How Mobile Data Can Change Your Retail Strategy

Google’s Our Mobile Planet report showed mobile shoppers spend 25 percent more on average than traditional shoppers. Retailers need to embrace this new era, and embrace the fact that 80 percent of shoppers carry around an Internet-ready device at all times. Furthermore, 78 percent of shoppers use their smartphone while in a store. A mobile website or app is a great start, but to capitalize on mobile shoppers, you must discover who they are and what they’re doing.

Scan and Run

It’s been called showrooming—a smartphone user scans the barcode of an item to see if they can get the item cheaper on Amazon. A brick and mortar store can’t be surprised by a consumer who wants to save money and time if there’s a long checkout. These shoppers are not a lost cause though. A comScore report found the average amount of time to receive online goods is 7.2 days. And, 78 percent of those polled say they choose the least expensive shipping option available, according to Internet Retailer. In our impulsive world, consumers still prefer to pay less and wait longer. Combat this trend by benefiting from smartphone usage yourself. Offer discounts through email or app notifications. Expect consumers to price check and don’t set premium prices on goods that are widely distributed especially if they retain value over time. If you’re able to offer exclusive products not sold online, make it happen.

Checkout Overhaul

A Yankee Group survey last year found 32 percent of companies with 500 or more employees are already using mobile POS and 29 percent plan to convert in the next 12 months. Retailers need to plan now as the checkout process is transforming. First, focus on customer service with your checkout process. A bad experience may be enough for a customer to switch to online shopping for good. Conduct surveys to find out what your customers desire and apply it to the checkout process. On the technology end, research firm IHL Group found mobile POS sales reached $2 billion in 2013. Integrated with several of the new breed of POS systems, ShoppinPal allows customers to browse a your store’s items, order ahead to have items ready for pick-up, and redeem rewards and self-pay on their phones so you keep their business. Take advantage of mobile POS and the value-driving mobile shopping solutions that work hand in hand with these point-of-sale systems.

Big Data, Big Strategy

Online retailers got a jump on big data by collecting information from ISP addresses. Now, brick and mortars can use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology to obtain valuable consumer information. Retailers can find what areas of a store a customer visits, how long they stay and their reaction to digital offers. This is all done without compromising the users security i.e gathering phone numbers and contacts. This data can be used to form a strategy that gives the customer a personalized and one of the kind experience. If one area of a store gets heavy traffic but low volume of purchases, decipher whether the issue is pricing or display. Analyze purchase history by integrating POS data into Quickbooks. This allows customers to be treated like VIPs when they are offered relevant deals and suggestions. Return customers should be given the most attention, these are the dollars that stores can keep away from their online competitors.

If you offer customers a personalized experience whether it be on though mobile or face-to-face, they are likely to come back for more.

Retail Mobile Technology Trends in 2014

After a rapid year of change in 2013 in the retail and technology arena, what can we expect in 2014?

2014 will be the year where small businesses will have to level up and fight the goliaths that are the big box and online retailers. Online vs. Offline will see a higher level of competition, as the stakes will be greater. In addition there are changes on the marketing front that small business owners need to be aware of. Read on to find out what we’ve learned and what’s in store for the New Year.

1. Merchants will focus on delivering the best user experience

2014 will see consumers move to retailers who provide a smooth and pleasant experience for their customers. Mobile apps of particular companies continue to add features that create more personalization. For example, Domino’s released an app that allows customers to save their favorite food items and coupons and in addition track pizza delivery. This has saved me more than once when I was too lazy to go to the trouble of figuring out what toppings I wanted or deciding on the thickness of my crust. I simply chose the pizza I had last time. Done.

2. The mobile wallet will demand innovation and value to grow

In 2013, the smartphone user base grew to over 50% of the mobile handset market in line with previous predictions. But mobile wallet systems have failed to take off. Why? The number of players in the field and the rapidly evolving technology is making consumers as well as retailers hesitant to invest time and money into any particular system.

But we’re putting our money on the mobile payment tools that continue to innovate and provide value above and beyond the payment. Take for instance PayPal, who implemented an order ahead feature (working with eat24, an online platform for food delivery from your favorite restaurant) that decreases wait time for customers. It’s all about value creation and making the user experience a streamlined, hassle-free and fun experience. And on a not-so-side note, I actually used this feature recently while out with friends, and must say it is pretty nifty.

3. Mobile commerce will see growth in 2014

As retailers come face to face with quick shipping and competitive pricing from online stores, it will become super important to face these challenges. It will be a decisive year for small retailers.

Ever checked product reviews on your smartphone while deciding to purchase something in store? You’re not alone. In a recent survey, 66 percent of respondents reported using their smart phones in stores to compare prices, search for deals, check with family and friends about their choices, and read product details and reviews.

Some have reported making purchases from cheaper online merchants right there in the store. Yes, it kind of leaves a bitter taste when a customer walks in, checks out the product, price shops and walks out. That’s why it’s time to step it up.

In 2014, retailers will have to battle this by bringing out their own improvements and invest in mobile apps that wow customers, create loyalty and allow leveraging technology to increase sales. One example of leveraging technology is knowing what product your customer checked out but didn’t buy while in the store, and enticing them to complete the purchase with a deal emailed to them or pushed to the app. This is just one of several features that ShoppinPal provides.

4. Data driven marketing will be a key strategy for local businesses

A study that was just released by the Direct Marketing Association found that data driven marketing was the way for local businesses to compete effectively. Their findings were that small businesses and innovation were the biggest winners in the data driven marketing economy. DDMI Executive Director Rachel Nyswander Thomas stated, “Data also gives small businesses a leg up in matching of products to customers. Data-intensive market insights are now more accessible to mid- and smaller-size enterprises than ever before” With this new information companies are quickly getting on board with local marketing campaigns and small business may finally get the edge on their larger competitors in 2014.

How to Profit From Mobile Commerce in 2014

Don’t let the ball drop on your profits in 2014. The new year marks the beginning of a rapid upward trend for mobile commerce. A recent study by Juniper Research estimates that the value of mobile commerce transactions conducted via mobile handsets and tablets will exceed $3.2 trillion by 2017, up from $1.5 trillion in 2013. For small to medium-sized businesses lacking big box store-front presence, mobile commerce helps put otherwise “niche” shops at the forefront of the local marketplace. With mobile usage trends sky rocketing like never before, it’s increasingly important that business owners not only have a mobile presence, but provide users with the ability to make purchasing decisions on the fly. Make sure your business is ready to profit from mobile shopping trends with these easy steps:

Optimize Your Website for Mobile

A website that’s easy to view on your computer is important, but how does it look on your cell phone or tablet? A study by the Pew Research Center shows that in 2013, 61 percent of adults use their smartphones to browse the web. Of those users, 21 percent only use their mobile devices for web browsing, rather than using a traditional device like a desktop or laptop. If your mobile site looks like a condensed version of your desktop site, you will lose your audience fast. Companies like DudaMobile can quickly create an easy-to-use mobile site from your desktop version for free. No more excuses to not be up to speed with the times! With a mobile version of your site, you can get back to running your business.

Make Purchasing a No-Brainer

Whether your customers are purchasing in-store or online, a speedy check out is a must. Having the right mobile payment processing tool will make or break your profits. Intuit provides mobile credit card processing for swiping cards from your tablet or smart phone just about anywhere. Receipts can be conveniently e-mailed and your transactions can be easily accounted for with Quickbooks integration. For mobile shoppers, adding the e-commerce payment processing option allows your customers to quickly and securely make purchases online.

Do You Have an App for That?

Apps help make the mobile browsing experience easier, faster and more direct. If you really want to stay ahead of the game, provide an app for your business that creates an enhanced shopping experience, making your mobile app the go-to place to shop. You don’t need to be an IT wiz to create an app. Check out options like ShoppinPal that provide an engaging mobile shopping experience for your shoppers. Integrated with leading point-of-sale systems like LightSpeed, Vend and Quickbooks, ShoppinPal allows shoppers to discover your store, scan barcodes in your store, read product information, see recommended items, and pay by phone. This solution also provides an analytics and marketing tool to increase loyalty with mobile offers and in-store “check-in” specials that can help drive foot traffic.

Keep an Eye on the Trends

Technology never takes a break. A Juniper research study estimates that 250 million debit or credit cards will be used for contactless payment in 2014. What does this mean for mobile? Even though the contactless payment trend hasn’t taken off in the US yet, it has become a hot item in the UK, sparking creation of mobile contactless payments like Quick Tap (only available in the UK). Quick Tap allows customers to scan their phones in place of a credit or debit card, creating a switch from paying with plastic to paying with mobile.

How Stores using Vend POS Boost Retail Sales with Mobile Commerce

It’s no secret that the reason ShoppinPal’s mobile commerce solution offers such a rich mobile shopping experience for a store’s shoppers… is the blood, sweat and tears we put into integrating our software with retail POS systems. Although it’s simple and speedy for a retail store to get ShoppinPal up and running, our initial behind-the-scenes work of integrating with a POS system is no easy task. So, we carefully select the POS systems we work with. One of those integrations is with Vend POS. Vend is a cloud-based POS and inventory management system that’s won over retailers all across New Zealand, Australia and the US with its ease of set-up, flexible customizations, and great customer support. The Vend team has been excellent to work with, and we’re incredibly excited to have aboard our retailer customers that use Vend in their stores.

With ShoppinPal’s integration with Vend, retailer’s using Vend POS can instantly have a mobile-optimized storefront (even if the retailer doesn’t have an existing e-commerce store) that allows for quick and easy product browsing and mobile payments designed specifically to sell more through social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest and location-based apps like Yelp and Google Maps.

Retail stores approach ShoppinPal to solve various pain points: foot traffic, basket size, deals & rewards, mobile payments. Although the retailers may initially fall in love with one feature, what they find is that ShoppinPal is a robust mobile commerce platform for retail stores that will make their shoppers love them. Here are the ways retailers use ShoppinPal to boost retail sales:

Give Shoppers What They Want

We can’t deny that shoppers have more options than ever when it comes to finding items they want to buy. Everyday we hear stories of how ecommerce giants are affecting brick & mortar retail. But often times making the purchase online at Amazon and eBay just to save a few bucks isn’t enough of an incentive. The physical store still has advantages over online pure plays, but the physical store has must adapt and reach shoppers through other channels, specifically mobile. Just think if you could own that shopper’s mobile experience by offering them benefits to stay engaged with your products in your store? We believe one of the most important first steps to mobile for retail stores is making it easy to view a store’s products and detailed descriptions, and that’s made easy with our integration with Vend POS.

40% of shoppers consult 3 or more channels before making a purchase. Give them another channel when they’re deciding where to spend their money. 80% of smartphone owners want more mobile-optimized product information while they’re shopping physical stores. Give shoppers with they want.

Give Shoppers Instant Gratification

One of the reasons shoppers choose to buy locally instead of shopping online is the ability to have their order in their hands that same day. Who wants to wait several days for shipping? Many large retail chains, such as Best Buy, Walmart, Home Depot, Toys R Us, Nordstrom and Target (to name a few) now offer the ability to buy online and pick up in-store.  So, not surprisingly, one of the most popular features of ShoppinPal with retail stores is the ability for shoppers to buy on their phones on the go, select the option for in-store pickup, and swing by the store to get their merchandise that same day.

Recommend Products to Shoppers

This is your chance to not only offer a great service to your shoppers, but also increase the chance they visit your store and buy more (whether they buy through their phone or come into the store) as they engage with your mobile e-commerce store enabled by ShoppinPal. Let’s say a shopper is browsing in your store’s products on their phone. Where do they start? You don’t have an associate to guide them if they aren’t yet in the store. So ShoppinPal acts as the guide by giving them quick views of the most popular items in your store as well as sale items. If they want to see all your in-store inventory, they can easily do that as well. By talking to your POS system, ShoppinPal displays all of the item’s information similar to an online shopping experience complete with the image name, image, price and description and automatically generates your stores’ most popular items by crunching your store’s receipts data.  ShoppinPal’s recommendation system also accesses a retailer’s receipts data and instantly displays smart product recommendations right on the phone depending on what products they like as they browse. This is a great opportunity to add value to the shopping experience while driving more sales during the same visit.

Let Customers Pay by Phone

More and more shoppers are starting to complete purchases not only on desktops and tablets, but also on their smartphones.  ShoppinPal makes this easy with a mobile payments platform that lets shoppers order ahead and pay by phone, and the orders instantly show up in your Vend POS system. All that’s left to do is for the customer to flash their e-receipt and you verify the order number and amount once they arrive at your store. For shoppers that don’t want to pay on the phone.

If a customer wants to pay with cash or swipe their card the traditional way, we support that too. They can still submit their order away from the store via ShoppinPal and choose to pay in the store. The order still shows up in Vend, but instead of that being a closed order, it stays open and the associate completes the order when the shopper arrives to pick up their order.

Give Customers Deals

Customers love a good deal, and with ShoppinPal merchants can create and promote deals on particular items that are automatically applied to a shopper’s order when purchased through a store’s specific ShoppinPal store url or product-specific url. Simply select a product, the appropriate dollar amount or percentage off, the duration of the deal, and you’re finished. This is easily configured in ShoppinPal’s Merchant Center, and our retail customers find the product-specific promotions quick and easy to enable.

If you want to learn more about how ShoppinPal helps retailers that use Vend POS, email [email protected]. If you use another retail POS system and want to know if ShoppinPal is compatible, email us. We look forward to hearing from you and can’t wait for you to join our group of ecstatic retail customers!

Mobile Commerce World 2013 Recap

Retail mobile commerce sales in the US are expected to reach $109 billion by 2017, according to a recent eMarketer study, which brings to light many opportunities and challenges for retailers. To help these companies come together to discuss, debate and learn, the Mobile Commerce World conference made its debut in San Francisco June 24-26 with an action-packed schedule of keynotes, presentations and panels as well as an exhibition floor full of innovative companies leading the way for the growing mobile commerce market.

Much of the agenda was broken into conference tracks, such as mobile retail, mobile payments & wallets technology, mobile commerce technology integration, and security & privacy for mobile commerce, which allowed attendees to take a deep dive on particular topics.

We heard from some of the biggest names in mobile, sharing experiences and strategies of how to best take advantage of mobile commerce today and in the coming years. Some of the more interesting discussions came from Wendy Bergh, VP Mobile & Digital Strategy at Walmart; Mike Finley, VP & CTO of Hosted Solutions for NCR; Bill Gajda, Head of Global Mobile Products at Visa; Patrick Gauthier, Head of Emerging Services for PayPal; and Nicolas Franchet, Head of Retail & E-Commerce at Facebook who shared how mobile technology is changing Facebook’s business.

The conference also included an innovators pitch session, bringing attention to startups focusing on mobile commerce. A couple standouts included Dsg.nr, the “Polyvore for home decore” where shoppers can create interactive design boards to redesign rooms in their homes, and Placed, who aggregates and analyzes the paths and places people visit in the physical world, providing retailers with actionable insights into consumer behaviors.

There was no shortage of great retailer success stories and viewpoints, case studies, exciting retail solution providers and innovative startups at the 3-day event. The spotlight shined on ShoppinPal throughout the conference as well. The first day of the event we sat down with Lou Covey of New Tech Press, who wrote an article on some of the highlights from Mobile Commerce World.

ShoppinPal CEO, Sriram Subramanian, answers questions from a packed house during his presentation on analytics for brick & mortar retail stores.
ShoppinPal CEO, Sriram Subramanian, answers questions from a packed house during his presentation on analytics for brick & mortar retail stores.

On Tuesday Sriram, ShoppinPal CEO, led the way with the first of many enlightening talks in the Solutions Theatre. His presentation “Turbo Charge Brick & Mortar Sales with Shopper Analytics” highlighted the challenges brick & mortar retailers face and how the right mobile shopping app can help solve some of those problems and increase shopper engagement and loyalty. Sriram explained how managers of physical retail stores can benefit from actionable analytics similar to ecommerce stores, including items browsed, wish list activity, conversion rates and even abandoned carts.

Sriram also joined the panel during the “M-POS and the Implications of EMV” session along with Brian Kilcourse of RSR Research, Richard Mader of NRF’s Association for Retail Technology Standards, Leslie Hand of IDC Retail Insights, and Cathy Medich Smart Card Alliance.

Mobile Commerce World put on a great event, and we look forward watching next year’s conference explode as acceptance and innovation continues to grow in the world of mobile commerce.

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Walmart has the Scan & Go mobile shopping app – What about other retailers?

Earlier this year, Walmart launched its Scan & Go feature for its Walmart app. Customers can use their device to scan items as they put them in their cart and then pay by phone at a self check-out station. As more and more shoppers enjoy this new way of shopping in Walmart, other retailers are wondering how they can offer the same Walmart scan & go experience to their customers without breaking the bank.

ShoppinPal is a similar mobile commerce app for retail stores and a great fit for early adopters across a range of retail verticals, such as gift and novelty, home furnishings, sporting goods, and even department stores. Retailers stand to gain the most by tying into the ever growing smartphone populace.

Analyzing the Problem

Even with Walmart’s emphasis on dominating through its brick-and-mortar presence, they are embracing mobile technology to recover their declining in-store retail sales. On May 16, Walmart reported its first same-store sales drop in seven quarters and only a slight increase in profit. However, quarterly online sales soared.

So, Walmart, like many other location-based retailers, studied its customers to determine why in-store retail sales were suffering. It found one-third of Walmart.com traffic comes from mobile visitors.

Its discoveries matched the lessons that ShoppinPal’s team has learned along the way — customers want mobile access to some of the best online shopping features (convenience, mobile check-out, personalized offers, etc.) if they’re going to shop in-store.

When Walmart began piloting its scan & go app at a small number of locations, we were busy deploying ShoppinPal with the “Pay at Counter” experience across several boutique retailers in U.S. along with consumer analytics and remarketing features that enabled them to continue the conversation with their customers, even after they had left the store.

The mounting empirical evidence shows that consumers care about more than just paying on their phone and skipping the line — it’s about making their life easier with every aspect of the shopping experience.

We realized this early on and focused on all those other little things that make for a perfect shopping experience, such as the ability to see product recommendations, save items on shopping lists or gift registries, and easily receive and redeem check-in rewards and personalized offers.

Adapting to Smaller Retail Stores

What if every small and midsized retail store could spec out their own mobile experience a-la-carte and have it ready in a matter of days and not months without any of their own IT effort? That’s exactly what we’ve done for our customers. We are changing the world of retail and providing equal access to this kind of mobile integration to brick & mortar stores of all sizes.

Some small to midsized businesses may believe this technology won’t apply to every brand or make assumptions that their customers won’t find the same advantages in a mobile experience that Walmart’s customers are enjoying. However, consider these trends — smartphones account for over 60% of all mobile phones sold in the US. In a 2013 Pew survey, 72% of smartphone owners reported using devices while shopping in stores. The Starbucks app now has over 4 million engaged users per week. All of these are strong indicators of the untapped potential of mobile technology to turbo charge brick & mortar sales.

Mobile integration is a huge opportunity for brick & mortar stores to drive people back into stores and successfully compete with online retailers by offering shoppers a richer in-store shopping experience. Continue to promote the benefits of in-store shopping (immediate delivery, easy returns, try before you buy, etc.) and combine that with mobile features to provide the customer a better, streamlined shopping experience.

We can’t all be Walmart in size, but ShoppinPal has made it easy for every retail store to have a Walmart-sized strategy!

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