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In recent years, the advent of mobile technology has changed most aspects of the retail industry. From marketing to point-of-sale (POS), the customer experience is no longer fixed to one particular location. Even within a brick-and-mortar store, mobile retail is transforming how customers shop. Savvy retailers are developing new marketing and sales strategies to make the most of new technologies.
Mobile payment continues to offer retailers and customers flexibility and convenience. In 2016, the mobile payment trend continues, but with a few updates. Mobile wallets and wearable payment technology are becoming more popular, and retailers are adapting by employing more flexible POS systems that can accommodate a wider variety of payment options.
Wearable technology, such as smartwatches, digital eyewear, and health trackers, is increasingly commonplace. To stay current in 2016, retailers are integrating wearable tech into their current retail environment. Upcoming trends include sending notifications to wearable devices that alert customers within a certain geographic area of sales or special offers and offering additional product information through digital eyewear.
For e-commerce businesses, streaming video is no longer optional. Research shows that customers are far more likely to purchase a product after watching a video, making it crucial for retailers to include mobile-friendly video on their e-commerce sites. Video streaming has been a part of e-commerce for some time, but mobile technology can now consistently support streaming video, making it a realistic sales and marketing tool for all retailers.
Mobile loyalty programs that reward customers for frequent shopping are being gamified to create unique customer experiences. Gamification involves engaging customers with challenges and rewarding them for accomplishing particular tasks. For example, smartphone loyalty apps can reward customers for checking in at a store a specific number of times or challenge customers to accept a limited time special discount or special offer.
Mobile technology is now advanced enough to provide rich virtual reality (VR) customer experiences. E-commerce retailers can use VR to create stronger brand awareness by giving customers a tour of the “store” and allowing them to virtually try items. In-store VR experiences also encourage shoppers to engage with products in new ways.
Mobile technology is facilitating the integration of brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retail elements. Using smart devices, customers can now get both the sensory experience of a brick-and-mortar store with the ease of e-commerce. Mobile retail allows customers to look at products in real life and buy immediately or at a later time. Customers can also access additional inventory for delivery to the store or their homes.
Increasingly accurate language recognition software is transforming the possibilities for e-commerce and customer engagement. For e-commerce retailers, a voice search can allow consumers to enter product search terms up to five times more quickly than typing. There are many applications for brick-and-mortar businesses, too. Using voice search on a store’s mobile app, a customer could search for in-store items as he or she is on the way to the store, streamlining the in-store experience.
Personalization is evolving with the pace of technology. Consumers have already become desensitized to obvious personalization tactics, such as automated marketing emails that merely use the customer’s name before proceeding with a template. In 2016, the cutting edge in personalization uses mobile data to provide a truly tailored retail experience. Retailers may use mobile data to display unique content at particular times or locations or provide customized product recommendations.
As new technologies appear and new applications for existing technologies are developed, 2016 will see continued growth in mobile retail. There will be limitless opportunities to reshape the customer experience, making this an exciting time for retail.
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