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    How In-store Mobile Users are Forcing POP to Go Digital

    dreamstime_xs_29456647_Mobile-In-StoreIt seems mobile users aren’t content to just spur on the digital revolution online. Their in-store behavior is also forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to rethink their in-store marketing methods.

    One area in particular is point-of-purchase displays. Shoppers want more than slick branding and eye-catching end caps. They want more product information and aren’t afraid to go online and get it for themselves, even while standing in the middle of your aisle — and they’re certainly not waiting around for a member of your sales team.

    As a matter of fact, 84% of smartphone shoppers use their phones while in a physical store – a trend that’s being seen across all categories from appliances and electronics to apparel and pet care. And, almost half use mobile for 15 or more minutes per store visit according to Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council.

    So what are they looking for as they gaze into their devices, apparently frozen in time?

    • 1 in 3 shoppers use their phone to find info rather than ask employees – “self help” is becoming the new norm. 1
    • Mobile search is their #1 in-store resource to help research products 1
    • 82% use mobile search to research products, 72% to make price comparisons, 63% to find promotional offers. 1
    • Price comparisons are the most common use across all categories. 1
    • They’re also looking up online reviews. 2

    “In-store shoppers are looking for product information and they’re turning to their mobile device to find it. The mobile device, always on and always with shoppers, is one of the biggest influencers in the store today; it presents tremendous opportunities for marketers across industries to connect with potential customers–wherever they are, whenever they’re searching for your products.” 1

    Now that 56% of American adults own smartphones, their behavior is becoming increasingly harder to ignore. And, who would want to ignore it when the stats also show that shoppers who use mobile more, spend more in-store. Frequent mobile shoppers spend 25% more in-store than people who only occasionally use a mobile phone to help with shopping.1 In appliances, 40% more. In electronics, 34% more.1

    Mobile-Friendly Point-of-Purchase Displays Give Shoppers What They’re Looking For

    Point of purchase displays should make a wealth of product information accessible to shoppers – right from their mobile phone. Whether it employs basic or advanced technology, mobile-accessible product content equips shoppers with the information they need to make a purchase now while in-store. And, emerging technologies are making it easier to serve up special offers to counter price comparison shopping and showrooming.

    Here are three examples ranging from basic to brilliant

    Herbal Essences Shelf Talker with MS Tag

    Herbal Essences Shelf Talker with MS Tag (Credit: tag.microsoft.com)

    1.“Shelf Talkers” with QR Codes or MS Tags

    Microsoft Tag and QR Codes saw their share of abuse. Or rather, shoppers’ time was abused as poor executions led scanners to brand home pages or useless content. But one place they can truly add value is in the aisles.

    Scannable shelf tags and displays link mobile-savvy shoppers to a variety of content. Herbal Essences used Microsoft Tag on shelf displays to help customers find the right product. Other uses include: links to product detail pages with additional spec info and reviews, product demo videos, instructional animations, or interactive product selectors.

    Say Something Different In Store and at Home
    Microsoft’s Tag technology uses Real Time Location (RTL) to serve up different results based on location. Imagine the same tag code from the shelf talker displayed on the product packaging so that scanned in-store it links to promotional content but once at home it links to product how-tos.

    Offer Something Different with Each Tap
    Another neat thing about Tag’s technology is that it can capture a unique device ID, allowing you to serve up a different experience with each tap. For instance, the first tap might bring up a coupon offer in one tap — while the next tap prompts a product demonstration animation.

    Provide Scan-Free Options
    Microsoft Tag has an NFC or “Near Field Communication” option that doesn’t require scanning at all. Shoppers with a compatible phone can just tap or come close to a display containing a NFC tag to get coupons, product info, videos, or other digital content instantly. For example, the platform ZapTap uses an NFC tag or QR Code to provide mobile product info, videos and instant offers as seen in this video: http://youtu.be/mGTGehF1kfI. It’s easy to see how this tech can help counter “showrooming” and boost in-store sales.

    Shortened URLs displayed beside the QR code give customers another scan-free option. Prefaced with a call to action, these tiny URLs get shoppers to the info they need quickly and with minimal typing on their tiny keyboards.

    For example, this link:
    “See it in action: http://www.medialab3dsolutions.com/portfolio/view/hi-efficiency-washer?cid=96,120

    Becomes with link:
    “See it in action: http://bit.ly/T3abfV

    Popular URL shortener services like Bit.ly also allow you to create custom shortened links with your own shortened domain.

    Do Codes Kill Design?
    Despite their usefulness, getting QR Codes onto in-store displays can sometimes be an uphill battle with Brand Marketers and Designers — where there’s a focus on form over function. The argument that a code takes up too much real estate or doesn’t work with the design can win-out over customer demands for more info. But it really doesn’t have to. QR codes don’t have to be ugly given the options for custom design.

    Aurasma Augmented Reality Demo with Router

    Aurasma image recognition and augmented reality demo. Click for video.

    2. Image Recognition and Augmented Reality

    With the image recognition and augmented reality technologies already breaking into the market for mobile phones, QR Codes and Tags soon won’t be needed at all. The code-shy Brand Marketer can simply tag any image and associate it with a piece of digital content. When the shopper points their mobile phone at the image the digital content comes to life right before their eyes.

    Matt Mills from Aurasma showed off a “new augmented reality tool that can seamlessly animate the world as seen through a smartphone” on TED Talks. In some cases, an image is not even needed. In this video (at 2:38), Matt holds his phone up to a router and — tada — animation guides him through setup instructions.

    Imagine how this can be used at the point of purchase to educate customers and increase engagement. The wireless router “aura” demo is a perfect example of a product demonstration or instructional animation coming to life right there on the store aisle. Imagine a customer pointing their phone at a high-efficiency washing machine at Lowe’s to see a cutaway view of the inner workings and an explanation of how the washer uses less water. Not only could this help sell the features and benefits, it can help ward off customer service inquiries and returns around misunderstandings about how the washer works.

    iPads in Kate Spade Saturday store in Japan. (Credit: Kate Spade)

    iPads in Kate Spade Saturday store in Japan. (Credit: Kate Spade)

    3. Tablets as POP Displays

    Retailers are already placing iPads, other tablets and touchscreen displays in store to let shopper see interactive product demos and learn about products at their own pace. 3

    One of the most ambitious integrations is Kate Spade’s micro store in Japan where iPads have replaced paper signs to bring customers “a bottomless pool of product information, video and, social integration.” Beyond product walk-troughs and engagement, the iPads can be used for point of sale, loyalty tracking, employee training, shopping analytics and inventory and supply chain management.

    Back in 2011, Macys rolled out tablets in 25 of its stores to demonstrate product features and let customers see coordinating jewelry pieces – even those unavailable in that particular location.

    Imagine if appliance or furniture manufacturers did the same thing using virtual showrooms — allowing customers to explore features, change colors or move pieces right there in store?

    The Bottom Line

    “Mobile marketing isn’t an option; it’s an imperative,” as Google put it. Owning the “digital shelf” means making it “easy for shoppers to find product information, promotional offers, or other information about your business on their smartphones when in-store.” 1

    The best part is — you may already have informational content produced.  So, why not give in-store shoppers access right on the spot?


    1 http://www.google.com/think/research-studies/mobile-in-store.html
    2 http://www.bzzagent.com/blog/post/mobile-phones-pointofpurchase/
    3 http://www.ipadkiosksolution.com/ipads-in-retail/

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