Connecting to Shoppers in the Mobile Marketplace

by Matt Klassen on November 22, 2012

Things used to be so simple for retailers, as until recently consumers had only two channels to access your brick-and-mortar retail location: either visit the store itself or shop online. With the proliferation of mobile devices, however, customers now have multiple channels through which they expect to access your business, meaning that even while they’re in your store customers are using their mobile devices to find products, find the best deals, and find out whether it’s worth their while to simply buy from your competitor.

This paradigm shift, as many do, comes just as retailers have finally got the hang of online shopping, meaning that unfortunately now simply having an online presence will no longer be sufficient to remain competitive.

For Wal Mart this shift has meant a quick adjustment in how it delivers and receives retail data to and from its customers, a shift that now sees the retail giant testing the mobile waters. Simply put, while online shopping is certainly here to stay Wal Mart has realized that the traditional shopper has become more technologically advanced as well, resulting in a mobile app that guides customers around any of the company’s 4,000 U.S. stores, points out bargains, and helping customers find the products they’re looking for.

There’s no question that mobile technology has changed the way we shop. Customers now have instant access to coupons, specials, sales, and deals not only from their desktop at home, but from the smartphone in their pocket. This means that savvy mobile customers are always on the lookout for the best deals even when they’re inside your store, having no compunction about purchasing from your competitors even as they wander your aisles.

In fact, comparison shopping has never been easier, as the online shopper is no longer tethered to their home computer, meaning that consumers’ purchasing decisions are often made on the fly in response to what they see in front of the in real time. So if someone comes into your store shopping for a piece of furniture, lets say, they will test it out, talk to a sales rep, check out the price…and tap their smartphone to get a better deal from your local rival.

Its here that Wal Mart has decided to innovate, and I would guess they will be better for it. The latest version of Wal Mart’s iPhone and Android apps has a clever in-store feature, one that is geared towards customers who have already walked through the doors of any of the company’s many retail locations. The app is designed to flow seamlessly with a person’s in-store experiences, helping them navigate the store, find products, and most of all, help keep their dollars in Wal Mart’s coiffeurs, even if what they’re looking for isn’t in store and only a quick click away at a competitors’ site.

So once again let’s say you’re shopping for a red bicycle for your child, yet all that your local Wal Mart store has in stock is a blue one. A few quick clicks on your Wal Mart mobile app and the red bike is purchased.

But that’s not to say online shopping is going anywhere, as mobile retail apps such as this are certainly not either/or options. Instead, apps such as this are simply recognition that mobile has opened another channel to customers who may already be in your store, allowing savvy retailers one more way to help customers find and purchase the products they sell.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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