Kevin Davis, Senior Professional Services Director, Syniverse, explores how retailers are connecting with customers to capitalise on mobile moments along the new retail path to purchase.
The ‘path to purchase’ concept has long been a foundation of retail strategy. Now, however, a new era of the constantly connected, mobile-empowered customer is redefining this path. Mobile devices, text messages, apps, social media and multiple other channels offer more ways than ever for retailers to interact with customers. As a result, retailers have gained both an unprecedented opportunity to reach their customers with personalised messages in the ‘mobile moment,’ and an opportunity to realise the rewards of increased business, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction.
Mobile moments are the specific points along the path to purchase when customers turn to their mobile devices. These moments, often driven by impulse, are the times when the customers use mobile to connect with a brand, research information or make a purchase. With mobile increasingly being integrated as a part of our lifestyles and with many people considering their mobile devices so valuable that they keep them within reach at all times, it’s critical for retailers to identify these mobile moments and strategically act on them.
In the past, the typical customer path to purchase was linear and employed a sequence that included ideation, research, purchase and enjoyment. The power of mobile though has changed this dramatically. The new path to purchase is an integrated and interactive experience that evolves as the customer interacts with the retailer in the store, on mobile, online and on social media. Not only is the new path to purchase no longer linear, but it’s evolved to one where the customer journey has become mobile-centric.
Soaring rates of mobile adoption and the new expectations of a mobile-first customer base are the reasons for this new path. Mobile use is currently at an all-time high and continues to accelerate, increasingly being used for research, price comparisons and making purchases. Not only do mobile ads boost physical store visits by eighty per cent in first day of viewing, research conducted by RetailMeNot earlier this year predicts that mobile devices will account for 28.6% of all online purchases in the UK in 2015.
Taking this growth into account, a seamless omnichannel path to purchase strategy is now imperative for retailers to capitalise on these mobile moments. This means that retailers must interact with their customers in richer and more intuitive ways that are more personal, more contextual and in real or near real-time. One example of this is being able to determine the location of a shopper and sending geo-location offers. These are personalised offers that are sent when a customer gets within a certain distance of a location, usually a brick-and-mortar store. These types of offers have high redemption rates since they are presented at the time of decision making.
CAPITALISING ON MOBILE MOMENTS
As mobile adoption continues to increase, retailers have rushed to embrace new ways to connect with their customers, most notably through apps. With good reason. A recent report by Cisco found that more than fifty per cent of shoppers said they will use a retailer’s app for, or during, shopping, and 34% claimed to use a third-party app.
Yet app adoption has slowed in the past few years, indicating that apps aren’t enough to optimise engagement with customers. Based on this trend, retailers must look to additional ways of capitalising on mobile moments.
Text messaging offers one such way and is proving itself to be a critical element of an integrated mobile engagement strategy. With ninety per cent of text messages being read within three minutes, according to Mobile Squared, messaging can be used as a direct channel to drive customers to rich content like apps, videos or mobile-optimised websites.
Another engagement channel that has been widely embraced by retail marketers is social media. In the past, many companies placed social media at the end of their path to purchase strategies by enticing customers to share “look what I just bought” messages. The recent introduction of mobile-only “Buy it” buttons have altered the path to purchase by shifting social media closer to the start of the customer’s journey.
Buy buttons, which have recently been announced by Google, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, enable customers to purchase products instantly while they browse on their favourite platforms. Consequently, they are effectively turning each platform into its own mobile marketplace.
Where though do buy buttons fit within a retailer’s wider mobile strategy? The truth is that they are just another channel that needs to be considered for increased customer engagement, just as apps, emails and text messages are. The value of buy buttons lies in the fact that social media platforms have a built-in audience and can drive lots of traffic, significantly widening the net in which to capture customers in the mobile moment.
Moreover, creating an integrated, cross-channel mobile engagement strategy does more than provide retailers the opportunity to capture customers in the mobile moment. By understanding the mobile-centric nature of the new path to purchase, retailers can reap multiple business benefits, including better customer acquisition, improved customer service, and enhanced engagement, through loyalty programs.
Yet merely adding mobile channels to a marketing mix won’t work. Without taking into account the holistic consumer experience and the potential collateral damage of uncoordinated campaigns, it is unlikely a retailer can succeed in this new mobile market.
360-DEGREE CUSTOMER VIEW
Mobile has opened a world of opportunities for capturing consumers in the mobile moment. Devices that are opted in and connected to networks and in-store beacons, for example, leave time-stamped and geographic signatures, and the use of apps and social channels produces a record of browsing, sharing and purchasing activity. These data points, referred to as “mobile context,” enable us to better understand the intentions, actions and movements of customers and allow retailers to successfully shape their marketing efforts to reflect what customers want.
When mobile context is leveraged with other customer insights, including web and transactional data, retailers are able to get a full 360-degree or “single view” of the customer. This in turn allows retailers to create metrics for areas such as customer sentiment and brand strength.
Gaining a 360-degree customer view offers the holy grail for many retailers – an unprecedented way for them to truly understand each individual customer’s path to purchase. Analysing the path to purchase, when done correctly, can shape merchandising, customer support, public relations and marketing efforts all while enabling a more personalised experience for each individual customer. For example, retailers can determine their brand enthusiasts, top shoppers, and most popular products based on knowing their customers.
As a growing number of customers turn to their mobile devices for support with their shopping experience, retailers must respond. They must focus their strategies on mobile in order to capture and capitalise on these mobile moments at every stage of the new path to purchase.
Moreover, retailers need to treat each and every customer journey individually. They must provide rich, engaging experiences enabled by mobile context that reach the right customer, with the right message, at the right time. The retailers that get it right will be those that win customers’ loyalty from today’s new mobile-first, connected customer.