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.