9 ways mobile and social tech improves the retail shopping experience

Retail and ecommerce experts share their tips on how stores can enhance the in-store shopping experience with mobile and social media technology.

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Retailers can also text coupons to customers while they are in store.

“It is a seamless experience as consumers are used to communicating via SMS,” says Adam Meshekow, executive vice president, Product Strategy & National Sales, SITO Mobile. “If a shopper was shopping in a grocery store and they saw they could get $5 off if they buy 4 or more Unilever products, it can entice a larger basket size and give value to the consumer.”

6. Give in-store discounts for social media promotion. “One way to integrate your social strategy into shopping is to give customers an in-store incentive for interacting with your brand digitally,” says Evan James, head of North American marketing at social media analytics company Socialbakers. For example, “offer in-store customers a discount on a product if they take a desired action on Facebook or send a tweet with a certain hashtag. That way, you’re using social to increase the word of mouth around your product to other potential customers while also boosting your in-store sales at the same time.”

“Offer a small discount to anyone who uses the check in function on Facebook,” suggests Graeme Watt, online strategy manager, The Zen Agency. “The check-in will be visible to the friends of the person who is checking in, giving your business additional exposure for relatively little cost.”

“We ask our customers to check in on Facebook with their purchase for a free sample,” says Krista Dolash, owner, Root, a maker of natural and organic beauty products. “It has created a local buzz about our business and converted so many of our customers to purchase full sizes of the samples we've given them. It's a double win!”

7. Use apps to make in-store shopping more fun. “Add a layer of excitement [to in-store shopping] by providing an experience, like a scavenger hunt, games and contests,” suggests Alex Muller, CEO, GPShopper, an integrated mobile platform for retailers and brands.

Similarly, allow “customers [to] earn points, unlock rewards and share scanned items over social media as they shop,” says Samuel Mueller, CEO, Scandit, which provides mobile barcode scanning solutions for smartphones, tablets and wearable devices. Customers will enjoy the in-store shopping experience more “while retailers [will] benefit from increased brand loyalty and enhanced community engagement.”

“To make shopping easier and more entertaining for families with small children, British shoe retailer Clarks recently rolled out an interactive, iPad-based system for measuring children's shoe sizes,” says Tom Karren, cofounder & CEO, Moki, which provides device management, security and analytics. The app “creates an engaging heat sensor image of the child's foot, making the process of trying on new shoes more appealing to children and easier for parents.”

8. Use mobile technology to make trying on clothes easier. “Arm your store associates with tablets and offer an Assist Me feature in your app,” suggests Muller. “This allows shoppers in the dressing room to summon help from your in-store staff when they’d like to try an alternate color or size.”

“If you make a customer put their clothes back on to go out and find a different size/color, and then have to wait in line again for an available room, or if you make them awkwardly yell to a sales assistant that they need help, you are decreasing the likelihood of a sale,” adds Van Noy. However, “if retailers implemented Smart Dressing Rooms, [where] customers could request products from a sales associate from a tablet,” you’re more likely to keep the customer engaged and make the sale.

9. Give shoppers a mobile checkout option. “Many retailers are developing apps that allow shoppers to browse, scan and buy products on their phone, there[by] skipping the always dreaded long checkout lines,” says Laura Swanson, senior consultant at FitForCommerce, an omnichannel consulting firm that helps retailers define and execute growth strategies and select technologies. “This is especially popular in grocery stores where the convenience of popping into the store for a few grocery items is typically hindered by a long line.”

“By empowering customers to scan items as they shop and effortlessly check out, retailers ensure customers experience shorter lines and abandon fewer items,” says Mueller. “Retailers are also able to reduce the number of traditional checkout stations required, reducing operational costs. With fewer traditional checkout stations, retailers can reserve valuable front-of-store real estate for product showcases.”

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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