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Are consumers buying from window displays versus going in-store?

Mobile brings new life to window displays

With retailers, brands and marketers using mobile in their marketing mix, the medium has undoubtedly changed the ways that consumers shop, specifically with merchandising and store displays.

Mobile bar codes, SMS calls-to-action and augmented reality in window displays have shifted how consumers buy things online. However, some industry experts say there is a fine line between what consumers are willing to buy on their devices.

“People are still going to go to stores, but the spectrum of what people will buy physically versus what they are comfortable buying virtually has been redefined whether that’s from the couch or outside a store window,” said Shaun Quigley, vice president and digital practice leader at Brunner, Pittsburgh, PA.

“Books and music are easy because those purchases are less emotional. Cars and shoes are a bit harder, though Zappos has proven that even the most personal of tastes can be satisfied through virtual commerce – there are some things you just want to touch,” he said.

Window of opportunity
Mobile bar codes are one way that retailers are taking advantage of mobile.

For example, Converse recently partnered with Journey’s on a mobile bar code initiative that let users shop an exclusive line of Chuck Taylor shoes (see story).

Not only did the QR codes give users an incentive to scan the code, but the codes were also placed prominently on store windows, making users stop in their tracks.

After getting user’s attention with the mobile bar code, consumers might be more inclined to go into a store, which helps retailers drive a ROI from marketing initiatives.

Similarly, Saks Fifth Avenue used mobile bar codes over the holidays to let users either view a video or visit the department store’s mobile site (see story).

However, retailers can do more than just drive sales by placing mobile bar codes on window displays.

For instance, Express recently placed mobile bar codes in its store windows to encourage consumers to sign-up for its new loyalty program (see story).

The QR codes were placed both in store windows and around products in stores. When scanned, users could learn more and sign-up for the loyalty program on the spot.

Mobile bar codes help marketers start a dialogue with new and existing consumers.

By incorporating mobile bar codes into their in-store window displays, brands and retailers are able to engage consumers in an interactive way.

App happy
In addition to QR codes, retailers can take advantage of mobile by promoting commerce-enabled applications.

The consumer already has the brand top of mind when passing by a window and therefore might be more interested in downloading and using an app.

“A window display for retailers is the perfect way for them to directly interact with their customers through mobile,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Digby, Austin, TX.

“The display can showcase the retailer’s branded app and entice consumers by saying ‘download our app and get VIP offers,’” he said.

To get consumers to download the app, a mobile bar code or SMS call-to-action can be used.

In addition to driving an app download, the window displays can use features such as video or social media to get users to further interact with a brand.

Although this tactic is important in getting consumers to come in-store, it is also critical to include it as consumers are leaving a store after the in-store experience. Therefore, mobile calls-to-action should be placed on the inside of window displays that consumers can clearly see.

Additionally, promoting a coupon or deal could be a great way to lure a consumer into a store.

Take Shopkick for instance. The company works with retailers such as Best Buy, Toys R Us and American Eagle Outfitters’ to reward consumers who check-in to the app while in-store.

To let consumers know that a store participates in the program, a Shopkick sticker is placed in store windows, giving users who are familiar with the company an incentive to check-in and shop.

“The app is becoming the new loyalty card that is location-sensitive, able to receive special offers and enable commerce,” Mr. Lowden said.

New in-store experience
With consumers comparison shopping and making impulse decisions, the in-store experience has expanded beyond a bricks-and-mortar location, according to an executive from mobile agency Point Reach.

“Mobile has become an extension of the current in-store shopping experience,” said Perry Pak, media director at Point Reach, Seattle.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to have positive interactions with a brand, building customer base and loyalty,” he said.

“What is important is for brand marketers to think about how they can best meet the changing needs of consumers while driving purchase intent, sales and adoption and a relationship with their brand.”

Therefore, it is essential to use mobile as a way to complement versus compete with the in-store experience. For example, an app that gives users access to reviews, detailed photos and recommendations help shoppers while in-store.

Last year, eBay partnered with Jonathan Adler to let consumers shop window displays that highlighted some of the designer’s favorite items for fall (see story).

Consumers walking past the store could buy products anytime by using the eBay app and scanning sa QR code.

However, some experts say that no matter what incentive a window display offers, consumers will continue to shop in-store.

“Window displays formerly had to have a single message for all visitors – but now the window display marketing can be extended onto the viewer’s mobile device and be personalized for every shopper’s unique need,” said Jason Goldberg, vice president of strategy and customer experience at CrossView, Portland, OR.

“Shoppers with an intent to visit a store will not be dissuaded by a window display after already doing 90 percent of the work to arrive at the store,” he said.

“Window displays are far more useful for driving incremental purchases, influencing future store visits and influencing overall brand perception.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York