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The Mobile Retail Transformation Catalysts: Personalization, Data, and Digitization

Identifying some of the primarily catalysts behind retail’s dramatic transformation and evolution over the last few years would not be complete without recognizing mobile’s starring role.

The proliferation of smartphones has enabled retailers to target potential customers much more effectively, serve them with personalized shopping experiences while on the go, and add a much-welcomed degree of speed to the entire browsing, purchasing, and shipping processes. At the heart of it, mobile’s prevalence in retail has the ability to drive truly meaningful customer experiences, thereby resulting in major wins for the consumer and the business.

Personalization: One way in which mobile has disrupted the retail industry lies in personalization. Brands can completely customize a mobile site or app user’s shopping experience based on his or her geographic location, demographic, and history of previous purchases. Tools such as push notifications can bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds by tracking a smartphone’s location and inviting the consumer to pop into a nearby brick-and-mortar store to check out an ongoing sale. Shopping cart add-on technology can use algorithms to suggest additional smaller purchases to a customer about to check out, based on previous purchases and other shoppers’ commonly bought items. The potential for personalization on mobile is nearly endless, and it’s all thanks to one incredibly important facet of digital marketing.

Data: The presence of data is paramount in all forms of marketing today—digital and physical. For instance, the ability for a retailer to monitor a loyal customer’s location in a shopping mall—and alert a store employee of that individual’s loyalty program membership and shopping preferences when he or she walks through the door—is invaluable. Another example showcasing how data informs superior shopping is the ability for retailers to retarget customers who have abandoned their shopping carts while browsing online or on mobile—perhaps even with an additional coupon to cinch the sale. By leveraging data to enhance personalization, brands can transform their brick-and-mortar experiences more effectively while simultaneously driving more revenue through physical and digital channels.

Digitization: The digitization of storefronts has also played a major role in retail’s recent transformation. Nowadays, consumers can expect to encounter in-store associates holding iPads—ready to help with inventory questions and sizing concerns—as well as touchscreen displays, interactive technology in fitting rooms, and the ability to receive rewards points just for walking into a store. The connected shopping experience is no longer a far-flung dream for marketers; it’s here, and it’s resulting in unforgettable, customizable, data-driven experiences.

Many of the difficulties that surround keeping up with the ongoing retail transformation stem from less-then-stellar mobile marketing and technology budgets, challenges finding a reputable vendor that can supply the right mobile platforms for a particular brand, and difficulty pinpointing the types of digitally-led services customers actually want. Once retailers understand their target audiences’ preferred shopping nuances, they can utilize data to provide more personalization throughout these experiences—a feat that can only be accomplished by digitizing brick-and-mortar stores and optimizing all digital channels for a seamless browsing and purchasing process.

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Alex Samuely, Contributor

Alex is a marketing and communications professional with extensive experience in analyzing digital and mobile marketing trends. She has also covered brand-oriented mobile strategies spanning the retail, travel, financial services, and food and beverage industries.

Topics: mobile retail

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