Gone are the days when shopping meant having to wait in long lines or fighting through the crowd (Spartan!) to grab the best lot in sales. Today, shopping means slouching on a sofa, checking out hundreds of products and picking up your favourite on a 4”X4” screen. More people than ever before are turning to their smartphones to shop. Brick-and-mortar storefronts are feeling the crunch. But it’s not all that bad!
Even in this age of mobile, the good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar model is going strong. Recent surveys suggest that a substantial fraction of sales still occurs in physical stores. And for the right reasons; the ability to feel, touch and try on the products at the spot – It’s irreplaceable. The expeditious success of retail apps does not mean the end of traditional retail stores. Quite contrarily, apps have added a whole new dimension to the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.
The need of the hour for retail businesses is not to shift their focus from brick-and-mortar to apps (or vice-versa), but to make the best of both worlds – Mobile apps and brick-and-mortar storefronts. According to a recent survey conducted by Compariscope, shoppers who've installed a brand's app, visit its brick-and-mortar store more often compared to those shoppers who haven’t. Here are 6 smart ways brick-and-mortar businesses can use mobile apps to engage with customers and rev up their in-store shopping experience.
1. Digitise the In-Store Experience
Whether you are a shopaholic or a reluctant shopper, you all have that in-store moment when you just can’t seem to find what you’re looking for. Leading retail brands like Lowe’s and Target already realise this and are bringing online search tools to their brick-and-mortar stores via apps. With an in-store mode in your mobile app, you can provide users with detailed, interactive mapping of the store, helping shoppers to know the exact aisle location of a specific product. But there’s more to digitising the in-store experience than improved discoverability. According to Consumer Electronics Association, 6 in 10 shoppers use their mobile devices to look up information while shopping. As a retailer, you can embed QR codes over some sections of your catalogue, allowing your shoppers to scan it and get more information about that section.
2. Stay Closer to Your Customers
Whether you run a grocery chain or a corner niche store, honing in on your target audience and keeping them close is crucial to keep up with your competitors. Mobile apps come loaded with owned channels like in-app messages and push notifications, enabling businesses to connect with their on-the-go customers. Push notifications can help you keep shoppers in the loop of upcoming sales, nudge them with new arrivals or give them real-time updates when a product comes back in stock. Instappy lets you schedule and send push notifications to your audience across any time for any part for the world.
3. Get the Social Buzz Going
Today’s data native generation is highly social. They ask for recommendations, upload photos, and share reviews about your products and storefront on social platforms. Social media gives small businesses a platform to engage with prospects and customers without being advertorial. And since social media is mostly mobile, it’s imperative for businesses to have a robust mobile presence. Social media APIs enable your customers to share stories and snapshots from your store on their social profiles without ever having to leave your app. From Facebook to Twitter; Pinterest to Instagram; Foursquare to Burrp, Instappy comes loaded with 50+ social APIs to help you integrate you app with social and promote your local business.
4. Streamlining the Checkout Process
The long checkout line is still one of the bottlenecks of brick-and-mortar shopping. Mobile can play a prominent role in streamlining the payment process. With NFC (Near-Field Communication) technology, retailers can integrate shoppers’ mobile phones with their POS systems, enabling them to make instant payments on mobile. By eliminating the friction from the in-store buying process, brick-and-mortar businesses can drive revisits and boost engagement.
5. Garnering Positive Reviews
With social media becoming ubiquitous, more and more shoppers are reading and sharing reviews of products and storefronts before making an in-store purchase. According to a survey conducted by BrightLocal, 88% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a storefront. Instappy powered apps come loaded with an integrated feedback form, allowing you to keep a tab on users’ feedback and suggestions, thus enabling you to make incremental improvements in your app and eventually garner more positive reviews.
6. Make the Most of Festive Season
Festive season means business. And a substantial fraction of this business comes from mobile. According to IBM, mobile netted 34.8% of overall online sales on Christmas eve in 2014. Deployed smartly, an app not only helps push m-commerce sales during festivities but also drives more footfall to the brick-and-mortar store. With a galore of beautiful, fully-customisable templates, Instappy enable retailers to deck up their app for the festive season and make the most it!
In today’s digital native age, shoppers are going omni-channel. With a multitude of internet-enabled devices at arm’s reach, they search for a product on one device and make the purchase on another. The bottomline – To catch up with today’s shoppers, your brick-and-mortar business needs to have a gorgeous app.
The possibilities offered by custom mobile apps for brick-and-mortar establishments are truly limitless – It can help them expand their reach, gain new prospects, drive revenues and get the competitive edge in the market. There are many retail giants who have embraced the power of apps and made a fortune out of it. It’s time small businesses catch up on the trend as well.
Can you think of more innovative ways to improve your business' in-store experience via apps? Let us know in the comments below!
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