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Top 10 mobile in-store activations from the first half of 2014

Pepsi, Unilever and Sephora are among the top brands succeeding in a hyper-competitive environment whereby brands can no longer compete on price alone, and have been able to differentiate themselves with in-store experiences that inspire a new level of customer loyalty.

Mobile is empowering shoppers more than ever before and presents a causal increase in choices which has resulted in higher customer demands and expectations. As brands and retailers seek to help consumers define their own shopping experiences, marketers have changed the way they engage with in-store shoppers by integrating revolutionary mobile solutions during the first half of 2014.

As the holidays approach, in-store mobile touch points will be critical differentiators in enticing shoppers before and during purchase decisions. Here are the top 10 mobile in-store activations from the first half of 2014, in alphabetical order.

Bon-Ton drives in-store gift card redemptions with mobile offer
In response to observing that most retailers do not offer any mobile integration for gift cards, Bon-Ton department stores gave customers that redeemed a gift card in-store on New Year’s Day an extra 10 percent off their purchase via its mobile app.

Retailers are on the cutting edge when it comes to mobile gift cards, but most merchants are still lagging in the space even as the opportunities take off thanks to Bluetooth LE, growing availability of NFC, social gift cards and Apple’s AirDrop. Bon-Ton’s high customer response rate to the promotion exemplifies that the digitalization of gift cards and rewards is an in-demand mobile feature that won’t cease.

Coca-Cola experiments with smart fridges to bridge in-store, mobile engagement
Coca-Cola Australia tested a new type of interactive fridge that leverages augmented reality, facial recognition, social media and mobile to dole out relevant offers and content to specific consumers in-store.

The technology let marketers push out coupons, promotional material and games based on data that is gleamed from the appliance, such as a shopper’s emotion. Coca-Cola can then theoretically push out different offers to consumers based on demographic information that the fridges’ facial recognition features are picking up, such as age, gender or emotion.

In support of a well-rounded omni-channel strategy, the soda giant’s initiative is a great example of the growing momentum in mobile to extend the in-store shopping experience beyond smartphones and tablets into other types of devices.

Lowe’s strives for competitive advantage with life-size augmented reality experience
The Lowe’s Holoroom is an immersive experience which enables shoppers to see how products will look in their bathroom using augmented reality and a specially designed tablet. The home improvement guru recognized the difficulty consumers have when trying to visualize a completed room or share their vision with another person, two hurdles which can cause added frustration and deter consumers from actually starting a project.

While Lowe’s is not the first home improvement retailer to leverage augmented reality and mobile to help customers visualize remodeling projects, the Holoroom takes the concept a step further with a more immersive experience. Competitor IKEA launched an augmented reality mobile app as well that enabled users to capture items from its 2014 catalog to see how they would look in their home, but did not offer a truly live experience.

Pepsi’s in-store displays deliver mobile offer with 48pc conversion rate
Pepsi Bottling saw a conversion rate of 48 percent on a  $5-off offer for hockey tickets that was accessible when in-store shoppers scanned or tapped their smartphones against display units.

These results are for the first in-market pilot test of reusable display shells that have QR code and near-field communication technologies built in. The program, which ran during the first quarter of 2014 in the Minneapolis area, delivered a 2.81 percent engagement rate and a 1.34 percent response rate. The consumer was instructed via an image on the transportation asset to ‘tap or snap’ either an NFC logo or a QR code.

Pepsi delivered targeted content in the form of an interactive display making use of reusable transportation items already ubiquitous in the retail environment and that Pepsi already owns and uses every day. While much of the focus has been on in-store apps and the use of hardware such as iBeacons to deliver hyperlocal content, the Pepsi campaign shows how brands can enable point-of-sale engagements using assets they already own.

RadioShack looks to spark sales with in-store mobile integration
In its first custom concept store in Manhattan, RadioShack leveraged mobile technology to enhance the in-store experience with the hopes of spurring better sales for the company.

The interactive store let consumers discover new products in a new way featuring a speaker wall that could be controlled by in-store tablets to help consumers get a more in-depth feel for the different offerings, and interactive displays that allowed consumers to compare products such as headphones, remote control toys and camera models.

According to a recent Accenture survey, 40 percent of shoppers said the experience retailers need to improve most is in-store, while only 16 percent said online. Additionally, one in five U.S. shoppers plans to increase their in-store purchases in the future. It is obvious RadioShack is working hard to facilitate play in their retail environment. The challenge for all retailers that dedicate more of their space to interaction areas is converting interaction into purchase.

Sephora augmented reality mirror reflects sales potential of digital sampling
Sephora’s Milan location was the first to launch a new 3D augmented reality mirror by ModiFace that simulates cosmetics on a user’s face photo-realistically in real-time, with expectations to transform how women shop for cosmetics.

The augmented reality technology, which was first debuted at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, expects to make color testing easier by simulating makeup products on a user’s face to show what they would look like in real-time and without having to upload a photo. Created by ModiFace, the technology is also being introduced  to standalone retail kiosks equipped with a touchscreen monitor and camera, as well as a mobile application that can be used on tablets at beauty counters or on consumers’ own handheld devices.

Deciding between beauty products can be daunting, as traditional experimentation consists of applying different products, removing them, and then repeating the process. In traditional, 2D try-on, the goal is that interacting and virtually trying on makeup or skin products will lead to an increase in sales. In many cases, this works well, especially with mobile apps. However, in retail settings, 2D can be slow and cumbersome since you have to wait, pose for a photo and wait for the result. Sephora’s mirror-like real-time 3D virtual simulation will be the ultimate marketing tool.

ShopRite streamlines in-store checkout via customer-facing app
ShopRite piloted a program that leveraged mobile scanning to simplify the checkout experience for consumers through the Mobile Scan app that saves consumers time by removing the need to wait in line for a cashier. Consumers can buy groceries on their own schedule by simply scanning the bar code on products to add them to their cart.

The grocery vertical has been experimenting with a number of different ways to leverage mobile, as retailers like ShopRite have been investing in personal point-of-sale systems to improve the shopping experience. Now most shoppers are already walking in the door with their own POS device – their smartphone. This kind of application decreases hardware costs and allow grocers to communicate in a personal way with each of their shoppers.

Unilever’s Knorr powers in-store giveaway with mobile
Knorr brand targeted Hispanic shoppers via an in-store promotion linking mobile to a World Cup soccer toy figure giveaway, which involved placing vending machines in participating Northgate Markets. The glass front of the vending machine functioned much like a mobile device’s touch screen.

After purchasing Knorr chicken flavor bouillon at a Northgate Market, a consumer would type a code from the receipt and his or her mobile phone number into the Knorr vending machine. The vending machine then dispensed a two-inch toy figure, one of three World Cup soccer players.  As the Spanish-speaking population in the United States grows and gains power, marketers are findings ways to target and track it.

Wheaties hands over packaging design via MapMyFitness partnership
In an example of how mobile and social are disrupting traditional packaging design strategies, General Mills’ Wheaties let mobile consumers choose the next athlete to appear on the cereal brand’s packaging by logging workouts on MapMyFitness, a social network for fitness enthusiasts.

While Wheaties’ association with health and fitness goes back a long time, by leveraging mobile – a popular way for MapMyFitness users to track their workouts and engage with others on the platform – the cereal brand initiated a conversation maintained and owned by consumers themselves. While brands continue to experiment on best practices to reach the mobile consumer, many have found success in placing messaging in and around the context or by actually becoming part of the context, and General Mill’s brand architecture does will in constantly questioning, “what is our purpose?”

Social network use has reached a point of near ubiquity, and the smartest marketers follow their audiences. Brands who create campaigns centered around social are simply positioning themselves for the greatest levels of success.Creating and utilizing unique campaigns for the channels at their disposal is a marketing best practice; generating engagement is all about delivering relevant content to an audience – segmenting the audience based on their preferred channels only stands to strengthen the likelihood of success

Zatarain’s is first CPG brand to leverage beacons in-store
McCormick & Co.’s Zatarain’s claims to have been the first consumer packaged goods brand leveraging beacon technology to engage directly with shoppers while they are inside a retail location.

The in-app beacon campaign enabled shoppers to receive grocery list reminders and loyalty points from the food and spice brand on their mobile phones. The network leverages beacons to recognize when consumers are nearby a retail location and works with shopping apps to alert users to relevant shopping-related content on their phones when they need it.

Users experienced an ad encouraging them to try one of the brand’s items, enabled them to tap to get recipes or find the Zatarain’s section inside the store. In 2014, the shopping ecosystem has many relationships with the consumer. And as CPG brands already have robust relationships with their consumers in-store, so do the apps.

It is a two-way conversation that has been happening in the aisles since smartphones and shopping apps became popular and beacons enhance the experience for everyone in the ecosystem by creating an unprecedented opportunity for marketers; for consumers in that they’re receiving highly relevant offers at the point-of-sale; and for retailers because it increases the overall basket size.

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