Best Practices for In-Store Mobile Strategy in 2015

— February 17, 2015

Mobile strategy is erroneously reduced to, “What did I sell on the phone?” This limited view ignores the impact of this technology to drive sales at the local and store level.  A well-executed mobile strategy can unify channels, wrapped in a convenient package for your biggest brand fans. Brand loyalty and in-store action should not be ignored, especially since these elements impact the purchase decision process so heavily. In the apparel industry, which is often driven by brand and lifestyle appeal, the mobile device plays a pivotal role in sealing that customer connection and long-term brand loyalty.

Craft a mobile strategy
There are a surprising number of consumer-facing apparel brands that lack an apparent mobile strategy. Some think having a responsive website checks the “mobile strategy box” but it includes so much more than that. Mobile strategy refers to understanding where your customer is on her journey with your brand and how to best connect with her in that context. Is she loyal or transient? Is she standing in a store or sitting at home on her sofa? Is she social or does she wish to connect on her own terms? The one thing I can guarantee is she's staring at her mobile device. In fact, the average customer is looking at her smartphone's screen for more than about three hours per day (almost as much as television!).

Start simple – have a responsive mobile website. If your brand is consumer-facing, you need to allow consumers to gain access to your site on their mobile devices. Does lifestyle matter to your shoppers? Do they identify with your brand's lifestyle promise? Are they loyalists? If you answered "yes," you may wish to look into a mobile application to better provide a personalized experience to your most loyal fans. If not, you may look to partner with applications that are sticky with your demographic and take advantage of mobile ads.

Empower the consumer
Since the mobile device is always in the consumer's pocket or hand, use this as an opportunity to educate her about your product, no matter which channel she's using to purchase. A great example of this is the scan feature on The North Face’s mobile application, which works to scan any brand tag on its clothing. Whether in a reseller’s store or The North Face’s own direct retail channels, consumers can learn more about any of the company’s products; read reviews, learn about product features; and even watch videos on wear tips. Specialty apparel brands, selling products that have a technology component or need an explanation, can benefit greatly from this mobile strategy, even in stores.

Make the stores interactive
Merchandising in a physical retail location is already a challenge, and even more so if a brand doesn’t control the retail environment. However, using new technologies such as beacons can make retail environments interactive and personalized. Brands using displays shipped or embedded with beacons can communicate with fans using the mobile app who receive tailored messages when in proximity of the beacon. An example would be pushing a message that tells customers about a new collaboration and encourages them to learn more about your product design. Beacons don’t have to be just about pushing promotions; they can also activate content and personalized messaging based on purchase history.

Focus on the future
Increasingly, the phone isn’t the only mobile device found with consumers at all times. Wearables such as FitBits, iWatches and interactive jewelry are entering the consumer consciousness. Recognizing that its audience is taking fitness to a new level, Under Armor recently invested in acquiring three popular mobile applications as part of its strategy, pairing its popular apparel with the connected consumer lifestyle. This isn’t to say brands should go out and buy apps or wearable device companies, but they certainly can participate in co-marketing with them - especially those with a complimentary demographic all to their own.

As the customer journey takes a digital detour, apparel brands must remember that mobile strategy is essential to connecting with the modern shopper. What better way to celebrate and reward these loyal consumers than providing them with the heightened and personalized experience they all seek? A sound mobile strategy is the icing on the cake that can really catapult your brand into recognition audience is taking fitness to a new level, Under Armor recently invested in acquiring three popular mobile applications as part of its strategy, pairing its popular apparel with the connected consumer lifestyle. This isn’t to say brands should go out and buy apps or wearable device companies, but they certainly can participate in co-marketing with them - especially those with a complimentary demographic all to their own.

As the customer journey takes a digital detour, apparel brands must remember that mobile strategy is essential to connecting with the modern shopper. What better way to celebrate and reward these loyal consumers than providing them with the heightened and personalized experience they all seek? A sound mobile strategy is the icing on the cake that can really catapult your brand into recognition securing a long-term position in this exciting future of retail.

 

Maya Mikhailov is co-founder and executive vice president of GPShopper.

 

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