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Most consumers expect in-store offers on their mobile devices. The problem is most retailers are struggling to meet that demand.

“Enhancing customer experience” is the bottom line when it comes to just about any consumer-facing mobile marketing tool, from beacons to Point Of Sale systems. In general, the interactive marketing industry’s main challenge in getting smartphone-toting, wearables-wearing consumers to be activated while in a retail location has been the fear of annoying consumers with too many notifications.

However, if an Accenture Retail survey of 750 U.S. consumers is to be believed, the problem is that stores aren’t doing enough to connect with consumers.

Accenture looked at how U.S. retailers operate across multiple sales channels and found that, in order to win consumer loyalty and achieve growth across all channels, retailers must enhance their mobile commerce offerings and improve the in-store shopping experience.

Only 42 percent of in-store shoppers found it easy to complete a purchase using a mobile device. And when asked which aspect of the shopping experience is most in need of an upgrade, 39 percent ranked the physical store first, suggesting that retailers have not made much progress in these categories since Accenture asked the same questions last year.

Survey participants told Accenture they would like to access services via their mobile phones while shopping in-store:

  • Nearly 40 percent said that they would take advantage of the opportunity to earn loyalty points and save money on their purchases through in-store mobile phone offers.
  • About 45 percent would like to receive real-time promotions sent to their phones or tablet — and yet, only 28 percent of retailers currently have the capability to deliver that service.
  • Most importantly, Digital Presence Management matters. Respondents said that retailers who don’t have the right online presence and pricing are at risk of losing sales once a physical store closes for the day. If access to a physical site is not possible, 15 percent of consumers indicated they would shop around online for the best price, rather than buy from the original retailer online or wait to go back to the store, an increase from nine percent over last year’s survey.

customer experience expectationsThe gap between consumers’ desire for more in-store mobile offerings and the current ability retailers to satisfy those demands is further reinforced by the 32 percent of respondents who said the second biggest improvement retailers need to make in the consumer shopping experience is to enable the use of all three sales channels – physical store, online and mobile — in an integrated way. However, tablet and mobile phone users are able to start shopping on their devices and complete the cycle in-store with only 22 and 19 percent of retailers, respectively.

When asked specifically about the improvements that are needed to enhance the in-store experience, survey respondents cited easy ordering of out-of-stock merchandise (19 percent) and free Wi-Fi (15 percent). In addition, more than one-third (36 percent) said they would order out-of-stock items via their mobile phone while in-store if they had that option.

“Physical and digital commerce are converging at an incredible pace,” said Dave Richards, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice, in a statement. “The fact that many consumers use their mobile devices to check inventory availability while on their way to a store and are looking for real-time promotions to be sent to their phones means retailers have an opportunity to capitalize on the power of these devices.”

The ball is in retailers’ court. The businesses who delay building and installing a full system capable of responding to mobile apps with frictionless digital payment tools that offer loyalty, coupons, and rewards in-store, will lose. The ones who provide a seamless bridge between customers’ online and offline experiences will win, Richards noted.

“All sales channels must be equally desirable to the consumer, so that the path to purchase is not chosen based on satisfaction in one channel over another, but simply on what is most convenient at that time,” Richards concluded.

And now, our favorite links from around the web:

Finally, onto our top stories from this week:

5. Brands Need To Take Control Of Their Location Data The promise and problems of “Big Data” has been clear for years. But the issue of how local brands can take control of their information continues to be murky, says WhereToGetIt’s Manish Patel.

4. GeoMinds: Will Beacons Bring Us Out Of The Dark Ages Of Marketing? Beacons alone won’t help local marketers navigate to a new age of place-based advertising, writes Mobiquity Networks’ Josh Glantz.

3. Move Over IoT, Aisle411 Is Set To Create The ‘Internet of Stores’ Aisle411 And InvenSense have begun tests to track mobile consumers’ real-rime retail movements for behavioral targeting and insights.

2. xAd Builds A Better Geofence With Blueprints Location accuracy demands specific physical boundaries around a business, not “circles.”

1. Apple Maps Is No Longer A Punchline The iOS map has added more reviews aimed at travelers, indicating an aggressive marketing stance in advance of Apple Watch sales.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.