Does Your Store Need a Mobile App? (Part 2): Know Your Objectives Before You Decide

Deciding whether or not your store needs a mobile app really depends on your objectives – and whether you want to engage customers on their mobile phones once they walk into your store.

Do you need to give customers directions to your store? Help them find a particular item, check prices, or see if an item is in stock? Let them know about store sales? If so, it may be that a mobile website – your store site, optimized for viewing on mobile devices – is all you really need for now.

Do you want to send customers special offers on their mobile phones? Take advantage of location-based marketing? Introduce customers to rewards programs and other loyalty program content? Then you’ll want to focus on building a strong, integrated marketing plan that addresses mobile as a key marketing channel.

But if (in addition to doing all of the above) your objective is to actively engage customers once they’re already in your store and/or make it easy for them to complete purchases using their phones, then it’s probably time to consider a mobile app.

Mobile Marketing vs. Mobile Shopping Solutions

Smart phones account for 50% of mobile phones sold in the U.S. today, and 80% of smart phone owners say they almost always have their phone with them while shopping, according to Compuware.

Given how quickly the mobile market is growing, it makes sense to have a strong mobile marketing strategy in place for engaging customers on their phones. But mobile shopping is about much more than just being able to extend a deal. It’s about enhancing in-store shopping visits and making them more enjoyable. And it’s about creating personalized customer touch points throughout the entire shopping experience.

By offering customers a way to learn more about the products they browse, for example, or giving them access to product reviews, you can stay with your customers while they browse your store. Or you might offer customers personalized recommendations based on past purchases, the option to share shopping lists with friends, and the convenience of checking out on their phones – all possible with app that’s also a mobile shopping solution.

The most successful mobile shopping apps for retail stores will be those that combine the best of mobile marketing and mobile shopping – and those that reinvent the in-store experience.

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