Will mobile, driving showrooming and online purchases, be the end of bricks-and-mortar?
I'd argue the opposite: mobile infrastructure can make stores better at all the things they need to do: find the right shoppers, guide them to the storefront and give them an experience that makes them want to buy.
Mobile provides unrivaled targeting data, unifying information from the desktop and mobile web, apps, third-party data, geo-specific information and more, all compiled through a shopper's personal device. And when you add real-time store inventory and dynamic ad creative into the mix, chains can ensure that mobile ads drive shoppers to the precise store outlets where items are in stock so shoppers aren’t disappointed on arrival. Stores then can match the right shoppers with poorly-selling items, in real-time. As data privacy standards develop, this kind of targeting will become even simpler to deploy without alienating.
Once you've found the right shoppers, you need to bring them into your store and toward relevant products. Next-generation mobile maps make it easier than ever to guide shoppers to a storefront from anywhere. GPS advancements allow stores to pinpoint a mobile device within just a few feet, so merchants can draw passersby from nearby sidewalks or within malls. Take the CoreLocation API of iOS 8, for example, which leverages technologies such as motion sensors, cellular, GPS and WiFi to provide extremely accurate indoors positioning--technology stores can procure with ease. In-store interactive technologies like iBeacon and Bluetooth LE systems let stores or brands message shoppers when they near a specific product or a particular aisle.
Once you've brought a shopper to the store, you need to provide a great experience. The moment a shopper approaches, mobile apps can share shopper data such as clothing size, color and style preferences, and key demographic information, helping salespeople greet shoppers with items they’re likely to want, a potential high-end concierge experience for every shopper.
Then there's the social aspect to shopping: when people involve friends and family, they buy more. Mobile devices are making store shopping more social than ever, largely through shoppers' sharing pictures of what they're looking to buy. As mobile cameras improve and data gets cheaper, it's increasingly simpler for shoppers to share photos and videos of what they're looking to buy, get fast feedback on from peers on their purchase decisions and ultimately buy more.
Eventually, bricks-and-mortar outlets will also go further in syncing their apps with social network APIs so in-store shoppers can more easily ask their Facebook friends if they should buy a pair of glasses.
Mobile infrastructure can help attract the right shoppers, guide them to storefronts, and give them an experience that drives sales. That's infrastructure for incredible opportunity. Welcome to the new era of mobile and the new era of stores.