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Smartphone retail consumers have higher in-store expectations

NEW YORK ? What happens when 130 million consumers with smartphones in hand go shopping in retail stores this holiday season? What are smartphone consumer expectations regarding the in-store experience, sales staff product knowledge and available inventory? Are retailers ready for the invasion of the smartphone shoppers this holiday season?

The Location Based Marketing Association brought experts together to address these issues at its first event in New York last week. The event was hosted at the AT&T AdWorks Lab premises and led by LBMA founder Asif Khan and Dan Hodges, president of the association?s New York chapter and managing director of Consumers in Motion.

?The location ecosystem is getting smarter every day and we are living at the interaction of people, places and media,? Mr. Khan said.

Themed ?The Retailer's Dilemma,? the evening focused on the challenges that retailers face in categorizing and selecting the right location-based marketing tools for their stores.

Also speaking on the panel were executives from Ralph Lauren, the New York Jets, AT&T AdWorks Lab, advertising agency Initiative and location technology provider PlaceIQ.

Seven seen
Mr. Khan opened the meeting by offering an overview of the top trends in location technology, pointing out that ?there are seven trends that are impacting retail location-based marketing.?

These trends are:

First, location is the new cookie and data set.

Second, augmented reality and location together are powerful.

Third, retailers are taking the store to the people.

Fourth, there is the gamification of retail.

Fifth, the growth of geo-fencing and relevant offers to consumers.

Sixth, there is the rise of telematics and the connected car.

Finally, indoor location is hot.

?The speed and impact on retailers is unprecedented,? Mr. Hodges said.

Taking stock
Mr. Hodges cited a Deloitte study showing mobile-direct and mobile-influenced retail sales is expected to grow from $158 billion in 2012 to $689 billion by 2016.

Mark Wales of Ralph Lauren said that the luxury retailer has already taken steps to address the smartphone shopper.

The Ralph Lauren sales associates are trained to properly address the information and inventory expectations of smartphone shoppers.

The consumer expectation is that all sizes and shapes are available. Ralph Lauren has responded by improving its view of inventory across the entire system.

?If we don?t have it at the store where you are shopping, we know the nearest location and can get it to consumers, usually within a day,? Mr. Wales said.

Paul Marsh of the New York Jets said that the sports franchise is using location targeting to super serve its most avid fans and to grow the fan base. 

Niladri Batabyal from PlaceIQ cited its work with a major retailer where it was able to use smartphone location targeting to conquest competitor stores, offering special incentives to draw shoppers away from the competitors? stores.

As the cookie crumbles
Dan Wittmers leads the mobile practice for Initiative and oversees the mobile strategy for top-tier brands such as MillerCoors, Hasbro, Arby?s and USAA.

Mr. Wittmers said there is no a cookie-cutter way to approach mobile. Brands need to test and learn to obtain the data that they can use for their business planning modeling.

David Polinchock from AT&T?s AdWorks Lab said ?the lab brings data to life and provides a glimpse into the future of advertising and innovation.?

The purpose of the lab is to inform, engage and inspire advertisers by taking them through the past, present and future of media innovation and technology.

There is no cookie cutter way to approach the future for brands, echoed Mr. Polinchock.

?People amplify the message you start,? he said.

?Start with a great message and that's what people will amplify. Have a bad message and that's what they'll pass along.?