By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily.com
Is your retail store taking full advantage of consumers’ love affairs with their smartphones? If not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to enhance customer loyalty, increase sales, and make your retail business more competitive. Here’s why mobile is so important to retailers today — and how to put mobile devices and apps to use in your store.
Over 90 percent of consumers check their phones even when they’re shopping, and the latest Think With Google report says searches for “where to buy” and “where to shop” have surged by 85 percent in the past two years. Shoppers use their phones to not only find your store, but also to look up more information on the products you carry, make price comparisons, get feedback from friends and family on whether or not to buy, and read online reviews.
So how can your store profit from this mobile dependency? Here are four ideas.
1. Offer free in-store Wi-Fi
Set up a separate guest Wi-Fi network (this helps protect your business’s Wi-Fi network while still giving guests internet access). Consumers turn to their phones for more information when they’re in your store, and most prefer using free Wi-Fi so they can save money on their data plans.
For retailers, providing free Wi-Fi has many benefits. It can keep shoppers in your store longer, especially younger consumers who consider it essential. Especially since 54 percent percent of millennials would rather use a mobile app to get information about products than talk to a salesperson, according to SmallBizDaily’s 2018 Mobility in Retail Survey.
Free guest Wi-Fi can also be used as an incentive. For example, you can ask users to agree to receive emails from you in order to access free Wi-Fi. Combine this with some type of incentive, such as a discount code they can use immediately, and you’ll get more sign-ups.
2. Make your loyalty program mobile
Over half of all consumers prefer to shop where they have loyalty points, and 66 percent of millennials are more likely to shop at a store where they’re part of a loyalty program, the mobility survey reports.
Mobile loyalty programs that users can access via their smartphones can increase adoption, especially among millennial and younger shoppers. Plus, digital loyalty programs typically allow you to gather valuable data on your customers’ shopping behaviors that you can later use to market to them more effectively.
3. Accept mobile payments
Boost your chances of making the sale by arming your salespeople with smartphones or tablets they can use to ring up customers anywhere in the store. This is a great way to get indecisive customers to buy, not to mention shorten checkout lines, which means happier shoppers.
However, you should also go beyond simply swiping payment cards on mobile devices and actually accept digital payments through mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. Digital payments speed up the checkout process even more, which is one reason millennials, in particular, are rapidly adopting this payment method. And the trend is just beginning. BI Intelligence estimates that by the end of 2020, the use of mobile payments in-store will quintuple.
4. Manage better with mobile devices
Instead of your retail employees calling in or running in and out of the stock room to check their schedules on a whiteboard, use shift scheduling software that’s compatible with a mobile app. That way, your employees can check their schedules whenever and wherever they need to — at home on their personal phones or at work on company devices.
Look for software that’s also easy to use on your mobile device, so you can create, edit, and share schedules in a flash. No more “reply all” email chains or confusing group texts. If the app you choose combines scheduling and time tracking and integrates with your accounting system and payroll, you’ll save even more time and headaches.
By taking these four steps to add mobile devices and apps to your retail operations, you’ll position your store for success now and in the increasingly mobile future.
Rieva Lesonsky is the CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for free TrendCast reports.