Since the first mobile app was launched by Coca Cola in 1997, innovative retailers have jumped on the digital bandwagon to extend their storefronts. Today, retailers want to give their customers product information anywhere, anytime and via any device.
Last December, consumer transactions conducted on smartphones and tablets were up from just over six percent in 2011 to 19.1% in 2013 (IBM ExperienceOne, 2014). And for the 2014 holiday season, 75% of consumers will use a mobile device to make or complete a transaction.
One could extrapolate from this that consumers no longer perceive a difference between browsing in a store and online purchases – it’s all shopping. Because walls no longer define the retail environment, there is a lot of interest in tracking customer journeys and optimizing for the omni-channel.
At the 2014 Mobile Shopping Summit, there was a lot of discussion about how retailers could leverage the contextual experience with marketing through mobile devices. In retail, a contextual experience is defined as a personalized interaction with a consumer that leverages location, past interactions with the retailer, age, gender and other available data relevant to the purchasing process.
Retailers want to go beyond developing a mobile app that functions as a replacement for the desktop website; they want to engage customers contextually to help them make purchasing decisions. The practices of using personalized data and newer technologies such as geofencing to develop better shopping experiences for customers are still fairly new; everyone is trying to figure out how to deliver value without breaking privacy barriers. It’s not easy to do.
Geo-fencing uses GPS to tell a retailer when a mobile device enters or exits a boundary (such as the store) and enables the retailer to automatically trigger push notifications. Other contextual data, such as prior purchase history, is used to make those notifications relevant.