Today’s mobile marketers have two primary objectives: acquire new customers and drive the current customer base back in-store.
“A challenge mobile has put upon retailers is the unwanted availability of information—particularly competitive pricing or offering,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director at Ping Mobile, Beverly Hills, CA.
“Marketers are learning that they need to create a proactive mobile engagement strategy in order to keep their shoppers using their phone to interact with them while in-store instead of performing a quick search to see if they can find the same product for cheaper,” she said.
Mobile presents key targeting opportunities for many retailers.
Take mobile advertising, for example. Targeting parameters such as the language in which a phone is set in, the precise location of a user, and specific usage data have helped retailers place ads more efficiently and acquire new customers, per Ms. Lowy.
Then there is SMS marketing, which has consistently proved to be one of the most powerful remarketing tools and is often used by marketers to drive consumers in-store.
The easiness of SMS marketing has also shown to be very valuable to retailers on a local level as they can customize their campaigns at the last minute based on the current activity in a store.
“One mobile tool that has not proved to be as powerful of a remarketing tool as many had anticipated is the mobile app,” Ms. Lowy said. “Mobile apps continue to face low retention rates, with over a quarter of them not being opened after the initial download.
“Mobile apps, however, still provide an important piece of the puzzle for many retailers, as many marketers are reporting seeing their shoppers switch from a mobile site to an app in middle of the purchase process,” Ms. Lowy said.
“This would suggest that consumers prefer to close a purchase via an app experience when possible.”
In the coming year, Ms. Lowy believes that brands will create a more deeply developed multichannel mobile strategy.
Indeed, marketers are looking at their mobile data, understanding what consumers want from in mobile, and learning what is most effective within it.
“Additionally, we are likely to see a more fully developed tablet focus as well as an effort to aggregate or streamline various retail purchases related processes,” Ms. Lowy said.
“This is already visible through the massive daily deal site movement along with Apple’s Passbook.”
Shoppers are increasingly untethered, interacting with retailer content live in the store, on their phones, on tablets or on desktops, per Usher Lieberman, director of corporate communications at The Find, San Francisco.
It is all about multichannel.
One channel is no longer enough. However, every channel has to be synchronized.
“Marketers need to find ways of connecting the experience a shopper had on their PC with what they’re seeing in the store and the details about the products they’re looking up on their phones while they’re standing feet from the cash register,” Mr. Lieberman said.
“In a sense, the top of the funnel is everywhere as is the point-of-sale, and if you’re the consumer there is no right way to shop any more as all of these devices and interaction points converge and can literally happen all at once,” he said.
According to the executive, fat fingers are a big problem for retailers.
Many retail sites are not designed to accommodate the touch screen in their checkout flow, which often leads consumers to delay a purchase or make the purchase elsewhere.
Much of this can be overcome via better design principals or the implementation of a streamlined checkout flow such as PayPal or Amazon Payments, per Mr. Lieberman.
“Another hurdle to overcome is screen synchronicity,” Mr. Lieberman said. “The challenge is providing consumers with a compelling reason to be logged into your experience on all their devices, so that when I get home from a day of shopping it’s easy for me to return quickly to the products that interest me.
“It’s all about the touch screen,” he said. “Between phones and tablets, we think that within a year most online shopping purchases will – at some point in their lifecycle – flow through a touch screen.
“Whether or not the purchase is consummated on the touch screen will increasingly be a function of how well tuned a retailer site is optimized for the touch screen. The message for retailers should be abundantly clear: fix your checkout experience to optimize for the touch screens most consumers are relying upon.”