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Thomas Russell

Smartphone tool crucial for retailer, consumer alike

Scott GambleScott Gamble of Alliance Data Retail Services says retailers can use smartphones to their advantage, reaching out to consumers using mobile techngology.
NAPLES, Fla. - For consumers, smartphones can be tools to locate and land the best deals. But for some unprepared retailers, the devices can send business walking out the door, particularly if shoppers find a better deal up the street or online.
     Retailers can use this technology to their advantage, however, by keeping smartphone users not only in their
stores, but also spending money while they are there. That was the message from Scott Gamble, vice president of digital solutions for Alliance Data Retail Services, who spoke at Furniture/Today's Nov. 28-30 Leadership Conference at the Ritz-Carlton here.
     "It is not necessarily a bad thing to see a customer walking around your store with a smartphone and interacting with your merchandise," he said. "But it is important to curate, or control your customer's mobile experience."
     In his presentation, Gamble noted that 87% of active shoppers use a smartphone and 88% use a smartphone weekly to guide them in their shopping experience. Another 71% have downloaded an app for a favorite retailer.
     That said, not having a mobile version of your store's website can cause many shoppers to have a negative impression of your brand, he said.
     And with 31% looking up competitors' prices on the same merchandise, the use of smartphones also can drive business directly to a competing store.
     Having a store with mobile friendly in-store shopping experiences, he said, can help drive traffic to and keep traffic engaged on your sales floor.
He advised retailers to:
     ► Use QR (quick response) codes or barcodes that direct the customer back to your store's website and keep them engaged in shopping at your store by providing store alerts, discounts and special offers.
     "As a retailer, you wouldn't let a competitor put a sign in your store," he said, while asking the rhetorical question, why would a retailer make it easy to access information about a competitor's offers or products?
     ► Arm sales associates with the proper technology and tools that help answer consumer questions and find information that will improve their shopping experience.
     ► Offer links that can be easily shared on social networking sites and also make sure the barcodes direct consumers to your website.
     "Make sure the (shopping) experience is mobile-friendly from end to end," Gamble said. "The mobile shopper represents a great opportunity. Guiding their path to purchase in every channel is critical."
     He also suggested that having private label merchandise on the sales floor can make it more difficult for shoppers to find similar products, prices or offers in or outside your market area.

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