How to Increase Customer Loyalty This Holiday Season Using WiFi and Mobile App

- 19th Dec 2017

According to PwC, 90% of consumers are likely to shop in store this holiday season. This is good news for store based retailers. However, here’s the catch: While people may still shop in stores, their shopping usually begins online – looking for gift ideas, comparing prices and researching product features . So, it would be a rookie mistake to underestimate the role of mobile devices. The best strategy to drive sales and loyalty this holiday season is to combine the digital and the physical and offer them the best of both worlds.

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The Role of Mobile Devices in Physical Stores

Many shoppers already use their phones to compare prices and products when they’re in the store. Why not use this to your own advantage by providing them with WiFi access and making their experience easier, faster and more personalized? By encouraging them to connect to your WiFi network, you stand to gather a ton of valuable data about your customers – who your most loyal spenders are, how often they visit your store, how long they stay on and what they purchase.

In order to increase loyalty, you can even have them download your branded mobile app. Most savvy retailers would agree that a mobile app is one of the best ways to engage customers both at-location and off location and increase the awareness of their brands. If the mobile app is easy to use, provides information in a timely and relevant way, and makes interacting with you more rewarding, it just makes sense to include it in your strategy.

How to Use WiFi to Incentivize the Download of your Mobile Apps

However, there’s one potential hurdle in implementing this strategy: what will make customers download and use your app in the first place? Simply sticking it on Google Play will obviously not be sufficient.

Here’s where WiFi can help you again. As soon as a visitor walks into your store and connects to your network, he’ll see a captive portal which will contain a link to download the app. You can find creative ways to incentivize the download. For example:

  • Download the app and get 10% off on your first purchase.
  • Pay through the app and and enjoy quick checkout.
  • Shop on our app and pick up in store

How Can a Mobile App Increase In-Store Loyalty

It would be reasonable to ask at this point how an app actually leads to more sales and more frequent return visits. Let’s look at the following points:

  • Send Strategic Push Notifications Through the App

In-app push notifications are one of the cheapest and most effective ways of driving sales numbers upwards. The strength of push notifications lies in their immediacy. The holiday season is already a time of heightened urgency and sensitivity to special offers, and providing a customer with a time-limited coupon, or highlighting the best deals currently available while they are actually entering the store is extremely effective. These call to action-type messages can take various forms and may be tailored in real time depending on factors such as stock levels.

Depending on how widely you implement analytics in your retail operation, the individual nature of push notifications also allows for a high degree of personalization. At a time of year when broadcast and print advertising budgets soar, providing the personal touch is the next best thing to having a sales associate strike up a conversation. To use a slightly oversimplified example, if loyalty program data shows that some customer always buys neckties around December, sending them a coupon for the same is almost certain to get a result. A survey conducted by eMarketer indicates that over 90% of consumers will cash in on at least one discount received over mobile channels in 2018.

  • Apps can Act as Personal Shopping Advisors

Searching an unfamiliar store for as few as half a dozen items can easily mean walking a mile. Incorporating a navigation or product search function in your app can by itself enhance the visitor experience in a store with holiday crowds.

IBM has already demonstrated an app that allows users to point their phones at a shelf containing several similar product lines and immediately receive information like nutritional values, promotions and suggestions on related products. Telling the app that you’re vegan or gluten-free automatically eliminates options that don’t comply.

Even at a technically less demanding level, a store app can make recipe and accessory suggestions, provide links to online videos and reviews and point the customer towards products that can be used in conjunction with what they’re currently viewing, such as alternative gifts. Cross-selling is one objective here, but so is providing app users with a simplified yet more abundant shopping journey.

  • Faster Service/Checkout

Retailers can hire Santa impersonators for December; experienced and trained sales staff not so much. Customers still demand short lines, instant service and rapid checkout, though, and not meeting these expectations can have serious consequences for brand loyalty.

Starbucks came up with a novel solution to streamline their operations during peak times: you can order and pay using their app and collect your order a few minutes later. It even boasts an AI assistant featuring voice recognition. The net result is not only a happier clientele, but greater operational efficiency.

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