While you’re not likely to encounter them yet in central Pennsylvania, some retail store owners have seen the wisdom in catering to smartphone users. Mobiledia reports that some retailers now provide smartphone apps that let shoppers pay for merchandise without going through checkout lines. Other stores have displays at which shoppers can simply scan QR codes to order and pay for products and have them shipped home.
From Cell Phones to Smartphones
We’ve advocated that retail stores should cater to cell phone users, and we’ve highlighted obstacles businesses erect that agitate rather than serve smartphone owners. It’s instructive to see how some retailers are evolving along with cell phone technology.
Mobiledia describes several retail operations at which customers browse as in any store—able to examine products, hold them, and maybe even try them—and then make purchases through apps installed on their smartphones. A customer might pick up the purchased merchandise to take home, or provide a shipping address and receive the products within a few days.
As close to 50% of cell phones in the United States are smartphones and the number is growing fast, retailers who don’t adjust their practices are simply going to lose out. An app that simplifies and accelerates customers’ in-store shopping can also reduce the number of checkout lines and cash registers needed to serve those customers.
Smartphones Transform Retail Spaces
When a retailer embraces smartphone technology, it won’t be just about an app. Businesses that rethink the retail experience may be able to provide a greater variety of products while significantly reducing operating costs.
For example, the retail space can become an “interactive catalog” where shoppers examine real products but use smartphone apps to fill electronic shopping carts and commit payment.
With this model, a show floor requires only one or two instances of each product rather than stacks of identical grab-and-go items. Instead of restocking shelves, workers will pick orders and deliver them to customer pickup desks—the bulk of a retail store’s activity will resemble warehousing, though the customer experience will be only a bit different than it is today.
At Least Do Something
You’re probably not yet ready to transform your retail operation so dramatically. In fact, with only 50% of cell phones being smartphones, such changes would alienate a lot of customers. However, at least do something to engage your smartphone-carrying shoppers. Businesses that delay will become less and less appealing to a population that is enthusiastically embracing this revolutionary technology.
Immix Wireless can help you mobile-enable your marketing and retail operations. Contact us to discuss your specific challenges and learn more about our services.