, ,

The promise of mobile technologies keeps growing, tantalizing retailers with the possibility of turning consumers with smartphones into loyal, high-share, committed customers.

But most firms still struggle with their implementation. Eight examples suggest some options:

  1. Kroger’s app allows customers to create grocery lists on their smartphones. Then it finds them related coupons, which it loads onto their electronic loyalty card. Thus a hurried grocery shopper arrives in the store organized, prepared, and ready to buy.
  2. Shopkick rewards users just for entering a store. It has taken the “no purchase required” concept mobile, with the recognition that getting customers into a store is often the hardest part. Of course, they gain extra points for trying on items and purchasing.
  3. A retail superstore offers a “Find It” app to avoid the frustration that customers feel when confronted with miles of aisles and no idea where to find the exact item they want. They type in a product description, and the app shows them a locational map of the store.
  4. Best Buy places QR codes on all its product tags. Thus a customer who needs more information about a new technology or wants more details before making a major appliance purchase can use a smartphone to link to further information, as well as compare several alternatives side-by-side, even if they are far apart in the store.
  5. If a sneaker fan needs a new pair of Converse, he or she can take a photo of a pair, see it in a variety of colors and styles, and paste it onto a Facebook page to get feedback from friends—all through a single app.
  6. The employees at the C Wonder store all carry handheld devices to help customers check out at any point in the store, at any time during their shopping trip. No lines, no carrying heavy items all through the store.
  7. Home Depot’s how-to app offer videos, detailed instructions, and tips for ways to use its products. Even the most dedicated do-it-yourselfer can use help sometimes.
  8. Walgreens customers receive text alerts when their prescriptions need refilling. Thus the drug store helps them stay healthy, but it also ensures that it gets customers back in the store.

Discussion Questions

1. What common elements of these applications make them effective and appealing for customers?

Source: Cherryh Butler, “Retail Customer Experience: Eight Ways the Smartphone Can Help Your Customers Love You,” Retail Wire, March 14, 2012.