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Why In-Store Wi-Fi, Mobile Checkout are Omnichannel's Next-Generation Stars

For some retailers, mobile apps have become passé. While maintaining a strong presence on mobile platforms typically used at-home or on-the-go is important for any marketer, an increasingly large focus is being placed on in-store experiences, and how smartphones can augment them with a slew of convenience-first features.

Brands wanting to entice younger consumers to wander into their brick-and-mortar locations can no longer rely solely on coupon clippings or new collection launches. Individuals’ mobile devices have become omnipresent appendages, and retailers must devise foot traffic-driving methods that offer benefits to the customer and his or her smartphone.

In-Store Wi-Fi: Nearly every shopper has had the moment of horror in which he or she realizes his or her smartphone is running out of data, and may not be able to power the next RetailMeNot coupon search or quick Facebook Messenger conversation. This easily-fixable problem has prompted several brands, including restaurant chain Subway, to implement the most customer-friendly solution: complimentary in-store Wi-Fi. In the case of Subway, consumers who walk into one of its restaurants can pull out their mobile devices and connect to the designated free Wi-Fi network. Its landing page will prompt them to sign in via text message, Facebook or email.

Once sign-in is complete, individuals will receive a mobile coupon from Subway, redeemable for a free sandwich. This gives them even more incentive to stay at the restaurant for an extended period of time, and tell their friends and family about the promotion. Perhaps most rewardingly, the brand enjoys a mobile win by gaining that customer’s personal data, allowing it to follow up with additional offers and news in the future – potentially transforming that person from Subway-agnostic to Subway super-fan.

Furthermore, retailers that enact this strategy with the proper in-store signage can inspire a plethora of non-target consumers to venture inside and potentially purchase some unexpectedly desirable merchandise.

In-store services: Nowadays, many retailers are evolving their business models to include an emphasis on styling and other in-store services, reflecting the need to offer add-on shopping experiences that fuel consumers to shop at their stores instead of Amazon. Sephora is now letting its app users schedule makeup application lessons and makeovers directly from their smartphones. Consumers can locate their nearby Sephora establishment and indicate whether they would like to book a custom makeover session – which requires a product purchase of $50 or more – or a complimentary fifteen-minute mini-makeover if they are a loyalty program member. Once the desired session has been selected, users can choose their preferred appointment day and time.

Retailers with significant mobile-savvy fan bases can perfect their omnichannel commerce efforts by enabling consumers to book styling or makeup application services on their smartphones. If an individual has a major event coming up, for instance, and does not have the necessary time frame to order an outfit online, he or she should have the ability to book an evening styling appointment at a favorite apparel store. Sephora’s example should also be followed by marketers with strong loyalty programs. Offering a free custom mini-makeover or similar service to rewards program members can be especially successful in convincing them to stop by a store and browse new products – even if they had not been planning to do so.

Mobile self-checkout: As busy consumers search for even more ways to maximize their time – especially while shopping – retailers must serve up additional conveniences that make in-store experiences slightly less hassling, particularly during peak times. IKEA is working on an answer to this by rolling out a new mobile app in France that enables in-store shoppers to scan desired products with their smartphone’s camera before placing them into the cart. Once all items have been picked up, the app will calculate the total and generate a unique QR code that consumers can scan at the checkout counter, instead of spending additional time scanning each product.

These types of solutions are designed to ameliorate consumers’ stress levels while simultaneously inviting them to visit brick-and-mortar stores with more frequency. Retailers must continuously update their omnichannel efforts in order to stay competitive in the constantly-evolving industry, a feat that requires leveraging mobile to augment – not replace – in-store experiences. 

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Kristin Schepici, Director, Marketing

Kristin is a senior marketing professional with a strong focus in multimedia and experience developing and executing integrated marketing communication plans. With a strong focus on inbound marketing, she oversees the development and implementation of online marketing strategies.

Topics: Omnichannel, In-Store Wi-Fi