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Omnichannel Retail: How to enhance the customer experience instore with a mobile makeover

Seize Digital
Author: Miya Knights

In this sixth in a series of Eagle Eye blogs about our CEO, Tim Mason’s new book, Omnichannel Retail: How to Build Winning Stores in a Digital World, we look at how to get business buy-in for digital store augmentation.

Chapter 6, Mobile Makeover, follows on from the previous chapter, in which we argue that sales spaces need to be better equipped to offer a competitive and complementary customer experience compared to online.

Despite continued ecommerce growth, up to 90% of all sales are still completed (including collected) in a store – even if the sale begins online.* But very few can claim to be ‘digitally augmented’ as defined in Chapter 5.

We arrived at this strategic climax after exploring the digital imperative that all businesses face to establish data-driven customer connections. We learned the true value of customer connection from Tesco Clubcard.

Clubcard demonstrated the benefits of traditional, mass loyalty schemes. Its mechanics enabled Tesco to  know who its customers were, tie that identity back to what they buy and so, refine its offer accordingly.

His early loyalty learnings allow Tim to attest to the fact that loyalty is far from dead. But, with the Amazons and Alibabas quickly gaining ground on store-based competitors, loyalty has evolved beyond the functional.

Competing effectively with online

Those online-first operators are capitalising on being digitally enabled and data-driven. Meanwhile, it’s possible to digitally navigate to the nearest store. But it cannot compete effectively, as a digital ‘black hole’.

The ‘digitally augmented’ store is so important in levelling the playing field for bricks-and-mortar retailers. But many are struggling to modernise their legacy store estates, which is where the ‘mobile makeover’ comes in.

Chapter 5 describes how digital discoverability can ‘locate’ a store online. Exposing location or inventory capitalises on its immediate advantages so it can be found via “near me” Google search, for example.

But once inside, mobile needs to play a far larger role in the customer’s store journey (should the customer want it), as it’s the only way it can offer similar levels of choice, convenience and relevance available online.

     “At its most basic level, the digitally augmented store has to put mobile at the centre of any transformation or customer engagement project, to create and capitalize on digital connection.” (Mason, T., Knights, M. Omnichannel Retail, p101, Kogan Page.)

Tim argues for the concept of a ‘mobile makeover,’ as coined by ecommerce pioneer, Stephan Schambach. His book, Makeover: How mobile flipped the shopping cart,** was the inspiration for this mobile-first strategy.

Having served in various management roles while at Tesco (right through to deputy CEO), Tim knows a thing or two about ‘winning hearts and minds’ when it comes to getting buy-in on strategic business cases.

Ensuring the store is fit for purpose

Tim argues for a “mobile makeover” as a far less capital-intensive alternative to any other physical store refits. It’s also capable of delivering far greater return on investment than any new fixtures and fittings.

The aim of any mobile makeover of a store is to make it easy to connect to and access the same kinds of features and functionality that are available when shopping online. This can include extra price information.

But this access must be predicated on the availability of secure public Wi-Fi. This allows the store owner to capture presence and footfall information of even those anonymous customers visiting the store.

At a basic level, this allows the owner to understand how frequently, or not, individual customers may visit. If persuaded to identify themselves during a visit, it is then possible to tie this to an existing persona and history.

The store owner needs to incentivise customers to identify themselves with offers, and multiple digital touchpoints where the customer can use their mobile to interact with interactive signage or shelf-labels.

These touchpoints can be used to expose more product and service information, including provenance, and can extend merchandising capabilities by suggesting complementary items, with recommendations or reviews.

Create content that demonstrates relevancy

It’s then possible to serve content to known store customers based on their purchase history and preferences. Serving relevant content and offers increases the likelihood they’ll become loyal customers, instore or online.

By also adding useful services, it is possible to foster emotional loyalty that adds to or moves beyond the functional loyalty that established through points-based, transactional loyalty schemes used at checkout.

The likes of wayfinding and navigation systems, scan and pay or, in the case of hospitality operators, order ahead or pay-at-table, can all improve the store customer experience and make it as seamless as online.

      “Connecting instore digital interactivity to product information, hyper-local offers, immediate checkout and even mobile-equipped expert staff are all powerful ways to encourage customers into stores as part of a consistent and coherent, digitally enabled and data-driven omnichannel retail proposition.” (Mason, T., Knights, M. Omnichannel Retail, p109, Kogan Page.)

To find out more, check out Omnichannel Retail: How to Build Winning Stores in a Digital World by Tim Mason and Miya Knights, published by Kogan Page, and priced £19.99.

Make sure you don’t miss the rest of this series. Subscribe here to receive the latest blog, previewing a chapter of Tim’s book each week, and be entered into a prize draw to win one of 12 signed copies!

*90% of global retail sales are still completed in stores; this includes reservations or purchases made online but fulfilled from a physical retail location. See the latest US Census Bureau data as an example here.

**Schambach, S (2017) Makeover: How mobile flipped the shopping cart, NewStore, Boston, MA