brick mobile

Retail reality 

Brick & Mobile: the next frontier in frictionless retailing?

Can you imagine life without a smartphone? I'm sure you can't. Can you imagine a shopping trip without a smartphone? Of course not! Can you imagine a shopping trip in which your smartphone is fully integrated from beginning to end? Maybe not entirely yet. But believe us, in a short time Brick & Mobile will become the dominant way of shopping in a physical environment.

We live in a 'mobile first' world, in which China is the leading player
The fact that the smartphone plays an increasingly important role in e-commerce is obvious: mobile transactions already account for about 10% of the total retail turnover worldwide. The smartphone's share in all global e-commerce sales has already risen to almost 60% *.
China is the absolute leader in this: in 2017, it already accounted for more than two-thirds of all m-commerce sales. And during the most recent Single's Day — China's largest online shopping festival                 — almost 90% of Alibaba's sales were made through a mobile device.

If you want to know what the trends are in mobile, then China is the place to be. More than one billion Chinese use WeChat - including the WeChat Pay mobile wallet - while AliPay claims to have some 900 million monthly users. What makes these figures so interesting?
Both mobile payment services are mainly used for mobile payments in physical stores.

“In a short time, Brick & Mobile will become the dominant way of shopping in a physical environment.”

The vital role of the smartphone in store
And so the smartphone is increasingly finding its way into physical retail. This is also happening in the West where 80% of shoppers use their mobile phones for shopping-related activities, such as searching for product reviews, price comparisons, discount coupons or (alternative) shops. However, depending on the research you consider and the countries and continents you are talking about, roughly 90% of retail sales are still generated in a physical environment. In short, we live in a Brick & Mobile world, in which shop and smartphone can complement each other perfectly in the ideal shopper journey.

"We live in a Brick & Mobile world, in which shop and smartphone can complement each other perfectly in the ideal shopper journey."

“The ideal mix of Brick & Mobile lies in the balance between personal, local benefits and valuable mobile experiences.”

The big question now is: what are these valuable extra items and what personal benefits are actually the deciding factor?

Several studies have shown that shoppers like to use their smartphone during shopping trips to:

  1. Check product availability and location
  2. Find product information and inspiration
  3. Compare products and prices
  4. Find and retrieve digital coupons and other benefits
  5. Use self-service features, such as self-scanning
  6. Mobile payments & checkout

The heart of your Brick & Mobile strategy: a shopping app with in-store mode
If you really want to work on your Brick & Mobile strategy - and you do want that! - then put your shopping app at the centre of your shoppers' journey.

Big brands like Nike, Target and Amazon have already gone before you with shopping and loyalty apps that provided a fantastic m-commerce experience as stand-alone products but really showed their strength when you entered one of the physical footprints, thanks to geofencing and other location data.

We'll go through the killer (proximity) features of your Brick & Mobile app point by point, so you too can reap the benefits.

The shopper point of view

1. Product availability and location
Store traffic is decreasing year after year, but if we are a shopper planning to go to a physical store, we want to be sure that we don't miss anything.

  1. Local Stock
     Being sure you are not wasting your time going to a shop starts with an overview of local stock. For example, for some time now the Dutch DIY chain Karwei has been offering the option of checking quickly in advance to see if the product you are looking for is in stock. This is an important conversion incentive.
  2. Check & reserve
    The next step? Reserve the desired product on the go. For 88% of shoppers, speed is the driving force here. After all, why go looking for a product in a store if you can use your smartphone to reserve it beforehand?
    Nike has gone a step further and introduced in-store check & reserve. Scan the product or your preferred look using the ‘in-store mode’ of the NikePlus app. An employee then immediately picks out your items and hangs them in a fitting room. You get a push notification and can try them on immediately. Easy as that!
  3. Product localisation
    Are you in the store looking for one specific product on your shopping list? Or are you working your way through a long shopping list and you don't want to waste time walking back and forth? Research shows that 10% to 30% of shoppers regularly leave a shop without a product they were looking for.
    Indoor positioning technologies such as ibeacons and light beacons in combination with Augmented Reality, for example, make localising products using an in-store shopping app a piece of cake. And that 30% (lost) turnover is guaranteed.
    A good example is Target's app, which can be used in more than 2,000 of their shops. The stock of any product is easy to see, the location is displayed on an in-store map, and you can even show you the fastest or smartest shopping route.

2. Product information and inspiration

A major cornerstone of a Brick & Mobile strategy is to offer your shopper a 'single view of product'. After all, we are used to having immediate access to all the information we are looking for at all times and everywhere. What kind of information is the best to display on a mobile phone in a physical environment?

  1. Specifications
    First of all, you might think of simple product information such as prices, ingredients or specifications. But what about allergy information for food products, 'how-to' videos for more complex products, or a digital leaflet for medicines?
    Direct mobile access to additional product information at the point of sale makes things easier for shoppers and staff, and can increase conversion.
  2. Reviews & user-generated content
    Online reviews and user-generated content (photos, videos and stories) have an immense impact on the choice process. 90% of consumers say they are influenced (to a greater or lesser extent) by online reviews, while 73% say that user-generated content confirms their choices.
    In short, even in physical retail spaces, this online content can make an important contribution to the decisions that shoppers make and to the certainty with which they do so.
  3. Inspiration & application
    Choosing and finding the right product are only the first step. How do you expect to use it after that?
    This is where a little inspiration and application come in. These can be of great value during the shopper journey, for shopper and retailer alike.
    Think in terms of styling advice for the garment you are holding, recipe inspiration for the vegetables you just put in your basket, or a short video that illustrates how easy it is to assemble or connect a product. This is exactly the kind of content that makes shoppers certain about their choices and inspires them to buy more.
  4. Supply chain transparency
    Transparency and sustainability are important buzzwords. After scandals in the meat-processing, fashion, coffee and chocolate industries, there is an increasingly louder call for transparency in the supply chain. But how do you tell this story for each individual product? By mobile phone, of course. A good example is the case of Albert Heijn and Louis Dreyfus Company, a supplier of bottled fresh orange juice. After scanning a QR code on the packaging, the shopper is given an insight into the complete supply chain, from tree to juice, brought together by blockchain technology.

3. Price and product comparison
Doubt, doubt, doubt. How often does it happen that when you have to make an expensive purchase you are not completely sure that you're getting the right product for the right price?
Research shows that only 46% of Dutch shoppers think that physical stores have added value when it comes to comparing products. Moreover, more and more shoppers think they are better informed than the shop staff who should help them.
The solution is a mobile application that enables shoppers to compare a number of products on the spot and instantly discover which product suits them best. This can be a personal application, or a guided selling app for your staff.
If you do not offer this option, there is a good chance that shoppers will postpone their decision and make a new comparison at home. With the risk that they will choose another retailer. So be smart and build in space for price and product comparison in your Brick & Mobile strategy, to increase conversion.

4. Local & personal benefits
In America, more than half of shoppers are interested in location-based discounts via their smartphone while they are shopping. This makes sense. Who does not want a discount on a purchase they were planning to make anyway?
Here's the crux of smartly matching benefits to a person's buying history, profile and location. Local, personal offers are extremely effective for cross-selling, upselling and trial purchase purposes. And don't forget to occasionally surprise your fans with privilege benefits: What could be more fun than an unexpected benefit, just because you're so loyal to a specific retailer or product?

“For a good Brick & Mobile case, it is essential to have a good mix of technologies such as geofencing, public Wifi, iBeacons, Lightbeacons, barcodes, QR codes, RFID and/or NFC.”

“For the optimal omnichannel experience, retailers will need to focus on the smartphone”

5. Self-scanning using a retailer app
Self-scanning has been on the rise for years, especially in the supermarket. And there's a reason for that. For shoppers, it means extra convenience (every product goes straight into your bag, so fewer operations are needed), speed (never have to queue, just go straight through) and an overview of expenses, while the retailer has operational benefits and more satisfied customers. So mobile scanning in food is pretty obvious.
When we think about scanning, we logically think about barcodes or QR codes, but there is also a lot of innovation in this area. For example, Walmart is testing an app that uses visual recognition to identify the product the shopper is holding, without any barcode or QR code being used. Convenience is key.
There are also good applications outside the food industry. Take, for instance. All the products in their showrooms have RFID tags, which shoppers can scan with the tablets available in the shop in order to put together their (online) shopping list and then pay completely online. Amazon too is a fan of using its mobile app in-store. For example, in their collaborative pop-up with Calvin Klein, they let the visitors scan all the items themselves using the Amazon app. Great hybrid Brick & Mobile cases.
Research even shows that 73% of shoppers prefer to use self-service technologies rather than contact employees during the shopping process. 76% are particularly pleased about the extra speed offered by self-service technologies. In short, do you listen to your shopper? Then give your mobile app an important self-service function.

6. Payment / Checkout
Mobile payment and - to go one step further - mobile checkout are a hot topic for both shoppers and retailers. If we assume that China is at the forefront of making payment transactions mobile, then we are looking at a big revolution.
After all, we know that both WeChat Pay and AliPay have around a billion users (the users are not duplicated: both services have around one billion users) and that these users use the payment service mainly for in-store payments. In short, no cash, no cards, but mobile transactions.
How does this work in practice? Users scan a QR code with the app and transfer the amount from their virtual wallet to the retailer with one tap. In China, it is already even a trend among beggars to offer their own QR code, making it even easier for passers-by to donate a small amount. For the time being, it is mainly a Chinese matter, but now WeChat Pay and AliPay are already offered in almost 50 countries.

Obviously, the smartphone is (for now) also still an important link in frictionless shopping concepts such as Amazon Go, Zippin, BingoBox, TaoSafe and Mobimart.
Meanwhile, with its mobile app, the American company Skip is making frantic attempts to make American retailers frictionless and the race to make retailers Brick & Mobile is being fought on several fronts.

Extra: Experience
In addition to all the practical shopper applications, the smartphone in a Brick & Mobile environment also offers another possibility: experience!
In the experience economy, there is an arms race going on as to who can integrate the most beautiful, newest and most impressive interactive technology into their store concept. But the most interesting technology is perhaps in the hands of consumers themselves - the smartphone.
With that in mind, several brands have already been using their apps for extra in-store experience. Take Footlocker, for example. Footlocker brings to life the stories behind iconic sneakers with its Audio Tour on the shopper's mobile. Or there is Levi Strauss that uses its app to reward users for visiting its stores. In short, the combination of Brick & Mobile still hides a world of exciting possibilities for extra 'return on experience'.

Benefits for Brands & Retailers
Brick & Mobile has a twofold effect: shoppers benefit from more speed, convenience, certainty and a finer, more personal experience. But brands and retailers also benefit.

1. Increased customer satisfaction and engagement
36% to 43% of US shoppers believe retailers need to do more to personalise their shopping experience. As described earlier, 73% of shoppers prefer to use self-service technologies, especially because of the extra speed these provide.
Other research has found that 87% of shoppers are willing to pay up to 5% more for a product when the customer experience is excellent. Merge those two insights together and you'll conclude that below-the-line investments in your Brick & Mobile operation — focused on personalisation! - should be able to provide more satisfied and engaged customers, who are willing to spend more with you in the long term.

2. Higher Conversions
Customers who want to pay more for the exact same product are a great margin maker for retailers. But on which KPIs can a personalised Brick & Mobile approach have a yet more positive effect?

It starts with generating store traffic, thanks to the webrooming effect: 63% of Canadian shoppers actively use their smartphone beforehand to find shop information, price and product information, product advice and product availability. Certainty about the right price, stock and availability can make the difference between visiting your store or not. And if you already know that particular shoppers with particular needs are going to take a certain route through your store, it's a no-brainer to automate some interesting cross-sell and upsell offers.
After all, research shows that 49% of consumers say they sometimes buy a product without having planned to do so, simply because they received a personal recommendation from a brand.
42% say they think it's cool to receive a personal offer in a store through their smartphone and they like to use it.
So surprising a shopper with relevant offers during a Brick & Mobile shopper journey is an extremely interesting conversion booster.
But upselling is also an interesting KPI, with 40% of shoppers saying they have bought a more expensive product because of a personalised journey and recommendations.

In short, the smart use of brick & mobile applications can give almost all your conversion KPIs an interesting uplift.

3. Data & Insights
Data is the new oil, and data about how your shoppers move around your store, make their choices, and possibly allow themselves to be persuaded is worth gold to marketers. And this is entirely because, in a Brick & Mobile environment, all data and insights are potentially in real time.

This makes it even easier to continuously optimise your shop, tailor your in-store CRM triggers optimally to everyone's individual shopping patterns, and quantify your co-op contributions, for example.

But be careful before you immediately go all-out to collect shopper data.
Research by Forrester shows that 17% of all consumers prefer not to share data with retailers where they shop. More than half (52% to 59% depending on the income level) are concerned about the amount of data that companies collect about them.

Is Brick & Mobile the future of retail?
Absolutely. In the new retail world, where hybrid shopping is what consumers expect, the mix of mobile and physical retail will really take off over the coming years. On the one hand, Brick & Mobile is a fantastically interesting model for e-commerce pure players who want to move to physical footprints; on the other hand, it's an incredibly interesting way for physical retailers to blend the benefits of digital commerce with the strengths of a physical shop.
So until we can actually shop frictionlessly, Brick & Mobile is definitely the next best thing.

Do you want to know more about this trend? Then you should contact Erica Twigt,  or +31 (0)252 750275.

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