As consumers adapt their shopping behavior, smart retailers are changing as well. Rather than losing customers to e-commerce, they’re using mobile apps to create a true omni-channel retail experience. Here are five great ways to use an app to deepen relationships with current customers — and bring in new ones.
Mobile Apps & Loyalty Programs
Mobile-only coupons reward loyal customers, either within your main app or as a separate app. Kroger and Whole Foods grocery stores have chosen to include coupons in one all-purpose app, while Target uses their Cartwheel app to connect customers with special in-store offers.
Retailers have found a few ways to use GPS location services in phones to give their customers a better in-store experience.
- Notifications when a customer is near their store (Cartwheel does this, reminding you to use your app for extra savings as you walk into a Target.)
- A “Find in Store” search feature that lets customers find an item and see if it’s in stock (Walmart rolled this feature out at the end of 2014.)
- An in-app call button to get help from a store associate when and where customers need it (British supermarket chain Waitrose offers this feature — employees get notified on their mobile device so they can go to customers to answer questions.)
Many stores are getting into the online shopping world, allowing customers to order items through the mobile app and get them delivered at home. This type of experience works across a variety of retailers, including Urban Outfitters and Free People for clothing, Toys”R”Us for toys and baby gear, and Sephora for makeup.
Other categories of retailers, such as those that sell perishables, allow customers to order from the app and pick up in the store. For example, Walgreens allows users to buy products from the store as well as refill prescriptions, and Kroger’s ‘Clicklist’ option lets customers fill their grocery cart and pick up their order at a specified time so their personal shopper can grab items when they’re fresh.
Discounts and Marketing through Third Parties
To get new customers in the door, retailers use apps such as Groupon and Living Social to connect with new customers. To ensure that their message gets out mainly to new customers, smart retailers put a limit of one per customer (and one as a gift) — otherwise, savvy shoppers might buy a bunch of discount vouchers just to save money.
Lacey earned a B.A. from Baylor University. Sic'em!
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