NATIONAL REPORT — Today’s retailers know the power of the mobile phone when it comes to connecting and communicating with customers, and knowing how consumers utilize mobile to interact with retailers is key to creating a successful mobile strategy.
There are five major groups that customer interaction fall into, according to Charlie Lang, executive vice president of product and marketing at Koupon Media, provider of a digital promotional platform for small-format stores. They are: buying, saving, discovering, paying and communicating.
When it comes to buying, consumers look to either utilize mobile payment with a convenience store, or order ahead. The number of consumers utilizing mobile payment continues to increase, with 59 percent of e-commerce purchases happening via mobile, noted Lang.
“People are spending money and buying from their phones more than ever before, and mobile ordering and order ahead are part of this,” he told Convenience Store News.
When it comes to saving money, offering discounts, coupons and savings when using a mobile app or being part of a loyalty program that runs through a mobile app is an incentive for customers to interact with retailers in this way.
“There are 135 million digital coupon users in the United States,” said Lang, noting that c-stores can deliver coupons through SMS messaging or via a mobile app, and many are tying this into loyalty programs. “Loyalty programs driven from the mobile device continue to grow, and we see a lot of this happening in the c-store space over the last five years.”
Using mobile phones for discovery is centered on finding out about products or services. This may include checking prices for products or fuel, or finding the nearest location of a store.
Mobile payments continue to grow and are happening in a variety of ways, including via an app, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Chase Pay and more. Walmart even created its own branded payment option called Walmart Pay.
“The emergence of Apple Pay and Google Pay continues to take hold, and some c-stores are using mobile payment in conjunction with a loyalty offering or cashback offering around fuel purchases. This will certainly be a player in the decades to come,” Lang said.
The final way consumers are using mobile to interact is through direct communication with retailers — whether it’s sending feedback, asking questions or looking for other kinds of support.
This includes recent developments with artificial intelligence.
“There are opportunities for c-stores to drive business outcomes in all five of these areas,” Lang advised. “Today, mobile is a must, but c-stores need to know who their customer is and what their objective is with utilizing mobile. Then, it’s about how they can move that forward.”
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