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How to marry mobile with location for bricks-and-mortar advantage: Swrve exec

NEW YORK – A Swrve executive at Mobile Marketing Summit: Wearables and Holiday Focus 2015 advised retailers with a strong bricks-and-mortar presence to leverage location-based targeting such as geofencing and beacons to drive consumers in-store and prevent their stores from becoming showrooming locations.

During the session, Swrve: Location Meets Context: Geofence Your Mobile Retail Marketing, the executive offered examples of some brands’ successful geofencing efforts and highlighted how bricks-and-mortar can still offer advantages over purchasing from online retailers. Marketers must leverage consumers’ constant connectivity to best use geolocation to send relevant messages to the right target users.

“We as consumers are mobile the whole time,” said Hugh Reynolds, co-founder of Swrve, San Francisco. “We’re incredibly attached to our phones.”

Mobile Marketer organized the Mobile Marketing Summit: Wearables and Holiday Focus 2015.

Transforming advantages
Retailers must use both offline and in-store methods to drive sales and customer traffic by leveraging geo-location functionalities. If brands eschew using mobile to send relevant offers or introductory messages to consumers, they run the risk of losing out on revenue to Internet conglomerates such as Amazon.

“For a retail brand that has a commitment to physical location and has stores, how do they compete against the Amazon delivery model?” Mr. Reynolds said. “How do you turn your physical location into an advantage rather than having it as a disadvantage?”

While using mobile is important, location-based targeting is timely. Brands must be using this tactic to the best of their abilities as a differentiating point from online retailers, who cannot attract shoppers as readily.

If they do not, they may inadvertently turn their bricks-and-mortar stores into showrooming locations. Consumers may only visit to see a product in real life, but will turn to their smartphone to find cheaper prices online and make a purchase from their device.

One advantage that bricks-and-mortar stores have is that they can tell much more about an individual who walks in and interacts with associates than an online retailer can tell about a first-time, random user.

As store associates may be able to help offer a more customized experience and consequently drive sales, marketers’ primary concern should be driving that foot traffic in the first place.

Brand examples
Mr. Reynolds singled out several brands that have done an exemplary job at implementing geofencing to drive sales. He commended American Eagle Outfitters, a retailer that sought to increase revenue in its factory outlets by targeting shoppers on mobile.

The brand sent messages to consumers immediately upon entering the factory mall parking lot. Consequently, American Eagle saw average sales increase by almost three times as much, proving that getting consumers into your store first is an imperative sales strategy (see story).

“It worked pretty incredibly well,” Mr. Reynolds said.

Once consumers arrive in-store, iBeacons are the next step of the sales equation. If a customer is on the fourth floor of a Macy’s department store, geofences will not be able to tell if he or she is in fact on the fourth floor, or the second.

However, iBeacons can pinpoint a mobile user’s location and then send relevant coupons or offers corresponding to the consumers’ proximity to a display. This strategy will likely gain more traction as the holiday season approaches and consumers begin shopping for gifts and comparing prices.

“We have to do what we do in a mindful fashion and we can’t be the brand that’s the laggard,” Mr. Reynolds said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely, editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York