a way to purchase the product more easily.

Further incentivize customers to go this route by offering online-only specials, home delivery, and next-day shipping. This process not only ensures you a satisfied (stress-free) customer, but it helps alleviate chaos inside your store by providing additional purchase options.

In-Store Pick-Up

One of the biggest benefits of mobile devices is the ability to purchase remotely. Even better, many stores today allow customers to make a purchase online, and pick it up in-store that same day. Walmart has been successfully doing this for years, and many other major retailers are beginning to jump on board. During the holiday season, providing this service to customers can really set your business apart.

Let’s think of this from a consumer’s point of view.

Imagine a customer is purchasing gifts at a local competitor and they find out that the store just sold out of a must-buy toy on their child’s wish list. They know that your store has the item in stock, but don’t have the time to rush over immediately. Rather than completely changing plans, your store’s courtesy of same-day, in-store pick-up allows them order the toy online and pick it up at your store on their way home. Thanks to mobile’s instant access to anything, you have provided added convenience to your customer, and likely gave them a reason to return.

Just-in-time Advertising

Whether a customer enters your establishment to showroom or to shop, you should be utilizing their mobile device to provide in-store incentives.

Special CRM tools and geolocation tracking from mobile devices are great ways to identify customers who have downloaded your store’s mobile app or opted-in to receive promotional materials, and can be used to encourage customers to shop in your store over that of a competitor.

Not the type to typically provide incentives for opt-in customers? Consider making an exception during the holidays, since many consumers are looking to do the majority of their shopping in one store and often look for stores that can provide the best deal. By expressing your appreciation of the customer through discounts and promotions, you are more likely to create a happy, satisfied customer, which can in turn produce a loyal customer.

App Utilization

People love apps, especially if the app can somehow make their lives easier. While it is too late to develop a company mobile app for the upcoming holiday season, consider building one for next year. Think of the various features and functionalities that would enhance your customer’s in-store shopping experience, and develop an application that can provide those benefits. Although created with stressful holiday shopping in mind, your app may prove useful to customers all year long, and could become a major differentiator between you and competitors.

This holiday season, make it easy for customers to use mobile to their advantage -- it can provide extra capabilities that in-store shopping simply can’t, and will help ensure that your store never suffers from a holiday Scrooge. Through this, you may just find a customer who returns time and time again, long after the new year arrives. 

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