Right through the second half of the 20th century, till date, the Retail industry has been one of the most marketing savvy one. It’s well known that the Marketing budgets of companies in this sector are huge, and comprise a major part of their Operating Costs.
The reason for this is not hard to guess. By the inherent nature of the industry, Retail storefronts are heavy on Capital Investment. In addition to the Real estate costs, Visual Merchandising costs and the costs of maintaining a well-trained staff at the stores makes it all a costly affair.
The only way to recover such high expenses and achieve better margins, is to maximize Marketing budgets. This helps increase the buzz about the stores and attract better footfalls – the term used to define number of people who visit the store over a fixed period of time like a day, week, month or year.
Time and again, Retail companies have tried to increase footfalls in various ways. One is familiar with the innumerable glossy mailers, with attractive imagery and enticing messages that are mailed to us frequently. While this was effective 10 years ago, with increasing adoption of the same, prospects began to avoid these mailers. It’s not rare to find several such unopened mailers on many an Executive’s desk. Which is why, the trend then shifted towards Electronic Direct Mailers or EDMs. Basically – emails with a whole lot of imagery and ad-like look and feel. “If they are on the PC, catch them on the PC” seemed to be the mantra. However, in exactly the same way, EDMs too can pile up on an Executive’s Inbox and not be read for months together.
Now, with people spending a lot of time on their mobiles and smart phones, will retailers make the same mistake – bombarding their mobiles with useless emails and voicemails? Some people may still do so. But for those who like to conduct their business intelligently, it’s time to step back and understand why that will not work.
Retailers often forget that in today’s busy world, where people juggle one or more jobs, along with their personal and family lives, it’s hard to find time to read Marketing material no matter how attractive they are. Add to this the fact that – distances, frequent fuel hikes, crowds at retails storefronts, and shopping fatigue – makes a lot of people averse to visiting retail storefronts. Customers now like to “be led” or “be directed quickly” into buying what they want. In such a scenario, Mobile eCommerce comes as a salvo, or solution.
Using the various features and technologies that a mobile phone is capable of, one can entice prospective customers into their retail stores and increase footfalls. While such campaigns are very effective in industries like Leather, Textiles, Books, Sporting Goods, etc., it can also be used in other industries like Food, electronic goods as well.
Drawing on what various retailers are doing today, a small campaign is suggested below. Based on the unique nature of one’s business, this can be customized, as relevant.
Step 1: Send an SMS about your new/old store, with links to your website
Step 2: On the website (optimized for a mobile), encourage customers to register by giving their contact information and also indicate buying preferences. Such registrants will be called members, allotted a membership number, and become eligible for discounts. This is more efficient than having customers visit your store, and then receive a physical card.
Step 3: Provide IM support on your website, from your Helpdesk team. Alternately, one can provide a Toll free number that customers can call in to have a discussion.
Step 4: Send SMS and VoiceMails to announce arrival of new items, and offer discounts for members only. Set a time limit of 1 week or 2 weeks, with specific timings in a day to avoid crowding and create “˜exclusive displays’, when one can shop.
Step 5: Follow up with an email, which has clear links to the new arrivals (the products basically) with photos of actual items that will be sold. This makes it a sure fire method to entice people.
Step 6: Using GPS based softwares, direct prospects to your store, whenever they are in your vicinity.
Once such campaigns have been executed a couple of times, and customers are happy with what they are getting, footfalls are sure to increase, along with loyalty. End of the day, it’s good to remember that Mobile eCommerce is not merely the ability to make purchases using a Mobile, but it’s about creating better customer engagement using the mobile phone as a tool.
About the Author: This article was written by Krish Kash, he is a Marketing Manager and technology blogger specializing in mobile app development and mobile Commerce.