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5 ways to get shoppers to buy from you, not a competitor

This post is part of a five part series about what smart retail marketers are doing this holiday season to not only increase sales, but also strengthen customer relationships. Want all the info in one place? Download our eBook: The Retailer’s Ultimate Guide to Holiday Marketing.

M-commerce isn't always a retailer's best friend. Why? Because of a phenomenon that's all-too familiar to retailers: "showrooming."

Showrooming happens when a customer ventures into a store to check out a product firsthand – and then promptly buys the same one from Amazon.com or another online retailer, often at a lower price. The good news? Eighty-four percent of consumers who use mobile devices to compare products do it from inside a store. This means retailers have an opportunity to engage an in-store buyer all the way through to checkout, whether it's online or off.

Here are some effective strategies for holding onto holiday shoppers:

1. Use in-store promotions. Retailers can encourage customers to engage online or via an app by strategically placing QR codes and signs throughout their stores. But that's not all. Any in-store signage should give customers a reason to engage through special discounts or a more extensive and exclusive collection not available in the store. Target, for example, has signs in its apparel section that direct customers online for additional sizes or colors, while buybuy BABY gives special offers to customers who text a number or scan a QR code.

2. Collect email addresses. One of the problems that I see overall with retailers is forgetting to ask permission on mobile properties. If they get to the mobile site or mobile app and retailers aren't actively asking them for permission, they're missing out on that potential opportunity to extend and create a relationship with that customer beyond the store.

3. Mobilize sales associates. iPad-toting sales reps are proving to be an effective way to engage with in-store customers and to help them complete a purchase far from the cash register. Nordstrom employees, for instance, use tablets to help customers find a product on Nordstrom.com that they can't find in the store – or buy an item in the middle of the shoe section. In the process, they ask permission for the shopper's email address – and follow up with an individualized message summarizing the merchandise that was purchased and offering similar suggestions. Follow-up emails like these can significantly contribute to a retailer's bottom line.

4. Offer e-receipts. Sending receipts via email is another great way to interact with the customer and add email or text message subscribers. Fashion retailer Dillard's and home improvement retailer The Home Depot introduced e-receipts earlier this year. Customers enter their email addresses at checkout, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of typos when a sales clerk types them in. Home Depot's e-receipts encourage customers to sign up for email newsletters and enter to win a gift card. E-receipts can also be used to cross-sell or up-sell products to customers.

5. Customers are using Passbook. You should, too. Apple’s Passbook is now the No. 4 mobile commerce app behind Amazon, Groupon and eBay, according to the Wall Street Journal. While Passbook is mainly known for delivering coupons and loyalty cards via the app, digital marketers can also send these via email and SMS. It’s a fantastic way to drive that digital experience of email to another digital experience of SMS and ultimately get them to take that Passbook coupon in stores to redeem it.

To learn more tips and tricks for your holiday marketing in 2013, check out our eBook or on-demand webcast about how to get bigger results this holiday season.

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