With the latest data from IBM showing that over half of all the online retail traffic this season is coming from mobile devices, 2014 is set to be the most mobile Christmas yet. As more shoppers than ever before take to their smartphones to do their Christmas shopping this year, it’s never been more important for retailers to offer a truly seamless multi-channel experience across online, mobile and the high street.
But, while mobile sales are becoming increasingly important, the rise of mobile technology offers much more than just a convenient way for customers to buy products on the move. It also offers a way for retailers to build deeper relationships with today’s tech-savvy shoppers. Smart retailers are exploring the potential for mobile technology to fundamentally change the way they interact with customers, whether they’re online or on the high street.
So how can retailers use mobile technology to improve their relationships with customers?
Personalise the shopping experience
Mobile enables retailers to create bespoke offers to help draw customers into their stores. These offers can be tailored by location or even by purchase history if the customer has previously shopped there either online or via mobile. Retailers should embrace this opportunity to create unique shopping experiences as research shows that customers are more likely to return to a store if they know that’s where they’ll find the best deals for their favourite products. Whether it’s a ‘limited time only’ discount offered as a customer travels home from work, or a text to simply say that an item is back in stock, targeted mobile marketing helps to build relationships by enabling retailers to anticipate their customers’ needs.
Offer instantaneous, mobile-ready customer service
Many retailers don’t realise that as 24-hour shopping via mobile becomes ever more popular, high quality customer service also becomes increasingly important. Too many businesses still fail to engage with their customers in ways that the customer is actually going to use and find convenient. Whether shopping in-store or via mobile, customer service is vital to the overall shopping experience and it’s crucial that retailers offer a consistent customer experience across all channels.
Transform customers’ in-store experiences
Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, mobile has the potential to genuinely transform the in-store experience for customers. At O2, for example, we’re working with Qudini, an innovative London-based start-up from Telefonica’s Wayra accelerator, to create a simple but effective solution to everyone’s least favourite pastime: queuing. Rather than having to wait for an O2 sales advisor to become available during busy times, Qudini puts customers into a virtual queue via their mobile phone and keeps them updated on their queue position via text. This allows customers to grab a coffee from a nearby café or continue their shopping elsewhere, returning only once they know that an advisor has become available. By creating simple but effective ways to make customers’ lives easier, mobile can greatly improve the overall in-store customer service experience.
With smartphone usage set to continue to soar, every retailer should ask how they’re making the most of mobile. Whether it’s helping busy high street shoppers make the most of their time in-store, answering questions as a customer browses your website during their daily commute, or offering deals that customers consistently feel are relevant to them, it is those retailers who embrace mobile to cater for customers’ online and offline needs that will ultimately win out.
Bridget Lea, General Manager, O2 Stores