By Daniel Bruce, Digital Marketing Executive at GCI.
The smartphone has truly revolutionised the way we shop; indeed over 2 billion mobile phone users made some form of mobile commerce transaction in 2017. Unfortunately for bricks-and-mortar stores, it has become common practice for people to walk into a shop, use their phone to compare prices…only to walk out empty-handed and return home to make a purchase online (and let’s face it, it’s usually on Amazon; the e-commerce giant boasts that 64% of U.S Households have an Amazon Prime Membership). I won’t ramble on about being a Millennial but it’s an important point that needs to be made; online shopping has always been available to me, and I’ve never really wanted to visit a store instead of shop online even though it’s probably more efficient. How many of your customers feel the same way?
Many retailers have been struggling to figure out how to stop their stores from becoming a showroom and return to their core purpose – to generate revenue again. Brands like Topman, Ralph Lauren, Argos, All Saints, GAME and Next already have my details and know my interests; all they need to do is provide me with a good reason to visit the store. And that’s where the silver lining appears. Customers carry their smartphones everywhere they go; in fact more than 90% of consumers use their smartphones whilst shopping in stores, providing brands with an opportunity to connect at all times. By taking advantage of location-based mobile app and Wi-Fi based engagement, retailers can engage with their shoppers in a way they were never able to before by creating incentives for them to walk out with shopping bags, rather than ideas of what to buy online!
You can also utilise your in-store Wi-Fi to not only provide visitors with a great service, but to gather their data and convert it into transactions. Market-leading technologies such as Aruba ClearPass can provide you with analytics on footfall, where your visitors go and how long they spend in certain parts of the store – a game changer for product placement. But once visitors are in your store or shopping centre, how do you capture their attention and create a world-class experience?
Aruba – a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company – partners with providers like GCI to deliver truly transformational services in the Retail space. Below are two examples of how Aruba transformed the stores of two leading US retailers into must-visit destinations:
Home Depot: 100,000 ft2 stores can be tough to navigate for staff and customers…but not anymore! Home Depot undertook a Wireless Network refresh of 2200 stores with Aruba, so staff and visitors can now find the product they require via the Home Depot smartphone app which is now accurate enough to take them to the right aisle and shelf, and even gets them eye-level with the product they’re after. Customer analytics are then fed back to the IT Team.
Nebraska Furniture Mart: Via Meridian – a Cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that is part of Aruba’s location services portfolio – Nebraska Furniture Mart developed a turn-by-turn app that allows visitors to find the products they want in the store via low-energy Bluetooth Aruba Beacons. As well as finding products you want, the app also has “Find a Friend” and “Find an Associate” features, meaning customers can always find the people they need. And with mobile Point of Sale (POS) applications Nebraska Furniture Mart can equip staff to process payments anywhere in the store, reducing the chances of a customer changing their mind.
So that’s the in-store experience covered, but how can you engage potential customers who haven’t visited for a while? Let’s use leading cosmetics company Sephora as an example. Via its app, users can virtually “try on” lipsticks, browse for items and save them to a “Beauty Bag” to try on in the store, or book an appointment in the store. As soon as you log in to the app, you get a request from Sephora for you to enable your location so they can bring you customised information on events, beauty classes and their latest special offers in your area.
If retailers put these practices into place and encouraged me to download their applications for a reward – such as 10% off next time I’m in the store – they’d get my attention immediately. Furthermore, by doing this they not only satisfy their existing in-store shoppers but they claw back another demographic from the hands of the internet, boosting revenue for their stores. The result? An unforgettable in-store shopping experience that keeps customers coming back for more, strengthening your point-of-purchase influence and improving your bottom line. Hello brick-and-mortar, goodbye showrooming.
Want to learn how you can use these technologies to reinvigorate your brick-and-mortar stores? Get in touch at email@example.com to arrange a FREE consultation or to find out more about our solutions.
Daniel Bruce is a Digital Marketing Executive at GCI.
A graduate of the GCI Higher Apprenticeship Scheme in April 2017, Daniel contributes to the Marketing efforts of the GCI Group, leading the marketing for social media, partner engagements and product launches. He also holds a Degree in Professional Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.