5 mobile trends changing the retail industry
The digital era has not been kind to the retail industry, especially with digital giants taking a large share of the winnings. In a competitive environment, retailers are fighting for every customer and every dollar.
As mobile grows increasingly important to shoppers, retailers are adopting a number of mobile trends to improve the customer experience, retail management and operations.
Here’s a look at five mobile trends and how they’re helping retailers get ahead:
1. Mobile apps
Though mobile applications aren’t new to mobile strategies, their importance continues to rise in the retail sector. In a UPS report on online shopping, 64 percent of shoppers indicate they’ve used a retailer’s app.
However, just having a mobile app for your brand isn’t enough. Retailers still need to work on how to make their apps do more to convert traffic to sales. Despite smartphones making up 53 percent of all online traffic, mobile still only accounts for 29 percent of all sales, according to Business Insider. Mobile checkout and in-app browsing are two areas that still have room for improvement.
2. Loyalty programs
Until recently, loyalty programs have mostly remained outside of the mobile experience. However, smart brands recognize mobile provides an opportunity to improve loyalty and are beginning to incorporate mobile solutions into their loyalty programs. As part of this transition to mobile, many loyalty programs will focus on more than just driving transactions to build engagement and advocacy with customers.
3. Mobile convenience
Allowing mobile point-of-sale (POS) and payments from mobile devices is a win for both customers and retailers. Mobile POS doesn’t just reduce checkout lines for customers — it also lets sales associates provide pricing and product information, recommend add-on purchases and order out-of-stock items and ship them directly to customers’ homes. These types of mobile POS systems not only make it easier for associates to be effective at their jobs, but they also provide added convenience for customers, which can go a long way toward improving the customer experience.
4. Inventory management
Retailers have also found they can improve productivity and make retail management simpler by integrating mobile devices into their back-end operations. For example, mobile devices with built-in scanners and inventory apps can connect online and in-store inventory systems to create a seamless experience for customers across channels. They can also provide associates with real-time knowledge of inventory levels and locations, making it easier and faster to help customers get what they need.
5. Immersive experiences
Retailers are adding immersive experiences to their marketing arsenals. For example, home improvement stores can use mobile devices equipped with virtual reality headsets to give customers better, more realistic visions of what their remodeled homes might look like. Mobile devices and apps can use artificial intelligence to learn customer preferences and offer more personalized recommendations in the future.
Though mobile isn’t the only channel retailers need to think about, it’s a growing one that deserves significant consideration as part of an overall business strategy. Customers rarely have their smartphones more than an arm’s reach away, and that means retailers need to be there to drive purchases and build loyalty.