How Mobile brings retail channels together

Critics are rejecting the idea that retailers are operating in an omni channel world; they claim that most retailers are still not even multi-channel, saying that they may have optimised their operations and communications through each channel, but not across channels. Mobile is clearly one of the ways in which retailers can provide a consistent, seamless experience to customers, almost regardless of the channels.

Retailers can use mobile devices in various ways to interact with customers and improve their experience, from tablets used in-store for mobile PoS, visual displays and online services, to sending electronic coupons and gift vouchers to a customer’s phone, keeping them updated on offers.

For instance, in store, tablets connected to the internet via WiFi are a great way for retailers to offer their entire product offering, where previously they could only offer a limited range. This delivers better variety and availability of products which in turn helps drive sales.

A great example of this is our recent project with Reiss, the international men and women’s fashion brand, which has introduced iPads across all UK and US stores with a new fully managed WiFi network, in a bid to complement its multichannel offering and give customers full visibility of its entire product range.

Mobile gift vouchers are a great way of building customer loyalty and enticing customers back in store. Typically, the best deals are available online, so mobile vouchers play an important part in customers feeling that they can also receive good value for money in store. A step up from this is using mobile for up selling, if retailers can identify specific customer purchases, a mobile teaser campaign can be launched to promote products related to their purchase.

Another method of delivering vouchers to customers via mobile is the use of push notifications. When a customer is within close proximity to a store, a direct message can be sent via short-range networks such as Bluetooth, with offers and discounts to persuade them to venture in.

A great example of the use of mobile technology in retail is the recent project with Reiss, the international men and women’s fashion brand, who has introduced iPads across all UK and US stores with a new fully managed WiFi network in a bid to complement its multichannel offering and give customers full visibility of its entire product range in-store.

The connected store is as easy as A,B,C

Today’s consumers are better informed and more price and service critical than ever before; they purchase goods in an omnichannel environment, interacting with retailers and brands in increasingly sophisticated ways.

Responding to this new and demanding consumer is a challenge that all retailers now face, whether operating in the traditional bricks and mortar or online-only environments. Consumers have demanded to see their stores turned into ‘theatres’ of shopping that include; in-store WI-FI with Bluetooth used for push alerts, plasma screens with HD advertising content, and in-store kiosks delivering the capability to order online or check stock availability.

But this is only the start of the retail technology race, leading to an uncertain future dominated by shifting consumer spending mixed with consistent demand for high quality customer engagement. Retail performance in 2012 has already indicated that smarter retailing is about responding to your customers’ needs, while predicting the trends that will be determining sales patterns throughout the year to come.

How long will it be before consumers expect iPads in every store? Maybe some stores will scrap payment desks altogether and just have roving staff members who process payments with NFC-enabled mobile technology. Stepping up to meet these changes, and helping to ensure that retailers are properly prepared for what is to come, has become the driving force behind a new campaign to better educate retailers about the benefits of adopting a seamless approach to selling across the business.

The Connected Store is a campaign is aimed at helping retailers find the gaps that exist between the channels and fulfilling them through technology. It is critical for retailers to gain a better understanding of the kinds of data that is being generated from omnichannel retailing and more importantly how it can be used to provide better customer service.

More retailers are now getting behind this concept, enabling them to communicate with their customers at every stage of the shopping journey, generating key data and pulling down the walls of traditional retailing to deliver a highly personalized service.

Top Tips: Using free WiFi to drive your hospitality business

Make free Wi-Fi work for your business

Demand for free wireless networks is no longer restricted to coffee shops and public libraries, in fact modern consumers are increasingly expecting Wi-Fi to be available almost everywhere they go; from their gym to their garden centre.

In spring 2013, a whole 27-mile stretch of the River Thames is set to have free Wi-Fi access made available for river commuters and in open spaces, with around 100 wireless hotspots being created.

Bradford and Leeds Councils have now launched free Wi-Fi across their City Parks in a project with Virgin Media Business and Global Reach Technology.

So how can you make it work better for your business?

Generate a new revenue stream

Providing consumers free Wi-Fi doesn’t have to cost you money. Why not consider offering consumers a free basic usage package but charging them for additional needs.

Providing Wi-Fi in high-use areas, such as in hotels, hostels and motorway service stations can often mean the user experience varies depending on how many people are accessing it at once and what they are using it for.

Scale your Wi-Fi

By setting up a scalable service and charging for premium users who might need file sharing or live streaming, you ensure a much more consistent service for each user and its fair, they more they use, the more they pay.

Get them online

Encourage your customers to get online and engage through promotions and discounts. Everyone has a mobile, so engage with them properly on it and market straight to them.

Reassure consumers over data security

More and more people own some kind of Wi-Fi enabled device but many people are still uncertain about security, particularly when it comes to payments. Take the time to educate your customers on just how safe wireless networks really are.

Surprise your customers

In many sectors, wireless connectivity is almost expected as an industry standard. People increasingly expect to see some kind of network access for wireless devices and the scope of business areas where it is expected as standard is increasing. If your business isn’t one, it could be very soon.

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