The world is going mobile. People are spending more time on their smartphone and using it for an increasing number of functions and services.
Retail is following.
The smartphone is transforming into the true point of presence. With the smartphone, users can learn of deals, get recommendations, compare prices, receive a coupon, share their thoughts on products — anytime, from any location.
The smartphone is likewise a tremendous platform to allow retailers to develop a personal relationship with an increasing number of customers.
As popular as SMS/text messaging services are with retailers, the smartphone app must also be considered. According to app analytics firm Flurry mobile users now spend more time with apps than even mobile web browsing. Flurry noted that the average smartphone users now spend 94 minutes in apps a day compared to 72 minutes in a mobile web browser.
The gap is growing!
Small wonder, than, that retailers are embracing not just the smartphone, but the smartphone app.
According to Mobile Marketer, luxury retailer, Ralph Lauren, which has utilized mobile to increase sales and enhance the in-store experience, has now embraced the app.
The retailer has both mobile apps for its brands as well as a mobile Web site. By using mobile, the company has been able to target consumers of particular brands and tie their mobile experience to an in-store engagement.
To help users interact with Ralph Lauren’s RLX brand, the retailer tapped mobile with an engaging iPad app that users could play with to see the clothes in the collection.
In addition, Ralph Lauren’s “Rugby brand”, which is aimed at younger consumers, aged 18 – 27, uses an app to encourage shoppers to create and buy a personalized shirt. The app then goes social. Users can send their customized shirt design to be projected in the store window of Rugby’s New York location.
Apps for retail are, in fact, designed not simply to help increase sales but to build a unique relationship with the customer. The app can support customer ‘check ins’ that allow a customer to receive rewards, points or deals whenever they enter your store.
Since location-awareness is built-in, this also helps with marketing spend and focus. For the customer, beyond the deals and specials they can be presented in real-time, it’s possible to incorporate features such as Google Wallet, enabling the customer to use their smartphone to pay for any purchases.
Not only are more of your customers using smartphones, odds are very high that they are spending an increasing amount of time with smartphone apps. For many, this can be more time on apps than spent on the web or watching television. But the app is more than just a platform for advertising. The app offers an opportunity for a robust, focused interaction between retailer and customer. Allow them to receive rewards for their loyalty. Encourage their check-ins and track their purchase history. The app supports immediate integration with social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Encourage the customer to check-in to your shop via Facebook, or tweet their latest purchase or product recommendation.
The app is a starting point to a lasting relationship with your customers.