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BFS Capital Blog

Is Your Retail Business Ready for Mobile and Technology Trends?

March 27, 2015

As technology changes the way we shop, it is becoming more and more critical for retail businesses to get online and go mobile.

Did you know that 80% of internet users are using their mobile phones to search online? This shift in consumer behavior is a game changer and if you’re not ready for it, your retail store is going to get left far behind. Bringing your store to the online and mobile markets doesn’t mean you’re getting rid of everything else. Instead, it allows you to supplement your current business initiatives and makes it easier for your retail business to effectively compete in this competitive digital age. Here are a few mobile and technology trends that are changing the retail industry.

Back to Mobile Basics

It seemed as if mobile marketing and retailing happened overnight and everyone was trying to jump in on the action. But there’s the problem. Businesses started to realize the importance of going mobile and dove right in with the trend without doing enough research and preparation. Online sales growth continues to outpace sales in physical stores but when websites have huge hiccups, like Best Buy during Black Friday of last year, it can be a major setback.

A great mobile site for your retail shop was once just a competitive advantage. Now, with Google’s recent announcement that mobile-ready websites will have an advantage in the search results starting on April 21st, having a fully-optimized mobile site is an absolute necessity. If your e-commerce site is not mobile-ready, now is the time to optimize it.

Clearly, mobile certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so retail businesses should take a step back, evaluate their mobile efforts, and design mobile sites mobile sites with their consumers in mind. Here are some mobile optimization tips to get your website ready for Google’s upcoming algorithm change.

Mobile SEO Checklist Infographic from Ignite Visibility

Source: Mobile SEO Checklist Infographic by Ignite Visibility

Digital Technologies In Store

For online retailers, it’s always been easy to acquire data about their customers. You can track almost anything online – where your shoppers are located, what they searched or clicked through to get to your site, what other products they might be interested in, and sometimes even what stops them from completing a purchase.

For brick-and-mortar retailers, it’s not as easy to gather that kind of data. But now you see companies, like Apple, introducing technologies that might bridge the data gap. Along with a few other startups, they’ve introduced sensors that can be placed around physical stores that track and trigger different actions on smartphones when they are within a certain distance from each sensor. This kind of technology can help physical retailers to optimize their store layouts, pricing, and ad campaigns.

Omni-Channel Shopping

Consumers are looking to move freely across channels. They are creating their own way of shopping and the evolution of these practices will only happen in unpredictable ways. Consumers today are more connected than they have ever been and they are taking full advantage of it. To customers, multichannel shopping is a time and money saver. They’re able to browse a store’s inventory, research a product that they’re interested in, and make a purchase all from the tips of their fingers. If it makes sense for your business model, you should consider if your retail store needs a mobile app.

Providing a fluid and effortless experience to consumers will strengthen loyalties and encourage them to shop with you again in the future.

Purchase Online, Pick Up in Store

In-store pickups is one of the most convenient additions to the retail industry. A study done by A.T. Kearney found that, overall, consumers prefer in-store pickup over home delivery. Apart from the clear benefit of being able to take home products immediately, it offers a sense of reliability and trust that consumers may not be able to find from strictly online businesses.

This feature, adopted by big retailers such as Macy’s and Best Buy, is targeted more towards the consumers who are looking to save time and money.

Purchase Digitally, Get It Delivered to Your Door

Even before more advanced technology becomes available in the near future, there are some technology trends that are already gaining ground today.

For example, there have been virtual grocery stores in Korea since 2012. Consumers can shop in these virtual stores by using their smart phones to scan QR codes on groceries and have their purchases delivered to their homes. And they can do all this while waiting for the subway to take them to work!

Closer to home, Amazon Dash is a new technology that allows consumers to order products from their home with the push of a button. People can now place an Amazon Dash button for laundry detergent near their washing machine, for example. When their detergent runs low, they simply press the button and Amazon will ship the product to their door.

The majority of consumers use both physical and digital stores to make a purchase. So, the bottom line is this: it’s not about choosing to either go digital or stay physical; it’s about the two coexisting for greater success. The shopping experience for customers is a journey across multiple platforms and channels. There is no question that every retailer should be adopting these trends, but making sure that your business is prepared and equipped for these changes is most important.