Tom is head of marketing at MomentFeed. His insight helps the world's best known retail brands drive more in-store sales through mobile.
Mobile devices are rapidly turning into personal assistants that no longer just help users with their contact lists and to navigate traffic. They now recommend restaurants, shops, events and, of course, good deals.
Every day, mobile devices become more like 5-star hotel concierges that understand where you are, what you want, what’s nearby and what you might want to do. Real-world recommendations are now built into the fabric of every new mobile device as part of the operating system. They leverage internet-based services like Yelp and Google My Business, along with maps, search engines and even your friends’ reviews to make recommendations based on hundreds of data points. The lines between the online world and real world are blurring as our mobile devices become extensions of ourselves.
This rapid advancement of mobile technology has created a critical challenge for brands, which have to appear in a mobile recommendation set if they want to drive more business. They also need to be front and center to better compete with companies like Amazon, which has set the standard for blockbuster digital storefronts that are just one click away.
Brands must also battle to beat search results driven by short-term advertising blitzes, monthly SEO results, and even Siri or Google Assistant’s best-kept local recommendations.The importance of investing in mobile strategies to boost brand visibility has never been greater.
That’s because the role of mobile in influencing offline sales is rapidly expanding.
Working with some of the largest retailers and restaurant groups in the U.S., I've been able to help guide the most forward-thinking brands to leverage their local store presence on mobile devices. The goal is to help them not only become more visible than their competition but also to position them as a more likely choice than the big tech providers (Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing) that compete to make more personal, local recommendations.
Mobile-First Is KeyAccording to Deloitte, digital devices influence 56% of all in-store sales and shows no signs of abating. Research also shows that nearly 50% of consumers would likely make an in-store purchase if mobile search results showed the product was available at local stores. What’s more, while in-store buying still dominates, mobile is now the No. 1 preference for shopping among consumers ages 18 to 29, data from Market Track indicates.
This all points to a future in which brands must increasingly influence shoppers on mobile in order for them to become in-store customers to compete and survive. It also means that brands must adjust strategies to become mobile-first. Consumers have become mobile-first, and the brands that recognize this reorient their teams and make mobile-first a priority will continue to lead their peers in growth. Brands with multiple locations, for instance, need to ensure that each store’s information is accurate when consumers search for it on a mobile device. Who wouldn’t be annoyed by incorrect information when looking up store hours or locations on their phone? What if your store listing doesn’t show up at all? That’s an even bigger problem. Brands must continue to improve on location data precision, consistency and the quality of each store’s presence across the most-used web and mobile services. By doing so, brands can make their nearest location every consumer’s first and most obvious choice on any mobile device.
Overall, when consumers look to their phones, trusted apps and social networks to find their next offline experience, brands need the right tools to secure and maintain the top recommendations as well as overall visibility. Brands also need to observe and listen to what customers really want from their mobile experience -- and then make sure to deliver it.Making sure that every digital network that describes one of your stores has up-to-date information makes that store look like it's in business. Look across the 10-20 most popular networks and claim those pages or listings. And ensure your address, phone number and business hours are updated, especially during holidays.
Ensuring business information is accurate is the bare minimum. You also need to make a great first impression. Each store should have its own narrative -- photos, videos, menus, special events, comments from the manager and responses to customer comments, ratings and inquiries. Continuous updates and customer engagement will make every location more appealing to potential new customers as well as be better suited for search engine recommendations.
(Re)Investing In Mobile To SurviveBrands need to reconsider their strategies in this mobile-first world not only to provide a stellar customer experience but also to provide a memorable one. Mobile devices now power what the Harvard Business Review dubs the “experience economy.” This is an economy in which consumers value experiences above commodities -- one in which brands must, according to the article, “engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event. Commodities are fungible, goods tangible, services intangible, and experiences memorable."
Memorable, I would argue, also becomes repeatable, and that’s what brands want most of all: consumers who come back again and again.
Surviving in today’s retail landscape is no easy task. Even the nation’s tax policy has become fodder for how retailers can survive in the “Amazon-era,” with The Wall Street Journal asking how retailers will spend their tax savings: Will it go to shareholders or be reinvested?
However brands invest, one thing is certain: Those that invest in the right technologies and tools to ensure that their brand is visible to potential customers will certainly see the return on investment.