The excitement of using a mobile phone, and the disappointment in buying one

Mobile devices are a core part of our lives – indeed 11% of American smartphone owners would rather leave home without their pants than their phone. 1. They are essential tools that help us keep in touch, organise our busy lives and keep us entertained if we have a few minutes of downtime. So, buying a new phone is a hotly anticipated, important decision – however the journey to buy a new device can be confusing, tedious and often overwhelming.

Given the fast pace of change in mobile technology, mobile phone retail should be ahead of the curve offering the best in-store experience and showcasing why customers should buy in-store today. Customers are using mobile tools to help decide where they want to shop, to check prices and 3rd party reviews to help them make the best decision possible. Ironically they are using phones to influence their decisions, which ultimately could steer them away from your brand or store. 

We need to shift the focus from just price and promotions and provide an in-store experience to that is immersive, engaging and fun – essentially closing the gap between the customer experience and the user experience. No-one is doing this particularly well, so being first to tackle the challenge could give shoppers a clear reason to buy your brand or convert in your store.

10 ways for brands and retailers to consider, closing the gap between promise and the experience of Mobile Retail.

1. Detach and distribute: Don’t assume customers will find you – the marketplace is cluttered with brands shouting for attention and share of wallet. Consider how to create points of engagement outside traditional routes to market, where customers may be starting to think about your category to drive pre-consideration for your brand.

2. Don’t say, do: Every touchpoint should be a chance to further a conversation or drive an action. Close the loop between advertising and retail by blurring the lines of responsibility, for example effective use of QR codes on outdoor media to shortcut to the purchase.

3. Relinquish control: Shoppers already choose where, when and how they shop. Embrace a transparent approach rather than fight it, and offer in-store tools that help shoppers to make a final decision, and encourage conversion whilst in your store.

4. Help them help themselves: Given the pace of change, it is likely that the technology has leapt forwards and offers new and enhanced functionality from the customers current handset. Educate shoppers with simple language that explains the benefits and offer support during and post purchase – maybe through learning programs in-store or via mobile apps.

5. Let customers pounce: Shoppers generally prefer to self-discover rather than be led. Invite shoppers to interact with simple engagement tools, and ensure staff are on-hand if required. Allowing people to shop at their own pace may help to encourage dwell time and conversion to purchase.

6. Knowledge is power. Shoppers have increased levels of awareness and product knowledge before they come into store, challenging the role of staff and their ability to influence. Look for ways to harness mobile technology to engage and educate staff further, helping them to help their customers better and improve the customer experience in-store.

7. Eat your own dog food:  Brand stores should be using their own products as an integral part of the experience which allows customers to see the product working hard. There’s an app for practically everything so look to utilise your own products in a natural way in-store.

8. Always be in beta. Never assume that you’ve reached retail Nirvana. Explore different roles for stores on the high street, eg standalone service hubs or richer brand experiences. Explore, learn from other categories and experiment to make sure you are always 10 minutes ahead.

9. A noble purpose: Stand for something believable and invest in long-term relationships to build credibility and give customers a reason to believe. Extend conversations beyond the purchase with digital and in-store events and develop an ongoing dialogue with your customers. This is still relatively untapped territory, and a significant opportunity for those that grasp it first. However, ensure it follows through to all touchpoints and becomes a mantra for the business otherwise it’ll be seen as marketing fluff.

10. Finally, keep your customers close and your data closer: Developments in mobile, the cloud and other emerging technologies are opening the doors for a truly personalised service. 1:1 conversations based on contextual and proximity information will take you one step ahead of the competition. Future conversations could be proactive rather than being led by the customer by tapping and learning from the users behaviours, likes and dislikes.

While other categories such as fashion, have quickly embraced the technology and are integrating into the core of their offer, Mobile retail has been caught napping and needs to engage the right partners now to catch up. Retailers and brands should be 10 minutes ahead with new thinking and a dynamic approach, with success measured by sales, shoppers and staff. Adopting a fresh, shoppercentric approach to close the user experience loop will help the Mobile Phone retail industry take the reins and lead the way in Mobile retailing.

Victoria Pascoe, Retail Strategy Director, Inferno