Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2012 - (Page 8)

TECHNOLOGY Try new retailer strategies to embrace the smartphone-toting shopper, leverage Wi-Fi-enabled devices to combat “showrooming” and increase shopper engagement. Showrooming Mushrooming T oday, we live and shop in an increasingly connected world. For the first time this year, there are more mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, than there are people in the United States, and tech pundits predict that the number of smartphones will surpass the number of people on the planet by the end of the year. Mobile devices are here to stay, and they’re becoming an increasingly important part of the shopping experience. Savvy shopping center owners and retailers are installing and upgrading Wi-Fi networks to provide consumers with the connectivity that they crave, and smartphone and tablet-toting consumers are sharing their shopping experiences in real time. This increased connectivity also has given rise to the “showrooming” trend, the practice of using brick-and-mortar stores as try-before-you-buy-online locations. A recent survey found that more than 50 percent of smartphone users showroom when in-store. The ubiquity of mobile devices and the blurring of the lines between brick-and-click shopping habits introduce new challenges at retail, but also significant new opportunities. Today’s retailers and mall owners must evolve with their connected customers. Leveraging shoppers’ favorite companions – Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices – in innovative new ways can keep customers engaged, lengthen their time in-store, increase customer loyalty and combat showrooming. Customer Connection The overwhelming popularity of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices has made providing a fast, reliable and affordable Wi-Fi network a customer-service must for leading shopping center developers, and adoption of Wi-Fi is growing among leading retailers. These WiFi networks not only provide customers with the connectivity they’ve come to expect, but they also provide a variety of new ways to engage with shoppers and keep them coming back. Consider just a few of the strategies currently being employed by Boingo Wireless partners and other leading mall operators and retailers to increase shopper satisfaction and brand loyalty, and to curtail showrooming. Invite customers to your club. One of the first things a mobile device user looks for when entering a new location is whether they have a Wi-Fi connection. In fact, a 2011 study found that average smartphone users check their phones 34 times a day. Savvy shopping center developers can seize this first connection to a Wi-Fi network or browser pagelaunch by serving up a branded landing page, which can include information on a center’s loyalty program, special events or sales to drive engagement and in-venue traffic. Catch shoppers in buying mode: Whether they came to showroom or are just along for the shopping trip, consumers in retail locations default to buying mode. Via Wi-Fi, retailers can push coupons and QR codes to shoppers in real time to encourage that instant gratification purchase. Centers can even employ geofencing technology, setting a virtual perimeter within a mall, to deliver hyper-local offers for stores in a given area. Mobile couponing has proven popular. According to Juniper Research, more than 3.4 billion mobile coupons were redeemed globally in 2011. Embrace the app: A recent Deloitte Digital study, “The Dawn of Mobile Influence,” found that smartphone shoppers are more than 14 percent more likely to make a purchase in-store than non-smartphone users. Their hypothesis? Native retail apps – or retail apps designed for mobile devices – can provide a more tailored and relevant experience and can limit outside influence, helping shoppers make an immediate in-store buying decision. Encouraging app downloading when a shopper logs into a network or launches a browser could increase brand loyalty. Cracking the Code on Shopping Trends: It’s hard to imagine life without one’s favorite smartphones and tablets, but it’s helpful to remember that the smartphone is only five years old, and the modern tablet was introduced just two years ago. These technologies are in their infancy, and retailers are just be- 8 September/October 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2012

Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2012
Brand Licensing Europe
Showrooming Mushrooming
Pinch the Grinch
Category Insight
Upfront: BJ's Wholesale
Mind Candy
Outfit 7
Halfbrick Studios
Redasign Studio
Sony Pictures Consumer Products
Brentwood Licensing
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Chestnut Petroleum Distributors Inc.
The Hartley Co.
Mollie Stone’s Markets
Regal Oil
80Purple Cow Stores
Ocean State Job Lot
Staples Canada
Brookshire Grocery Co.
Wally’s Food Pride
Jewelry Television
Skin Science Labs Inc.
Great Clips
New & Noteable

Retail Merchandiser - September/October 2012