Retailers doing business in the mobile age desperately need a roadmap. Roadmaps deliver a bird's eye view that provides more perspective than just streets and towns. They reveal the landscape's obstacles and alternatives, offering a much clearer, wider vision of the journey ahead.
However, a static roadmap is of limited use when the ground keeps shifting beneath everyone's feet. So, it might be more advantageous to construct a roadmap at least partially in the context of other people's travels. In other words, observe how retailers have already embraced retail technologies, and draw some conclusions.
One group to watch is the obvious choice – direct competitors who seek to attract the same customers and sell the same types of products. Another opportunity comes from watching what is happening with retailers in other, non-competing markets. Every company is selling something, whether it is a product or a service, and although price points and target groups may differ, there will be some plain truths and consistencies that become landmarks to apply to your own mobile retail roadmap.
An example of a non-competing market is automotive retail. Many parallels can be drawn between cars and fashion. Their approach to mobile commerce might help inspire the confidence and vision required for change.
Car dealerships are retail operations, and they specialize in big-ticket items. Very few people walk into a dealership and pay for their wheels with cash or a credit card. To win a customer's six or eight-year commitment to purchase a vehicle, it is imperative that retailers get the customers to see themselves owning the product while they are still making the decision.
In earlier decades, customers had little choice but to rely on the charm, expertise, and honesty of the salesperson. Glossy brochures and an opportunity to kick the tires and sit behind the wheel was as far as a customer could go. Some might invest the time to visit competing dealerships, but few could afford that. But now the power relationship has changed. Automotive retailers are starting to accept the fact that their customers have access to all types of industry information including recommended prices, owner reviews, and the deals offered by competing dealerships or brands. They have this all on their mobile device.
As an example, some dealerships are now using beacon technology to draw the customer closer to the purchase commitment. These devices, placed at strategic points around a vehicle in the showroom, enhance the exploration process. One beacon, for example, activates a video on the customer's phone that highlights one particular feature, like an LED lighting upgrade for the front grille, or safety-related videos about car seats, for young parents with infant children. These are highly individualized and targeted approaches that need not be broadcast to an entire customer base, but are useful to an audience of one or two.
Beacons and apps allow dealerships to learn more about each customer, including their needs, priorities, and lifestyle. Each piece of data that the beacon receives builds a deeper connection with the customer, sending targeted information to them while capturing vital data about them.
Most significantly, smartphones play a significant role, and many manufacturers have wisely made their vehicles smartphone compatible, through Bluetooth. This, too, can be a major selling point. Most customers consider their phone to be their most valuable possession. A car enhances this value statement by becoming in part, a rolling extension of the device, ready to incorporate telephony, hands-free texting, GPS mapping, and entertainment.
These two concepts – the use of beacons as personalized sales enhancement opportunities, and more significantly, the redefinition of the primary product (the car) as an extension of the smartphone, have changed the automotive retail landscape dramatically. The same changes are happening in the world of fashion and apparel, and it is now up to the astute retailers to draw or re-draw their roadmap accordingly.
Download our previously recorded webinar Mobile Roadmap for Retailers: How to Prepare for 2016 & Beyond and learn how to:
- Meet customer demands with a mobile-first approach
- Implement new internal processes to support the adoption of mobile technology
- Manage employees to maximize the use of mobile technology
You will walk-away with the tools and knowledge to begin your digital roadmap and monitor for the next three months, six months and 12 months.
Now that you have your Roadmap, be sure to follow the Mobile Mandate conversation on Twitter with us by using #mobilemandate.