This article was originally written for, and appeared in, Fashion’s Collective (www.fashionscollective.com)
In mobile, as with any new and engaging medium, the rush to create the newest bright shiny object is the natural inclination. Mobile application functions designed to leverage location recognition, camera-enablement, accelerometers, and instantaneous communication have provided entertainment and engagement for shoppers. Functions like GPS-triggered proactive communications, location-based check-in, QR code scanning, etc. provide that bright shiny object appeal, but also provide retailers with the tools to measure and glean insights in terms of how shoppers interact and behave in store. The ability to illuminate the black box of the in-store experience can be facilitated by mobile devices and applications. A glimpse into a prototypical shopper engagement lifecycle through various mobilized touch points produces a wealth of valuable information on in-store behaviors and the measurability of the effectiveness of the store interaction.
Measuring the Efficacy of Brand Communications
Measuring the efficacy of communications designed to drive store traffic has historically been an exercise in extrapolation. With the advent of LBS apps like Foursquare and Facebook Places, the concept of store check-in allows marketers to more efficiently close loop on the effectiveness of such messaging because check-in confirms the intended behavior has occurred. The check-in is a powerful trigger in the in-store mobile engagement model. It alerts the retailer that a shopper has entered one of their stores and provides an opportunity to reward that shopper with loyalty program credit for their visit or perhaps push a time-sensitive promotion to incent positive purchase behaviors. In the near future, many retailers will begin to accept mobile promotional offer redemption at point of sale, which will provide increased measurability of the success of their mobile communications.
Measuring Product Popularity
Bar code and QR code scanning capabilities in branded apps or third party apps, like ShopSavvy or RedLaser, have become fundamental functionality. The power of allowing shoppers to conduct research and solicit feedback from their social sphere through the scanning trigger instills consumer confidence to drive positive purchase behaviors at the brick and mortar level. Again, however, this only tells one half of the story. The insights retailers collect through the analysis of scan behaviors provides measurable data on product popularity. Armed with this behavioral data, regional and district level management can make educated decisions on product placement in-store, and buyers at the corporate level can leverage trends analysis in popularity to guide sourcing and buying decisions with a more educated perspective.
Measuring Store Performance
In the e-Commerce arena, the concept of site encounter surveys through providers like ForeSee or product experience feedback via shopper-generated reviews have provided insights into how to improve site performance based on the quality of product. Additionally, store surveys have existed in a manual format for decades to solicit feedback on the shopper store experience. Mobile, however, represents a medium capable of collecting instantaneous commentary on store performance and empowering retailers with mobile focus group analytics. Through GPS coordinate tracking capabilities embedded in mobile apps, sensors can identify that a shopper who has subscribed to the retailers branded app is leaving a store and can trigger a solicitation to participate in a short survey about their experience. This instantaneous feedback loop provides authentic performance analysis and supplies regional and district level management the analytics required to make improvements.
In our haste to create the next new bright shiny object in mobile application design and development, focus should be given to analyzing shopper behavior in terms of how they engage with the brand as well as with product at the store level. Mobile devices and apps provide the ability to gain insights that drive improvements in-store, where the magic of the retail experience occurs.