We’ve probably all imagined a future where the physical, brick and mortar businesses of our time are a thing of the past.
Street-side stores are left abandoned. Cobwebs gather on the shelves. Weeds sprout between the cracks.
And then the demolition. All fall before the wrecking ball of progress.
In this vision, technology has rendered the traditional brick and mortar store useless, a mere remnant of an era bygone.
Future consumers ask, “Why go to a store when we can just buy online?”
Blending Mobile with the Real World
We can see it starting to happen today. Almost every imaginable action is completed online. Ecommerce grows, fueled by the expansion and sophistication of digital advertising.
The entire internet – nearly 1 billion active websites – now lives in our pockets.
So is this it?
Is it only a matter of time until the stores that line our streets become the echos of our past, doomed to await their demolition?
Retail Is Still Important
The suggestion that digital advertising’s sophistication and expansion -specifically to mobile – will drive consumers away from brick and mortar stores is an easy assumption to make.
But that doesn’t make it true.
Ecommerce has been growing steadily for years now, but retail sales still accounted for 93 percent of total sales in Q1 of 2015.
And while the most common consumer journey may begin online, more often than not, it ends with an in-store purchase.
So let’s not think of mobile advertising as a force that drives consumers away from stores towards some utopian future dominated by ecommerce.
Instead, think of mobile advertising as what is actually is: a tool to get your message – whatever that may be – in front of as many people possible no matter where they are.
In some cases, that message may in fact direct consumers towards your ecommerce site.
But in others, that message can drive in-store traffic. And the reality is, no form of advertising is better equipped to do so than mobile advertising.
Bringing the Mobile Consumer into Your Store
Let’s think about your average, modern-day consumer.
He has an idea in his head of a product he wants to buy.
But first, he’ll need to do his research.
We already know that he’s almost guaranteed to do his research online, browsing websites for product information, brand comparisons, and best deals.
And there’s also a very good chance he’s doing his research on a mobile device, considering about 71% of people in the U.S. own a smartphone, and those that do spend on average a hour a day using it. In addition, over 25 percent of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices and that number is growing.
And if he is completing his research on a mobile device – like a smartphone, for instance – there’s an opportunity there for brands to drive him towards an in-store purchase.
It’s not uncommon.
According to CMO.com by Adobe, as of last year 84 percent of in-store shoppers use their mobile device before or during their visit.
And that makes a lot of sense.
The modern-day consumer is often on the go. He’s constantly moving from work to dinner parties to school activities with the kids, and doesn’t have the time to sit down at a computer to do research.
He needs his product information now – while he’s moving about his day-to-day life – not after he retires for the evening.
To this end, our consumer’s smartphone can connect him with the product information he seeks – and do so in a way that allows him to continue on his daily journey uninterrupted.
Your Ad, Your Message
But if he’s already doing his research on his phone, why doesn’t he just buy from a mobile e-commerce site?
It really depends on what you want him to do. It’s your message, so you ultimately have control over where you direct him.
Don’t have an e-commerce site? No worries. Have your mobile ad direct him to your store.
And if you’re really creative, you can even use mobile-specific functionalities to make an in-store purchase seem not only possible, but more convenient and appealing.
- Mobile ads can leverage location data to direct your consumer via GPS to your nearest store location.
- They can provide information on store-specific products, which ones you have in-stock and which ones are on sale.
- They can even implement redeemable rewards and coupons that your consumer can use in-store by activating their mobile device.
If he’s already researching your product on his smartphone, the likelihood that he’s looking for the nearest store is high. After all, he’s using a mobile device. This probably means he is indeed on-the-go.
So take advantage and deliver ads that give him the information he seeks.
Besides, as much as we humans might enjoy the convenience of shopping and purchasing products online, there will always be a very human need to go to the store and see the product we’re interested in.
In this way, the product becomes real. It becomes tangible. The consumer can connect with it. And he doesn’t have to wait (and pay) for it to be packaged and shipped.
Mobile advertising is all about creatively and effectively delivering your message to your consumers.
Where that message drives them is ultimately up to you.