How Retailers Should Adapt to the Hybrid Shopper

shoppers with mobile phone 150x150 How Retailers Should Adapt to the Hybrid ShopperLast year, I was shopping for new pedals for my bike. I was at the store, and at this point I was just pricing out different models. I came across a set of pedals that was not marked with a price. It was early in the afternoon during the workweek, so there were very few sales associates at the store. After looking around for assistance (to no avail), my friend and I pulled out our smartphones and used a barcode reader app we downloaded to see what the pedals were going to cost.

We were among the many people who are actively engaging through mobile while shopping in stores.

Mobile is transforming the way consumers shop, and retailers need to adapt to this new behavior pattern.

Consider what your customers are doing:

  • Checking in – Consumers are now telling friends where they are at all times through platforms such as Facebook Location and FourSquare.
  • Comparing prices – Amazon has a barcode scanner app that allows users to scan barcodes and compare prices from across the Internet immediately.
  • Sharing experiences – A good or bad experience is worth sharing, and many times consumers do share. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and multiple other social media allow customers to do just that from their phone.

It is more important than ever for retailers to acknowledge these types of mobile trends, as well as effectively equip themselves to cater to the shopping behaviors of today’s consumers. To do this, retailers must be willing to change. The in-store shopping experience is increasingly becoming a hybrid approach.

So the question is: how can retailers optimize their in-store experience for the three-inch screen?

  • Create displays that encourage mobile interactions – When creating a display, think about how the customer can interact with it. A few months ago, I was at a movie theater with some friends. The first thing we did, after purchasing our tickets, was to take pictures with cutouts of different actors from upcoming movies. Before the movie started, the pictures were already up on Facebook. Marketers need to have strategies in place that can capitalize on these natural behaviors.
  • Encourage your consumers to compare prices – When holding a sale, incentivize your consumers to scan products and compare them online when you know your promotional offer is the best price. A relatively simple and increasingly trendy approach to this is using mobile barcodes (i.e. QR codes).
  • Offer specials to those who check in – Through the FourSquare platform, retailers are able to setup specials. When someone checks in, they see a notification if there is a special running, discounts at the store, or applicable opportunities at other stores nearby. As an added bonus, you benefit from (essentially free) viral marketing as the customer promotes your business to his/her social networks.
  • Capitalize on the ubiquity of SMS (Text Messaging) - Despite astounding smartphone adoption, the reality is that most consumers still have devices that may limit their ability to interact with newer mobile marketing tactics (i.e. those requiring mobile apps). Imagine if a customer/prospect is interested in one of your promotions, but was deemed “disqualified” for engagement. On the other hand, virtually all active cell phones support SMS. In order to promote unbiased subscriber participation and avoid sacrificing over 150 million mobile prospects, consider incorporating SMS calls-to-action as an alternative method of interaction.

What are some ways you have seen retailers adapt to the hybrid shopper? What ways do you think they could enhance mobile/online engagement while the customer is in the store?

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Lane Joplin

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