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Mobile must fuel decision-making for marketing and retail: Steven Alan exec

During a Mobile Commerce Daily webinar yesterday, an executive from Steven Alan stressed that mobile has to be behind every decision for retailers, or they risk losing effectiveness, as the technology is so pervasive it affects every aspect of marketing.

During the webinar, “Why mobile is the answer to a connected customer experience,” the executive explained that while consumers are constantly on their mobile devices or connected online, it is a serious misstep to assume that the one time of day during which individuals are not using their smartphones is while in stores. In-store and online pushes from retailers need to consider how untethered devices will come into play, whether consumers are searching competitors while at a bricks-and-mortar location or want to chat live with a representative while shopping from their phone.

“If you, as a retailer, are not going to embrace mobile, somebody else is,” said Dawn Trenson, director of ecommerce at apparel and accessories retailer Steven Alan. “So whether you are a multi-brand retailer, a manufacturer or even a homemade seller, if your competitors are doing a good job with paid search and so on, when that customer is Googling, they are going to be introduced to your competitors and they might get the experience they are looking for in their shops.”

The webinar was sponsored by NewStore.

Always thinking mobile
Digital and mobile devices have equipped the consumer with more information than store associates, which has created a wide range of problems for bricks-and-mortar retailers. For instance, when a shopper is looking for more information on a handbag, most online shops can provide the exact measurements but the in-store associate is less likely to know this information.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers need to embrace in-store mobile efforts or risk losing consumers to competitors. Many retailers are trying to get consumers away from their mobile devices and interact with store employees, but this can be a missed opportunity.

For instance, if a retailer cannot provide the information or experience the shopper is looking for while searching on her mobile device, she can be easily swayed to a competitor. Bricks-and-mortar retailers should consider equipping store employees with mobile devices or tablets to better assist the shopper.

In-store and out
Home Depot is a prime example of how to equip the in-store customer with a streamlined experience on mobile. The retailer is cognizant that if shoppers cannot find a specific product in its stores, they can easily find it somewhere else.

With the home improvement retailer being so large in physical size, it is important to help customers find its products. To solve this issue and retain shoppers, Home Depot has developed an inventory system in which users can easily locate a product of interest, while also gaining information about it.

The idea behind always considering mobile goes for any digital ploy as well. For instance, if a retailer or brand installs a live chat on desktop, it needs to consider how this will play out on mobile, as so many users will be accessing it this way.

If the chat is not mobile-optimized, retailers risk losing shoppers due to a negative experience.

“All decisions need to be looked at through the lens of ‘what does this mean for mobile, what does this mean for devices,'” Ms. Trenson said. “As retailers, we have seen some great ROI statistics from vendors that are selling these add-on solutions and immediately everything becomes ‘well, we need to do that because our competitors are doing it.’

“It has become this race to the finish line, but how are those things going to work on a mobile device?” she said. “If you have a great live chat on a product page, does that work how it should when you are using a touchscreen device and on a smaller screen?

“Mobile needs to play into that decision.”