Retailers view mobile as a huge omnichannel engagement tool

Omnichannel Commerce

Several of the smartest minds and biggest names in the retail industry gathered at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show and discussed a variety of topics and trends. One of the most prevalent topics of conversation, however, was the rise of mobile devices and their role in omnichannel engagement.

The big dogs see big results from mobile engagement

Key figures from prominent retail chains, such as Lowe’s and Macy’s, all advocate the use of mobile devices to engage customers in omnichannel. Smartphones and tablets are by no means new devices and have been popular among consumers for years now. However, merchants continue to be impressed by how quickly shoppers are implementing these tools into their purchase decisions. People are no longer just looking up store locations – they are using apps to share purchases, reserving items to buy them in-store and to take other similar actions.

Moreover, merchants are using mobile devices to enhance the shopping experience even more than they have in the past. Beacons and geo-fencing allow them to offer tailored coupons and highlight relevant items to customers. This is just the tip of the iceberg as well, with everything from mobile payments to loyalty initiatives enhancing the shopping experience. It is not just customers using mobile devices, but actual retail employees as well.

“We see a lot of consumers using mobile to look for product and project knowledge, including thousands of how-to videos.”

“We see a lot of consumers using mobile to look for product and project knowledge, including thousands of how-to videos,” Brent Kirby, chief omnichannel officer at Lowe’s, told Multichannel Merchant. “Consumers are bringing their own devices, looking up information while they’re in-store. So we’re equipping associate (sic) with devices and apps to engage them and provide a greater level of detail. It requires a big investment, and we’ve seen good results.”

Making mobile pervasive

Businesses are investing in mobile at all stages of the game – from sites optimized for smartphones to warehouse employees using tablets to improve the picking process. These devices have the potential to make mission-critical activities much easier.

“We started from, what path to purchase is the most relevant for our client? For us, buy online and reserve in store lets the customer come in and try on products that are the most relevant.

“Most companies start out with something like ship from store, and everyone is trying to replicate the same path of growth,” Diane Ellis, CEO of The Limited, added. “We started from, what path to purchase is the most relevant for our client? For us, buy online and reserve in store lets the customer come in and try on products that are the most relevant. That has allowed us to take our resources and make sure we’re focusing on things that are meaningful for her, leveraging the best part of our store experience, our styling teams, taking items and extending them to a full outfit.”

As retailers look to the next year, they should keep mobile in mind, whether they are designing new websites or implementing new technology. Leveraging mobile tools may improve efficiency and give merchants new ways of interacting with customers, which can only be a benefit in the long haul. Many retailers are striving to make mobile pervasive, and this starts by incorporating these devices into all plans.

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