Mobile devices have become central to the shopping experience. Whether used to compare prices, access wish-lists, or coordinate movement between family members at multiple locations, our phones guide us to the best available deals and help us to minimize the chaos. At no time of year is the need for this more apparent than the holiday season, and as a result, retailers and marketers are focusing their efforts on maximizing convenience for customers.
Location data is king in this arena. Not only does it provide information about crowds and factors that affect them (like the never-ending Interstate construction or the thunderstorm soaking through our boots), but location data also provides opportunities to deliver tailored messaging to customers on the go. The broader impact this is having on brick-and-mortar retail spaces is that they are becoming more capable of competing with online retailers like Amazon and Overstock.com. The current state of mobile marketing has afforded storefronts the ability to incorporate some of the advantages of online spaces into their own models. Companies that are committed to enhancing their efforts in mobile marketing and improving upon what’s offered by online retailers—such as with customized advertisements, app development, price-matching, charging stations, free wifi, etc.—are being rewarded with higher sales.
This comes at a time of robust customer activity. Fidelity Investments reports that “the National Retail Federation is forecasting a 3%-4% increase in holiday spending” in 2017. Retailers are pulling out all the stops to draw us into their stores this year, extending into artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve advertising customization. Anindya Ghose, a marketing analytics professor at NYU, highlights the necessity of smartphones in this environment, telling Fidelity that customers’ behavior on a phone factors into 40% of all retail transactions. The more dynamic the digital strategy, the better companies can reach their customers.
Keeping up with online retail spaces remains a challenge for their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Fidelity spoke on this subject with Josh Blechman, director of capital markets at ACSI Funds, who stated, “If you don’t have a systematic advantage, like a membership model, retailers need to stress convenience, which means online and increasingly mobile.” Ultimately, retailers have a growing interest in making their spaces reflect the convenience of the desktop experience as closely as possible. Without this level of integration, we may all choose to stay on the couch, Cheetos in hand, surfing for better deals on our laptops.