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Express exec: Retailers need to tie loyalty into mobile initiatives

ORLANDO, FL – An Express executive who spoke at International CTIA stressed that retailers need to use mobile to take their loyalty efforts to the next level.

Panelists during the “Retail Revolution: Savvy Shoppers Go Mobile” session discussed case studies on how retailers and brands are using social networking and loyalty programs to reach consumers. The panel was moderated by Andrea Farris, mobile retail lead at Accenture.

“I can tell you our mobile site users are on our mobile site just as long as they’re on our Web site,”  said Eric Brandt, director of ecommerce operations at Express. “And they’re on our app a little more than half as long.

“They’re very engaged – they have the phone in their hand and wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, when the thought to buy something comes, I want to sell it to them.”

Consumer loyalty
According to Mr. Brandt, it is all about loyalty.

When brands and retailers tie in loyalty to their mobile component, it becomes an incredible tool that lets them market one-to-one with their customer.

“I think that you have to get hold of your marketing group,” said Eric Brandt, director of ecommerce operations at Express. “The more channels your customers are using, the more money they’re going to spend.

“The more engaged you have your customer in your brand, the more you’re going to build more overall value that’s going to flow throughout your brand,” he said. “You have to get your executive staff passed the view of a single channel.”

According to John Jones, vice president and executive creative director of retail at R/GA, when consumers began scanning products in-store, it created fear in the retail industry.

“Part of it for retailers is what do they do with these people who are doing product comparisons,” Mr. Jones said. “This forces retailers to do that active process to find out what their competitor’s prices are and make sure they’re competitive.

Mr. Jones suggested that retailers make the in-store experience seamless for customers.

The executive suggests making sure that there are not a lot of steps that it will take for consumers to complete a transaction.

“You want to make sure that the technology that they’re using reduces the amount of steps,” Mr. Jones said. “We want to encourage interaction with the products.”

Retailer applications and mobile sites enable consumers to make much more educated purchases, per Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Digby, Austin, TX.

Mobile creates another opportunity for retailers to engage with folks.

“We saw some retailers do a cut and past from their Web site to their mobile site,” Mr. Lowden said. “What we stress is for companies to look at mobile as a strategic channel on its own.

“The consumer knows what they want to buy in your mobile site or app,” he said. “You have to give them the opportunity to purchase something in 60-seconds.

“You have to make an elegant and simple solution.”

According to Alex Muller, CEO/cofounder of GPShopper, it is not about the consumer being savvy anymore. It is about the relationship the consumer has with retailers being savvy.

“Retailers have an opportunity to make a two-way conversation with customers,” Mr. Muller said, “It all comes back to your brand and the user experience.”

Currently, more companies are using mobile bar codes to drive consumers in-store.

Mobile bar codes provided additional content for users – whether it’s a video they can watch to learn more about the product or a coupon that they receive when they scan it.

“A couple of years ago, consumers were empowered by having to talk to the salesperson,” said Mike Wehrs, CEO/president of Scanbuy, New York. “Now you got 3 billion people on this planet with a camera phone and they can take a photo or scan a bar code and find out all kinds of relevant information about the product.”

Final Take