Mobile shopping has undoubtedly disrupted retail. Customers shopping in one store can now compare prices of products at other stores in just minutes from their mobile devices. This is clearly dangerous to retailers’ business, but there is little retailers can do to get people off their phones without appearing to be pushy.
If you’re worried about people using their phones to search for other prices or products while in your store, you might consider creating something else for them to focus on. I’m talking about your own in-store app.
Apps have been wildly successful for tons of brands like Ikea, Walmart and Starbucks, and they can be especially useful for furniture retailers. The idea of an in-store app is that customers will use it to find out information about your store, from the store layout to product prices. This will keep the consumer focused on your store and your products, and it can help them better enjoy the shopping experience.
These apps will not be a replacement for retail sales associates. Instead, they'll be valuable aids, allowing the salesperson and customer to have tons of information at their fingertips.
What kinds of things would an app do?
Bring reviews to the customer. When consumers research products online at home, they tend to read reviews. After all, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Now imagine a person is standing in your store and wants to know what others think about a product. Instead of allowing them to go to another website, such as Yelp, make it easy to look at reviews on your in-store app. They’ll read real reviews and product ratings while keeping your store at the front of their minds.
Is this product in stock? Let me check. An app can be used two different ways for keeping track of in-stock products. First, employees or consumers can easily check their apps while in-store to see if an item is available. If a product isn’t in stock, they can see when it will be back in stock or order it straight from the app. Second, the app can be used to send notifications to consumers when a previously out-of-stock item is back in stock.
Special offers, discounts and deals, oh my! Speaking of notifications, apps are great way to push special offers, discounts and deals. Customers might be more likely to buy something if they get a push notification about coupons while in the store. Or if they see it when shopping elsewhere, it could bring the business to you. You can even offer a discount if they download the app or leave a review.
Take it up a notch. Lazada uses its app in one of the smartest ways possible: to keep track of how users move about the store. It uses the data to optimize the layout of the store and see what products people are shopping the most. Think of how useful this could be to a furniture retailer with a giant showroom. You can see what’s popular in your store and what needs to be reorganized, and you can even build a map into the app to help the traffic flow through the store.
While there is potential for an in-store app, there are some things you need to keep in mind.
First, the app must be extremely easy to use, or consumers won’t bother messing with it. This is especially true of older consumers who aren’t as tech savvy. Make your app intuitive so there’s little to no learning curve for consumers.
Next, the app must also be able to work across multiple systems — from desktops to smartphones to tablets. Not everyone will use your app in the store, and that’s okay. The idea is to keep your brand at the top of their mind. But if consumers can’t access the app from their tablet, you might find yourself with one less customer.
Finally, you should make your app work offline. People are more likely to use it if they don’t have to connect to the Internet to do so. It’s not a bad idea to offer free WiFi in your store, except if consumers use it to go online and compare prices with other stores. This is why having an app that works offline is beneficial.
However you decide to develop your app, remember that it’s not a replacement for salespeople, websites or customer service. It’s a helpful tool that can make shopping easier and keep consumers focused on your store.
What do you do to keep customers focused in your store? I want to hear from you! Contact me at www.bobbibobbi.com