The problem for brick-and-mortar retailers is Amazon has a huge advantage in the digital domain. It can reach in-store customers in myriad ways. Most mobile searches lead to Amazon. It also has a popular app, giving it the advantage of being easily reached.
A prime opportunity.
Physical stores have an advantage too: people can see and handle products there. However, to keep up with the online competition, they must bridge customers from physical to mobile and deliver meaningful in-store mobile experiences. This sets up a prime opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers.
People already use their smartphones to research, even while they shop in-store. By adding links to real-world objects and places, brands become available where people are holding products, looking at store displays, or pondering a purchase.
Everything from cosmetic products to refrigerators to endcap displays can be connected and interconnected to the internet. These are all the “smart” things that make up the internet of things. Phy, a physical-to-mobile content-management system that connects physical things and places to digital content, makes anything, anywhere “smart.”
QR codes, NFC tags, and Bluetooth beacons all serve as gateways to the mobile web. Phy uses these gateways to enable retailers to seamlessly integrate digital engagement into store visits to deliver real value.
Widely accessible connections
There are a multitude of ways to access content through smart connections like codes, tags, and beacons.
Starting with iOS 11, iPhones will be able to use apps to activate Near Field Communication (NFC) tags (Android phones do this automatically) and to reveal links in QR codes by simply pointing phone’s camera at them. Social media apps like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all can directly scan QR codes.
In addition, Android’s Nearby notifications feature makes use of low-priority notifications, which show beacons when a shopper wakes his or her smartphone. And when in background, compatible apps can also quietly preview nearby content with drop-down notifications.
All of this means shoppers can engage with QR codes, NFC tags, and beacons without having to download a retailer’s app. At the same time, retailers can easily make their apps compatible with all types of link physical touchpoints, thus giving shoppers even more paths to engage.
Context enhances in-store experiences
QR codes, NFC tags or Bluetooth beacons can be linked to online content for smartphones to discover. But when managed in the Phy Platform, you are not limited to a single link. Touchpoints can display previews of up to 20 links These multi-action previews are fast, relevant and conversational. It’s unlike any other content manager for internet-of-things experiences. By displaying a selection of relevant content options, people can quickly choose the option that answers their need
Multi-action previews are first impressions - presented in the instantly familiar format of search results. They offer a selection of information links and calls-to-action to better engage the customer. The speed, utility, and universality of these previews are important. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Previews also initiate conversational experiences. Offering multiple options gives the shopper an opportunity to respond to the content as if responding to the question, “Do you want to know about this?” or “Is this what you need?” By tapping through, the shopper is answering, “Yes.”
This also shows the retailer exactly what has captured the shopper’s interest. If the shopper engaged through a compatible app and opted in, then these interactions can even be personalized.
Shoppers come to retail stores because they like to see and handle products. Phy can enhance the shopping experience by connecting physical things directly with digital content and even interactive experiences.
Anything you can do on the web you can do through smart connections on products and store displays. This includes:
- Linking shoppers to in-store chat (or chatbots) so they get immediate answers from product experts.
- “Secret Deal of the Day” or other gamification. Curiosity is a strong motivator to stimulate engagement.
- “Tap to text” actions to collect phone numbers in exchange for a sample, service or promotion.
- Premium content for loyal shoppers. For example, app users can receive a better offer than window shoppers using a browser.
- Video demos
- Alternate language content
- Providing direct access to an “endless aisle” of out-of-stock or alternate product configurations
- E-commerce links for immediate purchases.
Even better, previews can include any combination of the above.
Create in-store experiences
Shoppers are driving the in-store use of mobile devices because they find it useful. They will also choose the path of least resistance to finding helpful content. Right now, Amazon sits at the end of that path. Brick-and-mortar retailers can grab their share of digital interactions by placing smart connections throughout stores. Interweaving physical and digital interactions to create the kinds of in-store experiences will drive loyalty and sales.
A variation of this post originally appeared on CMSWire, written by our CEO, Richard Graves.