There’s no argument to be made here regarding the importance of mobile in the consumer buying process. As a (self-proclaimed) retail sales veteran with over seven years of experience, I’ve seen the transition from the consumer’s reliance on the in-store experience and salespeople to that of their own research to help them make purchasing decisions. Not that prior to ~14.1 MB/s, people weren’t able to research their options with mobile data download speeds, but mobile devices have developed to make that process even simpler. According to Nielsen’s Q3-Q4 2011 “US Digital Consumer Report,” 29% of smartphone owners use their device for shopping-related activities. Top mobile shopping activities include in-store price comparisons (38%), browsing products through the mobile web or apps (38%), and reading online product reviews (32%) (eMarketer, Feb. 2012). How can traditional retailers keep up with an increasingly mobile world?
Online retailers have been doing a great job identifying their pain points and providing service offerings to sway consumers towards online shopping; free shipping, one-day shipping, extended return policies, product knowledge databases, customer reviews, competitive costs, etc. As a result, many mobile shoppers use retail stores purely as a playground for putting the products in their hands. In a study by Google and IPSOS OTX during the 2011 holiday shopping season 19% of smartphones users began their journey by researching on their device, going to a store to test the product, then going back online for purchase (eMarketer, Feb. 2012, same link as above).
More and more, big box stores are becoming “showrooms” for online shoppers to test products that they saw online (Forbes, 2012). Most of these retailers are also unable to compete with online prices due to their profit margins being much smaller. Although the percentage of smartphone use for shopping-related activities is currently nowhere near 100%, that number will continue to grow as the amount of online and mobile shopping solutions increase.
The first thing that retailers need to do is drop the assumption that consumers simply don’t know what they want. Serious buyers will arm themselves with knowledge and speaking to sales staff is only a fraction of the buying process. Therefore, retailers need to be where customers are looking for their sources. Big box retailers that focus on making their online and mobile shopping experiences as easy as, or easier than shopping at one of their stores have found the greatest success.
The common mistake is for stores to move forward with mobile apps but then these apps serve as nothing more than a catalogue. These apps were built with the wrong question in mind: “How do I bring users into my store(s)?” The right question is: “How do I make users stay on the app/site?” Make your online store a one-stop shop for information, identify your customer’s pain points and resolve them by offering interactive tools.
For a better idea of successful practices, check out a couple of my favourite shopping apps:
Asako is one of Soshal Group’s awesome Account Managers. When she’s not busy keeping her clients happy, she spends her free time listening to new music, trying out new recipes, and mostly reading tech blogs.
Soshal Group launched its Digital Engagement Practice with an understanding that brands and organizations need to be proactive in improving their connectivity with important stakeholders: customers, employees, members, and the public. To achieve this goal, there needs to be tailored-strategies for these groups, and implementation of technologies to improve communication flow. This means so much more than casually responding to customer service issues on Twitter, or periodically responding to employee suggestions by email. Engagement needs to happen across all operations, launching campaigns to stimulate use of these platforms or channels and incorporating advanced tracking and measurement programs. Engagement practices can be extremely valuable to any organization, so long as it can avoid these 3 common shortfalls of engagement execution.
Many organizations treat their engagement strategies as necessary evils, which allow them to check a box that says, “Yes, we use social media and have a feedback email for employee use. Engagement requirement achieved.”
Engaging stakeholders should not be a means to check off a box, but a strategy that’s leveraged for solving problems and improving a competitive advantage. Best engagement practices require the identification of key company objectives, incorporating methods of connectivity, and establishing metrics to identify how this strategy meets those objectives.
Engaging employees, customers, members, or the public provides a vast amount of opportunities to improve the bottom line of ANY organization. However, engaging for the sake of checking the box, and jumping on the engagement bandwagon is a wasted opportunity to improve your business at a functional level.
Marketers will often times make the mistake of treating their engagement programs like mass-media channels, where the same message is broadcast to a large user base. There is often strength in numbers, but to see transformative success from your efforts, you will need to recognize that not all of your stakeholders carry as much weight as others. It is important to segment these stakeholders into relevant sub-groups and craft targeting messaging, content, and responses that will elicit the greatest action (employee feedback, crowdsourcing of the public, facilitating connections between members, or communicating with shareholders and customers).
In many engagement programs, there may be obvious go-to groups or individuals who should be involved and engaged. This is likely because of the status they carry within your organization, the volume of their voice, or the likelihood of responding to your message. While these groups may seem like obvious targets for engagement, a successful practice looks beyond the obvious, and ensures the strategy reaches the quieter, less obvious, but equally valuable voices. In this approach, marketers are ensuring that the conversation is both inclusive and complete.
The wealth of tools and applications made available at a low cost makes it seemingly easy to launch your own engagement program. However, to be truly successful with a strategy as a means to improve your business’ operations or bottom line, engagement needs to be integrated within an organization’s brand, culture, and business processes - not simply thrown on top of your existing activities.
If the word “engagement” gets summed up within your organization as “social media”, the likelihood of measurable success will be difficult to achieve. Soshal Group fully recognizes that this term is both a buzzword and very difficult to define, but it’s important to recognize that, if properly executed, digital engagement programs can go far beyond your Facebook page. Once your digital engagement strategy reflects this, then you will be on your way to experiencing success.
If you feel your organization is making some of these mistakes, or you’re interested in learning more about engagement practices, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Soshal Group’s Digital Engagement expert Paul Dombowsky: email@example.com.
Jodie, Marketing Coordinator for Soshal’s Digital Engagement Practice, is keen on understanding industries that might benefit from the Soshal approach and to impart knowledge of best engagement practices. As a digital marketing enthusiast, she writes on industry trends and strategy. Passions include running, white wine, and How I Met your Mother re-runs.
A growing client roster looking to connect with members, customers, employees, and their communities across multiple touch points has spawned a new Digital Engagement Practice at Soshal Group. The agency has enlisted the help of Ideavibes founder, Paul Dombowsky, to help it launch the practice. The digital engagement offering focuses on solving internal and external client challenges around policy, technology integration, collaboration, content development, and stakeholder research.
Paul will bring years of experience working with a wide variety of brands and public organizations in both Canada and the US on crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, citizen engagement, community development, and social media initiatives. He will work closely with existing Soshal Group clients (the Canadian Medical Association, United Way Canada, and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario), but Soshal Group hopes to acquire new partnerships with government, health, non-profit organizations, associations, and consumer brands where digital engagement is a focus.
Dave, CEO of Soshal Group, says, “The goal for this business unit is to create a service and product offering that pushes our clients’ digital engagement programs forward in the right direction. Paul has truly bought into Soshal’s mission of architecting opportunities for our clients, team, and community, and has proven himself as an industry thought-leader in multiple markets.”
“Digital Engagement tools provide a great way for organizations to engage their crowd (citizens, customers, prospects, etc.) from a tactical perspective through open innovation or crowdsourcing. We have found that clients need help building the strategy and supporting the social media requirements of effective engagement. Partnering with Soshal Group, I look forward to helping clients by implementing innovative and effective digital engagement programs using a robust set of tools and solutions that is unique in the marketplace,” according to Paul.
The Digital Engagement Practice is one of several new business units Soshal Group is developing as we round-out our position as a fully-integrated digital agency.
As CEO of Soshal Group, Dave is responsible for our growth, strategic concepts, and client programs. When he’s not working to help our clients be social by nature, Dave is an active supporter of entrepreneurship in Ottawa and spends his “free” time helping other start-‐ups develop sales and marketing programs.