Loyalty cards – remember them?

Gosh, I used to slide all 16 of them in and out of my wallet hundreds of times every day just to look at them and think about the next great set of purchases I was going to make. It was almost like they were whispering to me – “Go on, Ross, you deserve it. I saw you looking at that Scalextric the other day, and, well it’s actually 20% off today, and there is a shop around the corner…you’d be mad not to!” Oh go on then, I do deserve it.

Believe it or not, that is not what happened; it is a total lie (and, I don’t deserve it).

However, that IS the kind of relationship I have with my smartphone. I do it all the time. Heck we all do! Browsing an app to look at the next thing I don’t need – but definitely want – is a great way to spend any journey or day in work.

When it comes to retail, the audience is there. We all have smartphones and we all want to spend our money. And if that’s the case, the benefits of being on that screen are almost unquantifiable. That’s why the mobile app is the new loyalty card – and more.

The challenge, then, is getting and staying on that screen, and thus being the brand that consumers turn to when they’re in the mood to start spending. Here’s a few ways to make that happen:

Cash in on the first 10 minutes

If a person walks into a badly organised and unhelpful shop, they’ll usually walk straight out, possibly never returning. This is even more the case when it comes to apps – 1 in 5 apps are used precisely once. The first time user experience (FTUE) needs to be optimized to the nth degree to ensure that the user understands why they downloaded the app and what it can do for them. It sounds obvious, but it is rarely done effectively. Personalize the experience for the user, and do this based on what acquisition source they are coming from if possible. A/B test the first key screens to make sure that you are rolling out the very best version of the app. Don’t send users running into your competitor’s open arms because of a poor initial experience.

Follow the customer around the shop

Every event and action that the user does in the app can be tracked. This isn’t just about purchase data, it’s about what they’ve looked at and how many times, what they’ve been on the edge of purchasing (so near, and yet so far), and which product categories they spend the most time in. This data can be used to segment users in real-time, and target them with personalised, relevant and timely campaigns to nurture a long-lasting and profitable relationship. Optimized mobile apps are about as close it gets (and probably more effective) than creeping around the shop behind the customer, taking notes of everything they look at, and eventually encouraging them to buy what they’ve looked at a few times.

Really get to know the customer – like, really

The more you know about each individual consumer, the more effective you will be at selling to them - we all know this. We can find out a wealth of information about users from multiple devices, via sites, different apps and in-store too. Making this data work together is super important and enables you to build relationships in a seamless fashion. Consumers don’t see you as a website, or an app, or a brick and mortar shop – they see you as a brand that they like to do business with. By having a connected multi-channel strategy, you can do things like inform a user with a push notification campaign (on mobile) when an item they have left in their online shopping cart is reduced in price.

Don’t let pesky competitors steal customers from under your nose

Mobile enables instant access to a consumer experience pretty much anywhere you are. Even when I am in-store, I will take out my phone to look up reviews of a product, or check for a price comparison. Make sure that when a consumer does this it is YOUR app that they check, and not a competitor’s. There are many ways to make this happen, like smart geo-fencing to trigger in-app campaigns as customers enter different areas of the store, or targeting individual users who are in the store with messages specific to them based on prior app or online behaviour. Apps don’t have to sell directly either; store companion apps can be just as valuable by providing in-store assistance to drive sales.

Seal the deal

Retail is a multi-channel industry, but mobile is increasingly at the core of it, and soon it will step up to the plate when it comes to selling. To do this we need to start adopting some of the techniques refined in the e-commerce space. Identify your engaged, but non-spending, users and drag them over the line for that all important first purchase with targeted campaigns. A/B test the buying process and see where it is that users give up. Take the friction out it – and take their cash!

We fully believe that employee of the month for the foreseeable future will be your mobile app if you take the appropriate measures. Now, what else can I buy?