Mobile has categorically transformed the retail sector as we know it, paving the way for higher numbers of impulse purchases, on-the-go product browsing sessions, and shopping list creation abilities. While some retailers are still stuck in the app versus mobile site debate, there is one universal feature that all branded offerings should employ: the ability to sort inventory based on individual store.
If a consumer is in immediate need of a cocktail dress for the following night’s work function, being able to check if a desired dress is in stock at her local mall and available in her preferred size, style, and color is a game-changer. That type of mobile-enabled feature could catapult her browsing session into a full-fledged decision to visit that specific store and raid its available inventory.
Additionally, consumers are increasingly turning to hyper-local inventory features on mobile during peak shopping times – such as the holiday season – to ensure they do not waste a store visit if the items in question are not available. Another great benefit? Shoppers can use their smartphones to reserve in-stock items and try them on when they arrive in-store, enabling them to bypass the apparel-searching process. Brands including Walgreens, Kmart, and Sears have all implemented inventory-centric tools into their apps, smoothing the path for other retailers to soon follow.
In-stock items: Walgreens, Kmart, and Sears make up one trifecta of brands that has integrated store-specific inventory searching options onto mobile. In Walgreens’ instance, instead of forcing a customer to call his or her local store and check the availability of a product, that shopper can pull up the pharmacy marketer’s app and check if that desired item is in-stock before visiting a store. This not only saves invaluable time, but also creates positive brand sentiment, since consumers will undoubtedly appreciate the added convenience.
Meanwhile, Kmart and Sears have taken mobile inventory scanning to the next level. Both retailers allow customers to leverage their smartphones as mobile shopping companions when browsing in-store. If consumers come across a dress they like, for example, but cannot find the item in the right size or color, they can scan the dress’s bar code with the Kmart or Sears app to check its online availability. Therefore, even if shoppers make the journey to their local store but are unable to buy the sought-after product in-person, they can still order it from the online inventory and have it shipped to their homes for free.
Combating holiday stress: Implementing mobile inventory checking features into your app is also an optimal way of streamlining shopping experiences around peak times, such as the pre-holiday rush. When quantities are limited during major sales days, including Black Friday, offering the ability to check local stores’ available inventory on mobile is a smart way of circumventing stress for busy in-store associates as well as customers. Having mobile apps take the brunt of shoppers’ questions will ensure that crowded stores have a better opportunity to effectively serve other inquiring individuals.
Reserving on mobile: Retailers looking to cinch sales with mobile inventory checking tools can take advantage of one important service: reserve on mobile, try on in-store. While enabling mobile site visitors or app users to check their local stores’ inventories is paramount, brands should go one step further by letting shoppers place available items on hold. This way, customers can feel comfortable browsing on their smartphones as they begin their path to purchase. Once they have identified that a nice sweater or must-have pair of jeans is in stock at the respective retailer’s local store, they can request to have that product reserved and later receive an email or text message confirmation. Then, they may come in to try it on at a time that is most convenient for them, placing individuals firmly in control of their own shopping experiences.
Retailers have an unmatched opportunity to boost sales even higher by accurately following consumers’ journeys to purchase on digital platforms, a move that generally begins with browsing on mobile. By including inventory scanning or checking options on mobile sites and within apps, brands can build a sturdy bridge between the physical and digital worlds – one of the most important feats to master.
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