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9 ways mobile and social tech improves the retail shopping experience

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | July 10, 2015
Retail and ecommerce experts share their tips on how stores can enhance the in-store shopping experience with mobile and social media technology.

4. Create a branded retail mobile app that can be used in store to provide shoppers better service. "When a shopper enters a physical store, encourage them to launch a branded app to see available loyalty credits, view products they tagged as favorites and get suggestions on products based on their profile and past purchases," suggests Tom Redd, global vice president, strategic communications, SAP. "This connects shoppers with products matched to their preferences, and helps them find new products to complement ones they already own. This is highly effective in fashion, but also tools, electronics and housewares," he says. "After purchase, shoppers can use the app to post purchases to social sites for extended marketing reach."

"Retail mobile apps allow customers to opt-in to sharing personal information in exchange for receiving more knowledgeable customer service," says Alison Clark, product manager, RhoMobile, an enterprise app development platform. For example, "Neiman Marcus is finding success with its NM app, [which provides] store associates with information like a customer's shopping history, product preferences, location and Facebook profile image," she notes. "Associates can then locate and greet customers in store, and provide smartly tailored offers and product recommendations."

5. Offer mobile coupons to customers while they are shopping. "Shoppers [often] forget they have mobile coupons while they are in a store aisle," says Liz Crawford, senior vice president, Insights & Strategy, and head of ShopLab, a division of Match Marketing Group. However, apps like "Target's cartwheel have successfully overcome this issue." Target shoppers unaware of sales or promotions "can grab a discount on the spot by scanning a code on the endcap at Target stores [with cartwheel]," she explains. Then "the shopper's cartwheel account code is shown, via smartphone, at checkout."

Another popular in-store rewards and deals app is shopkick, whose retail partners include Macy's, Target, Best Buy, JCPenney, Kraft, Unilever, P&G and many others.

Retailers can also text coupons to customers while they are in store.

"It is a seamless experience as consumers are used to communicating via SMS," says Adam Meshekow, executive vice president, Product Strategy & National Sales, SITO Mobile. "If a shopper was shopping in a grocery store and they saw they could get $5 off if they buy 4 or more Unilever products, it can entice a larger basket size and give value to the consumer."

6. Give in-store discounts for social media promotion. "One way to integrate your social strategy into shopping is to give customers an in-store incentive for interacting with your brand digitally," says Evan James, head of North American marketing at social media analytics company Socialbakers. For example, "offer in-store customers a discount on a product if they take a desired action on Facebook or send a tweet with a certain hashtag. That way, you're using social to increase the word of mouth around your product to other potential customers while also boosting your in-store sales at the same time."


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