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I spoke last week at WTM Vision Shanghai conference and one retail store owner shared his concern that mobile may compete with and hurt his off-line retail business.
People are more comfortable shopping on mobile. Take China mobile market for example, the total mobile shopping transactions in the first quarter has an increase of 207% compared to the same period in the previous year.
But, mobile may not necessarily hurt offline retail business. According to a recent Gallup survey, there are more people shopping more because of mobile technology than those who shop less. 19% admit they now shop less at retail stores as a result of the rise of mobile technology, 22% say they are now doing more shopping in person at retail stores.
According to another Deloitte research and analysis, the biggest impact of smartphones isn’t direct sales generated through the mobile channel, but rather the influence they exert over traditional in-store sales to drive in-store conversion and in-store average order size.
Online shopping brings convenience and variety of choices to the consumers but it can not deliver the same experience that in-store shopping can. If you are a traditional retailer and you want to avoid being hurt by mobile, I have three recommendations to get you started:
Get Prepared for Mobile Search
First of all, I recommend you develop a fully responsive website that brings best browsing experience to mobile device shoppers before you optimize your website for mobile search.
Online users use mobile search more and more for information. It’s important to deliver the availability and uniqueness of your products to your target buyers.
If you run a known retail store, make sure you have one page dedicated to the location of your retail stores. Mobile searchers often a combination of store name and “locations” or a specific location name as search queries. This is especially important if you are not the only store that offers a product that the user wants.
Review Pricing Strategies
Consumers, especially Gen Xers and Yers, use their smartphones in retail stores to compare prices and are likely to change the mind but to buy in a digital store because of the lower price. If your products mainly target Gen Xers and Yers, you should conduct online research and review your pricing strategy.
If you can not lower the price to match that of an online store, consider offering something unique such as “buy 1 get 1 free” gift.
Utilize Mobile to Push Physical Store Promotions
Make mobile marketing part of your marketing mix even if you didn’t sell products online. Offer incentives for them to come in to your physical store. For example, location-based mobile advertising might be able to help attract more traffic into your store.