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Engage In-Store: Creative Ways to Build Shopper Loyalty Through Mobile Devices


According to PEW Research, in Fall 2012, nearly half of US adults owned a smartphone or tablet. The latest from eMarketer indicates that the number of mobile shoppers continues to rise.   It’s no wonder that images like this will soon become more commonplace in the retail environment.

In fact, I took this photo with my smartphone, last Sunday, at my local grocery store.  This cart belonged to a 30-something male who was using his Ipad to help him shop.

I used this opportunity to strike up a conversation with him (i.e. do a bit of impromptu shopper research)

Me:  “How long have you been doing this type of shopping with your iPad?”

Shopper:  “At least 2-3 months.  It helps me keep track of purchases I make and items I run out of during the week.  I also use it to plan my weekly meals.”

Me:  “Do you use coupons?”

Shopper:  “I honestly don’t have time to keep track of and clip coupons.  I’ve tried it in the past but it’s too much work.”

Me:  “Is your iPad connected to the wireless network here in the store?”

Shopper:  “No.  I actually subscribed to my own connection, since WiFi isn’t available everywhere I need it.”

This encounter lead me to wonder…how can grocery retailers use this opportunity to increase customer loyalty and engagement?

Why not offer free WiFi to customers… and take it a step further?
Once you’ve captured their email address (via opt-in), get interactive through their mobile device by…

    • Issuing automatic coupons
    • Offering additional sales items (not available to the general public)
    • Sharing ideas for meals and recipes using in-store products
    • Integrating a reward point program (if not already in play) that encourages them to return and shop your store again
    • Creating an app that helps them in and out of the store (whether it’s with in-season shopping lists, organizing coupons, menu planning, etc.)  

I know it sounds a little “Jetsons”-like but that’s what shoppers yearn for…more inspiration while grocery shopping.

And considering that today’s shoppers are usually pressed for time, offer them handy shortcuts and create the innovation they need, in-store, using the tools they already carry with them.

Or, what about those visiting a favorite QSR?  While dining tends to be a social experience, I can’t help but notice the number of people that go to a QSR alone and use their tablet or smartphone as their companion.Attractive Cheerful Asian Indian woman Sending Reading SMS at Ca

They’ve just ordered food and are physically in your location.  You’ve got their attention.  So why not use this time to offer them an improved overall restaurant experience?

Many of the large QSR chains already offer free WiFi, but what are they doing to further engage these customers?  Some ideas…

  • Unique podcasts/ programming that’s available when dining-in
  • Access to exclusive targeted coupons
  • Loyalty card already built into an app 

As mobile devices continue to become more and more mainstream, simply offering a WiFi connection is not enough to create a relationship with your consumers.

Companies need to reach further, utilize this valuable means of access to buyers… and create a true consumer connection.  One that gets them excited about visiting your location and gives them a reason to come back more often.

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