Shoppers are becoming increasinglytech-savvy and retailers need to respond with applications, solutions and services that appeal to those consumers. To that end, merchants must embrace consumer use of smartphones and tablets, and incorporate the devices’ abilities into marketing strategies.
“Many people think smartphones are mainly used for surfing the Internet,” noted Bruce Slywka, SVP of Sales and Marketing for IdentityMine during a RetailNOW event session titled Yesterday’s Kiosk Is Now In The Palm Of Your Hand. “Actually, more folks per day are using them for applications…Applications are becoming very prevalent and this is an important point of reference when we talk about the solution for the modern kiosk.”
Nearly 2,000 retail technology executives gathered at the Disney Dolphin and Swan Resort for the RSPA’s 2011 RetailNOW event. Organization President and CEO Joseph Finizio welcomed attendees to the conference’s first venture outside of Las Vegas. The event featured more than 130 industry exhibitors.
During his presentation, Slywka highlighted the potential for retailers willing to implement tablets, mobile and digital signage to improve in-store efficiencies and engagement strategies in his IdentityMine is an interactive design, software development and user experience provider, specializing in the “Three Screen Solution,” which features tactics combining mobile, tablet and digital signage.
Slywka pointed tothe exponential growth of the smartphones, citing that the market has experienced a 50% year-over-year growth and that currently, 21% of all mobile users are smartphone subscribers. In turn, more shoppers are turning applications and daily deals to get the most out of their mobile shopping experience. He added that 25% of mobile subscribers use digital coupons — 40% of these respondents are ages 18 to 34. To that end, applications are a key part of a new, effective mobile kiosk model.
However, the overall scope of mobile shopping and finalized purchases holds even more optimism for retailers. With 90% of mobile shoppers between 18 and 54 years old, Slywka revealed that 65% compared price via mobile, 17% used their phone to make a purchase and 53% of browsing sessions via smartphone actually lead to a purchase, either in-store or online. Retailers including Home Depot and Nordstrom have employed an in-store mobile POS (mPOS) strategy to create a simplified buying process for the on-the-go consumer.
Tablet technology is valuable for both shoppers and store employees, front-of-store and in the warehouse. Nordstrom adopted the iPod Touch to allow shoppers to scan items and swipe credit cards on the store floor; and Home Depot linked itsmobile inventory program with a walkie-talkie system to facilitatecommunication between employees. Teamed with a tablet strategy, Slywka explained that retailers can drive momentum and overall purchase intent by arming sales staffs with tools that will create an engaging in-store experience.
“When you think about a fast-growing mobile device, tablets are now taking the place in the market,” Slywka said. “And tablets are actually an ideal solution in-store for sales associates. They are about the size of a notebook, they’re connected to the Internet, they have plenty of real estate to work with and of course, they have access to all back-end systems. So you’re going to see retailers continue to utilize the tablet in-stores.”
By syncing mPOS systems and in-store tablets to back-end data and content management systems, store personnel can easily share inventory information with shoppers and view pertinent consumer information such as browsing and buying history.
The final, key addition to an interactive in-store experience that will truly foster the customer relationship, according to Slywka, is digital signage. Retailers including Duane Reade and Wal-Mart have implemented digital signage to highlight store messages, specials and sales to up the ante on in-store engagement. Slywkanoted that 65% of consumers claimed their digital brand experience improved their opinion of a retailer, while 46% cited a higher recognition of a brand after viewing a moving image versus a stagnant image.
Slywka cited Wal-Mart as a key example of a retailer that experienced growth after implementing a series of LCD signs to enhance interactivity and spread product information. The retailer’s income in the health and beauty department increased by nearly 30%, while its seasonal push lifted nearly 20%.
Integrating smartphones, tablets and digital signage with CMS or back-end data creates a “Three Screen Solution,” which is designed to allow shoppers to download a store app, browse inventory and make a wish list, according to Slywka. Once in-store, consumers can check-in; store personnel then receive the shopper’s check-in information, browsing history and past purchase data in order to make product recommendations, provide information, and upsell and cross-sell items.
The connection between the three platforms allows retail personnel to keep track of online and in-store inventory, and efficiently keep track of metrics and analytics on browsing and sales to improve the customer experience, according to Slywka. Furthermore, the three components are designed to create a high-quality and memorable experience for shoppers that interact in-store to help drive browsers to check out.
“Today’s multi-technology allows retailers to reach and engage with customers on the higher level and ultimately provide a better shopping experience,” Slywka said. “Not just for the consumers, but for sales associates as well.”