Improving The Retail Ecosystem

Dave LawsonThe in-store retail environment can be looked at as a type of ecosystem – like a fishbowl of commerce. The trick is to make the environment most hospitable to sales.
As I’ve gathered a deeper understanding of the business behind retail over the years through my work in mobile marketing, I’ve been blown away by the amount of data that exists on the store-side.
Here’s what I mean. When people are in the stores, we know the path they will walk, what attracts them, where they will go next, and what they ultimately did (or didn’t) purchase. In the best cases, we know what that customer bought over the past 2-3 years, what emails they have received, what Web content they have consumed, and how many tweets and “likes” they have seeded the social landscape with. It’s staggering.

All of this data, combined with a skyrocketing global wealth boom, has led many retailers to implement business rules that have allowed them to grow exponentially over the past few decades, often in spite of some massive inefficiencies.

These inefficiencies are noticeable, observable behaviors that can cost brands precious bottom-of-funnel conversions and retailers heaps of unrealized revenue.

Some inefficiencies that can lead to lost conversions and revenue include:

  • Customers walking into a store with a want or need to buy, but walking out without making a purchase
  • Inventory inaccuracies which leave too much product in some places and not enough in others;
  • Non-uniform pricing across channels creating confusion and mistrust in customers;
  • Even something as simple as not providing the best customer experience possible.

I’ve found you can dramatically change outcomes for the consumer. It just takes the introduction of user-friendly tactical initiatives that support a larger, overarching strategy – initiatives that are backed by a long-term technology solution.

In posts to follow, we’ll take a look at how simple changes to your tactical iniatives/marketing strategy, such as leveraging mobile, are impacting these environments and how the smaller-scale lessons of today will drive a deep chasm between those retailers who are merely surviving and those who thrive.

I’m making no earth shattering proclamation here by saying that mobile as a marketing channel represents a huge opportunity for stakeholders in the ecosystem (retailers, brands, and consumers) to change the game for the better. While still nascent, mobile makes things possible that have never been before – such as direct personal messaging at any place and time with SMS and MMS, understanding the relevance of someone’s location via LBS, augmented reality, barcode scanning to unlock digital content and amplify real-world experiences, and more. These opportunities are available to anyone that has the interest in taking the time to figure out the right fit for them in the space or the right partners to make that journey with them.

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