If you knew which customers were making decisions right at the store shelf, or on a showroom floor, would you talk to them differently than someone doing research from home?

Of course. Increasingly marketers are reaching shoppers through mobile devices as they make retail choices in stores. There's a huge opportunity for digital marketing to come "inside the store" to provide realtime air support to help win sales.

Lately, I’ve been helping manufacturers and retailers to use mobile channels to reach customers in stores through mobile devices, right at the shelf, while they’re making purchase decisions.

As influential as digital marketing is for awareness and preference, when you can use it to improve “win rate” right at the shelf, that’s a compelling use of digital, and one which connects to the C-suite.

There’s no doubt that mobile commerce is changing shoppers' in-store habits. But now, as marketers start to recognize the context clients are in, and to automatically respond with targeted messages, marketing is going beyond just being “mobile.” It will be situationally relevant.

This isn't based on a specific technology. What sets this apart is that mobile tactics are introducing digital marketing as a factor inside stores. It can happen through a mix of smart phones, store-owned kiosks, and even SMS text.

Location + personalization = better engagement

 Personalization is nothing new. As an email marketer at Reuters, I found that more personalized messages could drive nearly two-thirds more conversions than one-size-fits-all communications.

Marketers already have systems that can recognize clients by name, generate user profile-driven offers and content, and drive conversion rates with trigger-based offers such as, “you just abandoned your cart, want free shipping?”

The introduction of the mobile channel, coupled with geo positioning, mobile bar scanning and check-in apps like Brightkite, Foursquare, Gowalla, and Google Latitude, to announce where you are is breeding a new era of context-sensitive marketing.

I like the term the staff at IBM are using: multichannel precision marketing. Here you’re using real-time behavioral data to deliver immediate, personalized content and initiate ongoing dialogs with shoppers to drive loyalty and sales. This is especially important as the use of applications continues to integrate into our daily lives.

Global retailers are catching on

Consider a scenario in which you bring your tablet to the grocery store and mount it in a convenient holder on your shopping cart. As you stroll the aisles and pass featured products, your store app alerts you to a recipe using the featured product and maps out which aisles you can find the additional ingredients.

This may sound like an app for the future, but in fact Groupe Casino, France’s largest food retailer, has already launched such an application, mCasino.

Here we see a complete integration of the online and offline worlds. Users prepare their shopping lists online and access them with their phones or tablets. They can then use their mobile device to scan, pay and check out from the grocery store. With this wealth of information, the retailer can use past behavior to influence the shopping trip as it is happening.

Did you buy Dannon Yogurt last week? A reminder pops up on your phone as you approach the dairy section. You like BBQ chips? There’s a sale on a brand you’ve not tried.

In addition, the app enables the grocer to collect consumers’ opinions on products via interactive terminals and scanners in the stores. You mention you didn’t have a great experience — here’s 10€ off your next shopping trip.

The rise of shopping 3.0

It's imperative to recognize that consumer retail channels, the store, the web, direct marketing and media, are no longer discrete marketing silos. We’re slowly merging the online and offline channels, creating a convergence of the shopping experience. This is giving birth to a new era of digital marketing that is literate across the variety of ways customers reach their data and our messages.

And it is part of a bigger picture. Mobility plus data integration (semantic web) and access from multiple devices through the cloud are the hallmarks of an expanded digital ecosystem that I’ve been calling Web 3.0.

This spells the decline of the static html page, and a growing expectation of greater interactivity through application-like experiences.

The question now is which companies will integrate mobile commerce into their physical points of purchase. Like social media, mobile use in stores is taking place whether brands are directly involved or not.

Customers are already accessing data, if not from retailers, then by checking prices and purchase options from competitors. Brands and retailers are starting to engage shoppers directly, as digital marketing now moves right up to the store shelf.

Digital is becoming a layer that runs through the entire customer experience. What has been seen as separate channels are merging. How are you bringing them together in your business? Does your digital marketing extend all the way to the store shelf? Does it go beyond that into the "ownership experience"?

In my next post we'll look at how auto manufacturers are using tablets and applications to improve their sales and ownership experience. That's significant, because for the most part manufacturers have previously reached customers through a channel of dealers. You'll see how direct to consumer marketing is shifting the balance.

Dave Wieneke

Published 26 April, 2011 by Dave Wieneke

Dave Wieneke leads Digital Strategy at Connective DX, and is a graduate lecturer on Digital Marketing at Rutgers Business School. He writes on the future of digital marketing at UsefulArts.us and he can be reached through Twitter and LinkedIn


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Comments (3)


Jeremy Whittaker

Great article - thanks! I was reading a report by Gartner today that predicted that context-aware computing would amount to $140 billion in revenue worldwide. These technologies will certainly make a huge difference for retailers who want to gain and maintain a competitive edge.

over 7 years ago


eCommerce Web Design

I read an article a few years back about talking shopping carts in America and thought it was the future. A life where I can mount my iPad on one is a dream!

over 7 years ago


Bill McKimm

Clearly these customer interactions for brands will be seen as very exciting, we just need to temper that with not just selling the communication to the highest bidder, but ensuring a clear and relevant customer contact strategy. Otherwise it will be customer disruptive and take away from the customer experience.

Another real benefit will be using these multiple touch-points to understand the off-line and on-line customer buying behaviour. Then we can start executing CRM that touches all channels.

Getting this on the agenda of the retailer at the moment is the tough bit!

over 7 years ago

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