Mobile Experience: Harnessing the Power of Your Mobile Channel to Increase Traffic in Retail Stores

by Colin Shaw on August 13, 2014

The mobile experience, meaning the experience your customers have with you on their smartphones and tablets, is rising in popularity as more shoppers embrace the idea of shopping on the go. Once viewed as a competitor to retail, the mobile channel can have a direct positive impact on your retail experience.

Customers are mad for mobile technology. I posted some time ago about the Rise of Mobile Customers and How to Reach Them, and in that post there is an infographic that boldly states that by the end of last year there would be more mobile devices on earth than people. That’s a lot of mobile devices and connected to each of them is a potential mobile customer.

There are ways to use mobile technology to enhance their retail customer experience. When I say enhance, my regular readers know that what I really mean is that you are appealing to both their rational side (the physical experience) and their irrational side (or the emotion and subconscious part of the experience). All of these parts make up the customer experience. So you need to enhance all of these parts or you haven’t really improved your experience the way you thought you would.

Local SEO Is Key

I just read an interesting article on connectivity from the econsultancy.com, about ways to reach mobile customers: local SEO. Local SEO uses your proximity to direct mobile users who are looking for your service nearby with a local query.

Local SEO is rising in popularity and gaining more all the time. Over 40% of the queries tapped into the screens of smartphone users were local queries like, “Coffee Shops within walking distance” or “Kids Shoe Store in midtown.” Google’s numbers were slightly higher saying that one in every three queries is one of these local queries.

Having a clear and easy to understand local SEO page is going to be important to capture these customers. But it also is important to make sure that you provide all the relevant information about your business so that when the customers arrive, they are not disappointed. As we all know, disappointed is never an emotion that is going to drive value for your organization–unless that’s the word that describes your competition’s customer experience.

For instance, if you are a pizza place that happens to have one sandwich, a meatball sub, on the menu, you should not list yourself as a sandwich shop. Nor should you try to appear to be an Italian Bistro. Pizza shop should be prominent so as to set appropriate expectations for your customer so that when they arrive, you will be taking their order instead of watching them look back down at their phone scrolling to the next option.

But the implications of this type of mobile technology are bigger than just queries coming in. Apparently queries can also be a two-way street. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, you can also send queries out to customers that are nearby.

iBeacons is a application that allows you to contact customers who come to a zone that surrounds your retail outlet. Another application lets you send out messages using free WiFi and Bluetooth technology. This allows you to send out promos to people passing by who may not have otherwise noticed you.

Big Retailers Like This Concept

Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the US, routinely uses this technology to interact with customers. One of the things they did was let shoppers preview their Black Friday deals on the mobile site, which I think is a good use of the technology. Another goal of this mobile application is designed to help shoppers find the stores and shop there.

Of course, that’s a good thing if the mobile application is helping because Wal-Mart’s in store experience is about as bad as they come.

But as BusinessInsider.com pointed out, you don’t want to try to recreate your entire online experience in a mobile format. It is important that when you are creating your mobile experience that you embrace these types of activities and not simply try to make a scaled down version of your desktop experience.

I for one am not looking for the same features on my mobile as I am on my desktop. Most of all, I hate when I am on a mobile site and get a bandwidth hogging video that stops and starts on the spotty network coverage I have or the overcrowded free WiFi I am on, making me far too aware of the color pattern of the spinning wheel of death.

When this happens I get frustrated and click away. For a mobile customer, the click away is the kiss of death and the resulting frustration they feel is associated with your brand, whether you are an independent coffee shop or the biggest retailer in the world.

So keep in mind the details when you design your mobile experience so that you don’t end up driving away potential business with a less than apt experience. Mobile shoppers and the experience they want are likely to keep evolving, just like the technology they use to access it. Clever use of this channel can enhance your retail experience if you design it properly. You simply have to keep in mind the wants and needs of those customers in your design and how you use it, so that you can create a channel that enhances what they love about you in the first place: your customer experience.

Mobile Experience: Harnessing the Power of Your Mobile Channel to Increase Traffic in Retail Stores by colin shaw

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world.  He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.

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Colin ShawMobile Experience: Harnessing the Power of Your Mobile Channel to Increase Traffic in Retail Stores