Today's consumers are "eager to use mobile devices to inform in-store decisions," says Target's Kris Roberts in a recent article that quotes experts on the subject at Knowledge@Wharton. Digital innovations, the article argues, are transforming how people shop.
As mobile networks improve, it's becoming easier for retailers to target customers based on where they live or shop, and to communicate with them in real time. And location-based social networks (think Foursquare), which essentially ask users to share their retail patterns with friends, are offering vital new ways for brands to link to communities, the article notes.
But retailers aren't adapting so well to the new reality, Roberts warns: "They continue to view online shoppers and customers at retail stores as two separate entities."
So, to help sellers better meet the demands of today's wired buyers, the experts quoted in the article offer a few must-do action tips. Among them:
- Update your organizational systems to better integrate in-store operations with Internet retailing. This is a daunting task, Roberts admits, and could require "a generation or two of management changeover." But it's vital to achieving the next point.
- Break down your silos, and get your teams working across channels—from stores to online to mobile and social media—to maintain branding and service at each customer touchpoint.
- Get shoppers more involved in decision-making. While the "primal" experience of in-store shopping is unmatched, so is the Internet's ability to provide shoppers with information, Roberts notes. As consumers move between the two, they are playing a more active role in shaping their own shopping experiences. Find new ways to engage with them.
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