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Mobile is omnichannel retail's secret weapon

60% of us hold it while we sleep. 1 in 6 people take it in the shower. 54% would save it over their cat if a fire broke out in their home. I am, of course, talking about our obession with our smartphones.

Mobile devices are the technology we can’t live to live wihtout - and they have revolutionised not just how we communicate, but the very way in which we conduct our lives – and shopping is no exception. The biggest disruptor to the retail industry since the Internet, mobile technology has forever changed (and further complicated) the path to purchase. And it’s the one platform retailers need to get right, if they want to keep growing profits and delivering the experiences today’s omnichannel consumers demand.

Mobile is the ‘middle man’ of omnichannel retail; the meeting point between digital and physical, which can influence sales conversions and customer retention in many different ways.

Mobile’s influence on online retail

mCommerce is the fastest growing opportunity for retailers. 51% of ecommerce sales now happen through a mobile device, the latest IMRG statistics reveal. In spite of this many organisations are falling at the first hurdle by failing to ensure their websites for smartphones and tablets. This doesn’t just deter mobile visitors; it can actually prevent traffic from reaching it, as Google prioritises mobile-friendly platforms in its search.

In addition, not all retailers are supporting their website activity with a transactional retail application. While it’s not necessarily going to attract casual customers (who will veer towards desktop websites as they require less effort to access), mobile apps are a powerful way to nurture relationships with frequent customers.

Apps are a great way to mine shopper data, as every interaction can be mapped back to a device ID. This can then be used to personalize marketing communications, increasing shopper spend in a targeted, relevant manner.

Mobile’s influence on physical retail

Another key feature of the app which demonstrates mobile’s influence on physical retail is loyalty. As a digital loyalty specialist, we’re seeing clients who adopt a mobile-first attitude to incentive schemes experience an increase in uptake, greater interaction levels, and higher redemption rates.

There is little compulsion to use generic paper vouchers handed out post-purchase, or to dig out plastic points cards from the back of a wallet. Most people won’t leave the house without their phone, so using as a loyalty ‘card’ makes a lot of sense. Additionally, it becomes much easier for shoppers to collect and spend points from their online and offline activities in one place. True omnichannel loyalty.

What’s more, mobiles are influencing a consumers’ paths to purchase in the physical retail store. Smartphones have become shoppers’ go-to research tool, and this can potentially increase sales on two levels. Firstly, it is a reference point in the aisles, as shoppers compare prices, look up product information, consult customer reviews etc. There’s a great opportunity here for retailers to increase their authority over this activity by equipping store associates with mobile POS systems, to do the leg work on shoppers’ behalf.

As the one device consumers can’t do without, it’s the one area retailers really must get right.

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