Best Buy is not a happy place to be right now. Just a couple of weeks are announcing that they will close 50 retail stores, their CEO, Brian Dunn, resigned.
The root cause seems to be something simple known as Showrooming. This is where customers are in store and they price-check one retailer’s price compared to another.
Retailers are going to be finding it harder and harder to compete. Already the prices of all items are exposed for anyone to view just by simply logging onto their website and comparing it with another. Retailers are also finding that they not only have to compete with the larger retailers but even with anyone who can set up an ecommerce site with a few clicks.
Its all seems to be going mobile. Retailers have to accept the following FACTS:
- Customers are conducting their research and at times are more knowledgeable than the sales-staff.
- Customers are very price aware.
- Customers are mobile.
So how can retailers take advantage of these and get a leg-up on the competition ?
Firstly, read the article I wrote back in January 2011 – if you haven’t got those basics right, then PANIC ! [article: How to stay ahead where your prices are transparent to your competitors]
Second, put mobile in the centre of your strategy. Mobile builds customer loyalty with real value added services. Here are some tips and what to do:
- Join up to every possible Price Checking service around – customers are checking there, so at least make sure you come up.
- Product suggestions based on history and previous purchases – this shows the customers you care about them personally.
- Location-based application that are aware of the physical location of the customers and announces unique offering to them – personalised limited offers are a great incentive to get customers through the door.
- Importantly an integrated solution. If the customer has registered on your website, do not make them re-register on your mobile site or mobile app.
- Do not confuse Mobile App with the “killer application” – SMS is by far still the killer application. Do not be swayed by the i-syndrome to develop mobile app for iPhone – yes mobile apps need to be a part of the strategy but not the main focus.
- Don’t forget about Games. Most people who own a mobile phone have a mobile game that keeps them entertained whilst they “kill time” as they wait for an appointment/ at the shop/ hairdresser etc. etc. Games should be part of the overall brand engagement with the customers
Finally, customers have become accustomed to accepting mediocre service. There is no need to “over” deliver – just deliver. If you keep just your promises you will be heads above the rest. Use Mobile to do that. Keep the customer updated at every step of the way.
I recently completed an online form asking the business to contact me. I instantly received an SMS informing me that they have received my message and then someone actually did contact me – superb.