The proliferation of mobile devices has had a transformational effect on the shopping experience. It has forced retailers to shift their marketing efforts and focus to the fastest growing, most personalized channel — a shopper’s phone.

Imagine the following example, you walk by a retail store whose website you happened to be browsing last week. While online, you added an item to your shopping cart but then abandoned it and did not proceed to checkout. However, that retailer incorporated a location-based marketing solution that tied into their existing systems and allowed them to say, “Hi Keri, the shoes in your online shopping cart are in-store today. Come inside and purchase them for 10% off!”

While these sorts of experiences allow for retailers to better engage their shoppers at the right time and place, they also create a wealth of data that can help them empirically measure what mobile experiences do and do not work. More significantly, it brings tools and metrics to the physical world that marketers have already mastered in the online world to improve loyalty, optimize their investments and drive purchase intent.

While the new era of mobile has created an unprecedented opportunity for marketers seeking to create more contextually relevant experiences, it has also forced them to rethink what is possible in traditional brick-and-mortar settings. Many retailers have invested significantly in understanding their shoppers’ journey through locations online on “Web” sites, but have neglected their physical “sites” or brick-and-mortar locations.

While e-Commerce has gotten significant attention, there is a disconnect when considering that nearly 93% of U.S. retailers’ sales still happen in-store. With the majority of sales being generated in this channel, there is a massive need and opportunity to optimize the storefront with new technologies and services.

In the digital world it is possible to know virtually everything about a shopper visiting locations online on web sites — everything from what drove them to your site, what products they are viewing and which ones they viewed afterward. However, as mobile devices and location-based services have become increasingly common, we have seen a “digitizing” of the physical world, allowing for similar metrics and insights previously only available online.

It is finally possible to make “physical” sites operate much like web sites with platforms such as Gimbal. These services allow retailers to engage and understand shoppers at a macro-location (e.g., geofences) and micro-location (e.g., beacons) level, and give you the tools to set up, manage and analyze your location network. This begs the question of retail marketing organizations, What could you do if you could treat every physical site in the world the same as a web site, and get the same insights and engagement capabilities?

We view this opportunity as the missing link in omnichannel programs, and something every marketer should consider when forming their strategy. With 84% of shoppers using their mobile device in-store, and 77% willing to share location data in return for personalized, relevant mobile experiences, shoppers are hungry and ready for this level of engagement. Soon 1:1 marketing, perfectly personalized and curated brand conversations will be what shoppers expect, and something retailers will not want to risk missing out on.


This article was originally published in a March 2016 feature from Retail Touch Points