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mobile-featuresFor some time now, I’ve been advocating for brick-and-mortar retailers to embrace the inevitable challenge that is consumer showrooming.  After all, this behavior is (and always has been) the norm.  The only difference today is that consumers virtually jump from place to place instead of physically driving from store to store.  It saves time and money – two things that are beyond important to today’s consumers.

Retailers that don’t embrace showroooming are sealing their doom by essentially telling customers they don’t care about their freedom to choose.  Seriously, folks? Informed consumers are going to shop around anyway.  And an informed consumer is the kind of customer to strive for, as they generate more return visits and serve as a foundation to a loyal customer base.

But let’s talk for a minute about some more disruptive techniques that can be used by retailers that embrace showrooming.  These techniques can steal the eyes, ears and minds of customers from other not-so-savvy retailers.

So we all know that most of your customers have a mobile device.  And most of these devices have geolocation capabilities. You also know where your stores are located, and you can tell when a mobile user fires up your app (or your mobile site) inside one of your stores.  If you’re not doing this, it should be on your wish list for this year (especially prior to the Holiday season).

…all quite possible by using a process I call “ePoaching”.

In doing traditional market research, you know where your competitors are, right? Wouldn’t you like to know when a potential customer is in a competitors store?   And wouldn’t it be nice to offer them an incentive to leave their store and go to yours?  It’s all quite possible by using a process I call “ePoaching”.

For example, let’s assume I’m a loyal Home Depot customer.  I’m in the Lowes store across the street and fire up the Home Depot app to price check.  The Home Depot app knows I’m in a Lowes store and immediately offers me an 10% discount to leave and come to their store – as long as I use the discount in the next hour.  Not a bad approach, right?

ePoaching is a different approach to competition.  While it could be considered “bad form” for a Home Depot employee to stand outside of Lowe’s and hand out discount coupons, the “ePoaching” interaction is initiated by the consumer who are running an app.  This is not bad form, simply smart mobile marketing to buyers who are in need during a moment of decision.

Many sites also have the ability to share “wish lists” with people via email address.  So why not build functionality into your mobile site that lets shoppers share with you that wishlist they created on a competitor’s site?  Create a custom email address that is bound to a user account and do the cost comparisons for the shopper.  Not only that, you could also guide shoppers directly to item locations with the store with a simple store map and aisle information when showing comparisons.

This is true one-step comparison shopping – ideal for customers who enjoy comparing, but don’t have the time to do so. It’s also ideal for retailers, who get can use this interaction time to offer alternative products, up-sell, cross-sell, or offer expert advice, if needed.  Oh, and “ePoaching” would work hand-in-hand with this, too.

More than 90% of consumers keep their mobile devices within arms reach at all times.  This is all the more reason for brands with large brick-and-mortar presences to develop applications that can fully leverage the capability of mobile devices.  If you undertake an effort to develop an effective mobile app that gives your consumer base relevant information in an appropriate context, you have effectively put your brand within arms reach of anyone.

Are you truly taking advantage of what mobile has to offer? By leveraging information already available on consumer mobile devices, new opportunities flourish. There’s never been a time like this.  The capabilities offered by mobile can truly change a consumer’s mind regardless of location – or should I say based on location?