Let's say you're a consumer shopping in a store for a new television. You start off by going online and typing in "best television for watching movies" to start your research process. The next step is to go to a store for a closer look before making your final decision. Once at the store, you explain your needs to a store associate and they help you narrow down to three different options.
If you're like 47% of consumers, you're probably going to get on your phone and look up those products for in-depth specs, photos, and reviews. If you're also like 51% of consumers, you’ll take some time to compare prices online and make sure you're getting a great deal.
There's no doubt that the way consumers shop has changed drastically over the years. This is likely due to the growing number of purchasing millennials, who now own more than 35.2% of pets (Boomers own 32.8%), according to the American Pet Products Association (reported on Petfoodindustry.com).
In an age where everything is increasingly digital and mobile, it's more crucial than ever for pet specialty retailers to keep up. However, with so much information out there, it can be difficult to know what and what not to do when it comes to optimizing your pet store for mobile.
In this article, we'll discuss some of the most recent hot-topic ideas in mobile optimization and how they can affect your store's sales.
1. Create a Mobile-Friendly Website
The first, and most important step, to mobile optimization is having a website that works well on any device, especially smartphones and tablets. According to Forrester's survey The State of Mobile Apps for Retailers, "[Consumers] expect to be able to discover, explore, buy, ask, and engage with retailers in context and moments of need, and retailers must deliver mobile experiences that match and exceed those expectations" (Forrester, 2015). Customers are increasingly using their smartphones to access the Internet and interact with retailers.
The same survey by Forrester revealed that consumers were primarily using their mobile devices to research products in a moment of need (i.e. researching brands while standing in one of your store's aisles) and to find and redeem coupons while shopping.
If you’re still not convinced that you need to adapt, RetailNext published a few stats that may convince you otherwise. According to a recent article, 83% of consumers in the United States will use the Internet to research before they make a purchase. Plus, if you even want customers to be able to find your store when they search “pet store near me” your website needs to be mobile-friendly. As of a recent update, Google punishes websites that don't show up well on smartphones and tablets by not allowing them to show up in search results.
How to Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Now that you’ve identified the need to switch, how do you do so? This will vary based on the platform that your website is being hosted on. However, a great place to start is by searching your domain (website URL) on Google’s PageSpeed Tool. The software will give you suggestions which you can then use to decide how you want to take your next step, whether it’s working with your IT department (if you’re lucky/big enough to have one) or by hiring a contractor to fix your website.
Another, easy to use tool by Google is the Mobile-Friendly Test. Just type in your domain again and it will tell you whether it’s optimized for mobile, and give you tips and resources on making it so.
Click here to learn more about setting up mobile optimized website with guides from Google.
2. Set Up Retail Beacons
Retail Beacons aren't as scary as they might sound. It is a device that uses geo-targeting (accessing a person’s location based on where their phone says they are) to create highly targeted messaging based on a consumer’s location. For example, if a consumer walks into your store, they could get a push-notification (if you have an app) or email letting them know about a sale happening on dog food right now.
According to BizTech Magazine, “[Retail beacons] can be used to track foot traffic, can sometimes transmit Wi-Fi signals and, through the use of proximity sensors in the beacon and in users’ smartphones or tablets, can send special offers to customers.” These devices are seemingly growing more popular among retailers, as ABI Research forecasted about “8 million beacons deployed by the end of 2016 and 400 million by 2020.”
Retail beacons are fairly inexpensive and you can work with manufacturers to find the ones that work best for your store, making it easier than ever to set up. What you can get out of them depends on what you are looking for. According to Think with Google, a feature called Nearby Notifications “makes shopping better by helping shoppers get things done with their phone, such as scanning items to get reviews […]. The technology also makes it easier for consumers to get useful information, whether that means seeing if an item is in stock or locating that same item while in-store.”
With Nearby Notifications, you will be able to
- Drive your own app installs (if you have an app)
- Have consumers open your social media profiles
- Launch conversations or chatbots inside messaging apps
- Help users explore store inventory
If all of this sounds a little over your head, you’re not alone. Although retailers are implementing beacons, many of them are seemingly being employed solely by the larger chain stores. However, although retail beacons may not be feasible for you now, it’s still critical to identify them and potentially come up with a plan to implement them in your store within the next few years.
3. Partner with Same-Day Delivery Services
If you’re targeting millennials, one aspect that will boost your mobile efforts is offering same-day deliver services in your region. With delivery service companies popping up seemingly everywhere, hiring couriers no longer means adding additional staff to the payroll. Instead, you can invest in a service that will bring your store’s products directly to your customer, allowing you to stand out and gain an edge over your number one competitor: e-commerce.
Signing up as a partner with delivery services can be simple. A few options you can explore include
For those who are based in the Seattle area, you may have noticed (or have heard about) All the Best Pet Care’s partnership with Amazon’s Prime Now delivery service. Since August 2016, GeekWire states that the company was the first retailer outside of restaurants and grocery stores to offer 2-hour delivery service through Prime Now.
4. Offer Extensive Resources for Shoppers
Now that you know consumers are researching their purchases on mobile devices beforehand, you’ll want to do whatever you can to stay a primary part of that process. By keeping consumers engaged with your brand throughout the entire shopping process, you’ll remain top of mind and encourage loyalty from your customers.
One way to do this is to turn your website into a sort of “buyer's guide” for the brands you offer. You’ll want to include
- High quality product photography
- In-depth product information (such as ingredient lists and guaranteed analysis)
- Customer reviews
- Short videos that help explain and sell the product
- Any extra brand information such as charity contributions and supported causes
Adding the extra brand content will allow your customers to connect with your favorite brands. You can even build out a “landing page” for each brand and charge them to merchandise their products and brand story on your website, creating opportunities for income generation. This will essentially be an online “endcap” which will engage your customers on a higher level with featured brands.
The key to this is working very closely with your suppliers to gather the information necessary to sell your customers on the products you carry. Although you may not want to turn your website into an online store, you’ll want to include the same type of information as that of an e-commerce site. This will help ensure your customers don’t leave you as they search for any product information that will assist in making their purchase decision.
5. Implement a Mobile POS
The last step to mobile optimization includes implementing a mobile point-of-sale system within your store. One thing to keep in mind is that this will be primarily for those stores targeting millennial pet owners as this particular generation is one who always “want an integrated, seamless shopping experience” (Pet Age).
Redefining the checkout experience in-store is a trend that many retailers in all industries have taken head-on. This may be due, in-part, to the fact that “Americans will abandon a checkout line and leave a store without making a purchase after eight minutes of waiting in a checkout line” (Irisys, 2014).
One way to address this problem is by implementing a mobile POS system on a device such as a tablet or smartphone that allows your employees to check your customers out anywhere in the store, not just at the cash wrap. This solution allows your employees to keep up their high level of customer engagement and finish off the entire selling process with a quick check out right after the customer has found what they were looking for.
As a personal testament to how this works, I have multiple years of experience working retail. Before becoming a marketer for All Points Marketing, I worked at a large chain of shoe stores. This retailer implemented a limited store test of mobile POS systems right before I signed on, and I had the honor of becoming one of the main users of this device.
I found that many customers were delighted to hear that they could check out as soon as they found their products right there on the sales floor, without having to wait in line. Baby Boomers seemed the most cautious of the system, while Generation X and Millennials being the most accepting and excited about completing their purchase immediately after making their selections.
There are many options for POS Systems, of which you can browse on this list. The two that clearly stood out as leaders seem to be ShopKeep and Vend. Both software services offer somewhat low-cost answers to retailers looking for a POS solution.
As you can see, there are a multitude of options that any pet retailer can use to put a mobile optimization strategy into practice. Working towards a mobile-friendly presence will not only bring more millennials to your pet store, but also bring you long-term results in terms of sales growth and innovation.
- [Presentation] The Dawn of Mobile Influence - Discovering the value of mobile in retail
- [eBook] The State of Mobile Apps for Retailers
- [Blog] The Multiplatform Store
- [List] Best POS Systems 2017
- [eBook] The Ultimate Threat: How E-Commerce Affects the Pet Industry
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Hoffman – E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Manager joined the All Points family in April of 2015. Ashley brings a fresh outlook to the marketing industry as well as a constant desire for learning something new. She is dedicated to consistently improving her skills and efficiency in the marketing industry and using those skills to promote APM and all brands we represent. Ashley is a millennial pet owner herself, and is currently the loving owner of two cats.
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