Four Must-Haves to Create a Winning Mobile Platform
NATIONAL REPORT — One distinct advantage that convenience stores have over many other types of brick-and-mortar retailers is that by their nature, they appeal to consumers who want something immediately, without waiting for an online purchase to arrive. Still, there is considerable value to be gained from adopting a mobile platform, according to a recent Convenience Store News webinar.
Today, nearly 80 percent of Americans own smartphones, and smartphone users constitute "an overwhelming majority" of c-store customers, according to Kimberly Otocki, content marketing specialist at Paytronix Systems Inc. and presenter of the webinar entitled "How the Mobile Platform Unlocks Opportunities for C-Stores."
Ninety percent of customers use their phone inside the store while shopping. This allows consumers to retrieve information about a brand wherever they are. Whether they're commuting, walking down the street or shopping, they are constantly using their mobile device to gather information on where they should go next and what they should purchase. This is a big deal for c-store operators, who want to reach people when they're on the go.
To find the right mobile platform, operators should consider three main factors: how to identify customizable information, how to keep customers active with one's brand, and how to increase spend through the platform.
Eighty percent of the time consumers spend on their smartphones involves just five apps, according to Otocki. And there are many apps and brands competing for the coveted space on a consumer's device. C-store retailers can boost the chances of being among the top apps by incorporating these four features:
Competitors to c-stores, like Starbucks and a wide range of quick-service restaurants, have made free Wi-Fi "a very big perk" that makes the store a more attractive destination. Not only is it convenient, but it also encourages the mobile behavior that c-stores want to see from customers.
2. Mobile payment with NFC
The ability to offer one-tap payment and loyalty program enrollment cuts down on line length at checkout, easily collects all customer purchase-level data, and is a customer-focused method of payment. Mobile payment with NFC is already a big part of today's retail world, and is expected to grow exponentially.
3. Mobile app
"Think of a mobile app as a mobile window into your stores," Otocki said.
Apps provide important brand information to customers. But it also goes the other way around, as apps are a great way to collect usable customer data.
A key component of a successful mobile app is lifecycle management, as new, core and lapsing users will all exist. Games or other ways of making an app fun will keep customers using it, and regular rewards and sweepstakes can provide value.
4. Mobile messages
Mobile messages allow retailers to reach customers on the device that matters the most to them. Push messages can be highly personalized and are good for when you want that user to take an action soon. Pull messages, on the other hand, are good for longer-running promotions, as they are sent to the app and can be checked at any time.
Additionally, surveys can help operators make sure they are catering to their customers' needs, and geofencing lets retailers set a radius around their store and connect with customers at the right place and time. Otocki noted that 75 percent of people say they would like to receive offers via SMS messages.
Looking into the future, retailers should be aware of innovation happening now around connected cars, one-click and online ordering, and scan-and-go technology, as these are areas that are likely to grow in popularity with consumers.
Mobile is an extension of a brand, and smart retailers will utilize mobile to expand sales and basket size as much as they can, Otocki concluded.
A replay of the "How the Mobile Platform Unlocks Opportunities for C-Stores" webinar is available here.