More people are on their mobile phones while shopping than ever before. Not talking on the phone while shopping, although that does happen, but using their mobile as a shopping tool. Although it may seem like the enemy, as they’re usually hunting for the bigger, better deal, it’s really your best ally. That is, if you know how to make this trend work for you. Making it work for you is all about targeting your customers and getting them to tune into your channels exclusively. Your apps, QR codes and your digital coupons are your best assets for growing and maintaining your customer base. You’ve built every other kind of connection, now it’s time to build a mobile one.
First there are shopping apps, and customers are “In Search of the Mobile Shopping Companion” http://bit.ly/IHGlcZ. Mobile+Positive used the Luth Research App Traffic Index to determine the most popular apps. The index used an algorithm to do statistical analysis of app comments, ratings, pricing, category placement and release dates to index relative downloads of an app since its launch. The result? The top 5 were Target, Amazon Mobile, ShopSaavy, SnapTell and Walmart. Only 2 out of the top 5 are store-branded apps. In total, the list measures the relative popularity of 16 mobile shopping apps. Even out of those 16, only 5 of them are store-branded apps. What does that mean? It means there’s an opportunity out there for more stores to offer up their own brand of mobile app. Shoppers tend to flock to apps that are applicable across all retail stores because they’re convenient. What if a store’s own app were more convenient than a third-party app? That just may be the key. How would that be done? By having more scannable items and offering up more exclusive content experiences for your customers.
Chelan Fresh of Washington state has taken advantage of this tactic by partnering with Greenscans to make 16 varieties of its apples scannable http://bit.ly/JdKNCO. When scanned, the barcode stickers open up exclusive video content. Stickers on produce traditionally just mention something about what type it is and use the company name. A scannable barcode on that sticker is an add-on with content value. Brands should take note and work with stores that sell their products to add that same content value, releasing content that’s exclusive to that store’s app. Creating a unique experience is the way to get customers scanning, and will also increase that store’s app popularity over a third-party app as a result. Yet, scannable items aren’t the only thing a brand needs. Every store should have a mobile site that shoppers can access while shopping. Unfortunately, most stores drop the ball. Steve Smith reports that a Briteskies survey of 75 online retailers in the small-to-medium specialty segment across multiple categories came out to only 17%, or only 13 of the 75, with mobile sites http://bit.ly/LL8cyv. Whether you’re a small, medium, or large store, you need a mobile site. Whether you’re online only, a physical store or both, you need a mobile site. Every brand, yes, stores are brands too, needs a mobile site. Your customers are on mobile sites, whether you have one or not, so it’s time to meet them where they’re at and keep them on your site. A final category where brands are missing the boat is digital coupons. E-marketer cites a Yahoo! and Ipsos November 2011 study that finds electronic circulars rival their print counterparts in penetration http://bit.ly/LL9Dgo. Your customers are online searching and their demands deserve to be met.
In this mobile era, you can’t afford to miss these opportunities. Your customers are mobile customers too. Brands need to be mobile brands just as much as they are physical brands. Anything less is to risk failure, and as Ed Harris said playing Gene Kranz in the movie ”Apollo 13,” “Failure is not an option.” A mobile shopping connection is one of the most valuable and mutually beneficial connections you can have with customers. I’d say that’s something worth fighting for.